Angelfire gripped me from the first chapter. It dropped you right into the action and the world of lightwarriors and Darkened, demons who use their human disguises to suck the life force from other humans. Alyx is one of these lightwarriors, Seraphim whose job is to find the demons who have possessed humans and take care of them. Of course, everything can’t be as simple as all that. Alyx has strange visions, which leads to suspicion and undesired attention. She feels like her she’s meant to be a lightwarrior and she’s worried that the visions will threaten that when the rumors spread that she’s the next Seer. Angelfire is a great start to her story that is just the right amount of self-discovery, romance, and plot-thickening. I’m excited to see how it continues in the next book.
Balancing her new ability and the gossip it brings is not easy for Alyx. All she wants to do is fight Darkened, something that she feels born to do. She feels powerful when she’s able to bring down a Darkened with her flock mates. With rumors swirling around her, she feels like she can’t act normal. It doesn’t help that the visions are compelling her to follow them, convinced that what she’s seeing is happening in real time. Alyx is a powerful fighter and character; following her as a character meant that we were constantly in the action, which could be nerve-wracking at times. Alyx has her own agency and tries to have some measure of control over her life and growing secrets. It often gets her into trouble. She has a hard time backing down from a slight on her parents and has difficulties controlling her rage when they are brought up. There are a few people that she’s willing to swallow her pride for, even if it goes against her instinct. If there’s anything Alyx needs to do it is to control her emotions. There are times when she’s all over the place and it makes her act rashly. It is better to keep some things secret as long as you can.
I loved the two main characters, Alyx and Israel. I hated when they made mistakes that could have been solved just by talking to each other. Israel is consumed by righting a wrong that occurred in his past, and Alyx is forced to help him due to their connection. As their relationship grew, so did the things that she kept secret from him, convinced that in order to help them, she needed to keep her feelings hidden. It was a weird experience to read that because of how conflicting it was. There were several times when I made “This is upsetting me” noises because of how ridiculous they were being. Just talk to each other! Toward the end of the novel more characters were introduced. There wasn’t a lot of time left in the book for them to be really expanded on, so I’m hoping to see more characterization in the second novel.
The setting of Angelfire is wonderful. Thousands of years ago, the Angels were locked out of heaven and now have to live in elder run cities that exist hidden on earth. The cities are named after the powerful elders and seem to be run by their namesake. Michaelea is located in the forests at the foot of a mountain range, hidden in the depths far from mortal eyes. If a mortal happens across it, they are compelled to turn away. It’s cloaked, and only those who know it’s there can get into the city. The city is vivid, with training grounds, living quarters, and social areas where dinner and Entwinement ceremonies occur. There is a culture that is detailed through showing rather than an information dump. One of the more important sources of their power is bloodink, tattoos made of pure magic. Lightwarriors are able to draw on the magic inked into their skin when they need to dispose of Darkened bodies, search caverns with air, or get people to sleep. It was really cool. I’m disappointed that more of the story didn’t happen here because there seems to be a rich backstory hiding underneath the action. It seems like Hanna Peach has more that she could say about Michaelea and its customs, but didn’t want to bog down the narration with it. I hope that I can read more about the other cities in the next novels. Luckily the mortal world is just as interesting. I particularly liked the underground city and would love if a separate story happened here. There’s a bit more risk when Alyx is in the mortal world. She can’t always fly and has to match her look to that of a mortal. Wearing tons of blades openly will get a few looks.
The plot was really interesting. At first I was worried that it sounded similar to the Nephilim of Mortal Instruments fame / infamy, but it quickly turned out to not be the case at all. There was just the right amount of hinting at things to come: it got me hooked, but didn’t give too much away. I anticipate that each book will gradually build on that, revealing secrets in each of them until the conclusion of the series. It is a slow build and I appreciate that we’re not given everything right away. I also have a strong suspicion that things are not the way they seem and believe that some of the things we know as truth now may not turn out that way in the end. At least, I hope so.
I’m really excited to continue reading this series. Angelfire had a nice balance of characterization, setting, romance building, and prophecy dropping in it. I hope more answers about characters and their roles will come in the next novel.