Monday, October 1, 2007

'The Darkangel' by Meredith Ann Pierce

ISBN: 0316067237
Format: Paperback, 256pp
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Price: $7.99

First published in 1982 The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce is the first in the Darkangel trilogy. The series is being reissued by Little, Brown & Company with gorgeous new covers. I have to admit that the cover is what first caught my eye. But I was lucky that it wasn’t just another pretty face, what I found within the pages is a solid young adult fantasy worth reading more than once.

The Darkangel, once a mortal and not quite a vampire, must have 14 brides before he can come into his full power and immortality. He keeps his wives in his cold castle, wraiths without their souls, which he wears in lead vials around his neck. When the Darkangel steals away Eoduin, Aeriel, her slave and friend, vows to avenge her mistress and waits for the Darkangel to return.

But when the Darkangel comes back to claim Aeriel, she finds that he is too beautiful for her to kill. At first she thinks she too will become one of his brides but he scoffs at the idea, claiming that she is too ugly. Instead he has brought her to his castle as a servant; she is to weave the clothes for his brides and when he chooses his 14th and final bride it will be Aeriel that weaves the bridal gown.

Below the castle, in deep caves, lives a little man by the name of Talb. A magician of sorts, he helps Aeriel survive her first few months there, providing her with food and company when the voices of the wraith brides become too much. Aeriel also makes friends with the Darkangel’s gargoyles, bringing them food and coming to love them. She even becomes close to the Darkangel, sharing stories with him and coming to care for him, although she does not realize it at first.

While the Darkangel is cruel and seems heartless, Aeriel still sees some good in him. But when she realizes that with the Darkangel’s final bride he will not only come into his full power but that he will join others of his kind to take over the world, she takes action. With guidance from Talb, Aeriel escapes the Darkangel and goes on a quest to find an object that will help her save his withered soul.

The Darkangel is not the vampire story you might expect. Written years before a revolution was led by authors everywhere towards bodice-ripping novels that featured blood-sucking hunks, Pierce crafted an original fantasy with a vampire at its heart. More adventure and self-discovery than romance, this is a story of Aerial and her growth. Nevertheless the idea of romance is there; the pale beautiful face, the night black wings, the other worldly power, all elements that have followed the vampire into more modern settings.

But leave whatever vampire expectations you have behind you. The Darkangel is solid, finely wrought fantasy with hints of science fiction thrown in. The second book, A Gathering of Gargoyles, was released with its new cover this month with the third and final volume, The Pearl of the Soul of the World, hitting stores in February 2008. If you can’t wait that long, of course there is always local used bookstores and the used section on Amazon. But I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty cover, so I think I’ll just wait it out.


Yoga Gal said...

So many vampire fictions so little time! What is your favorite vampire novel?

Katie said...

Yoga Gal, I really like the Twilight books by S. Meyer and Lynsay Sands stuff is always fun. Also Colleen Gleason's vampire hunter books are lots of fun. I like it all really. I haven't read Anne Rice though, and I guess I should. My husband really likes her. What is yours?

Kahnee said...

That is the most interesting premis for a novel that I've heard in a long time.

Katie said...

Yeah it was not what I first expected, but very good. I'll have to read the rest in the series now.

Sevenine said...

Another awesome review! As Kahnee said, it's one of the more interesting plots I've heard for a book.

phsymom said...

I vaguely remember reading this book, but no longer have it on my bookshelf. I must have given it to one of my nieces.

I think I'm going to purchase another copy, as I remember it as a very good read. Hopefully the two remaining stories are just as good.

Thanks for bringing a wonderful read back to my attention.

Meg said...

Ooh, sounds like a pretty strong premise! I definitely need to look into that.

It was really cool getting to meet you today - I'm glad the class didn't overwhelm you (probably helped that it was an early Monday class, haha).

It's really inspiring to see the progress you've made as a blogcritic and a writer in only a year; it really makes me feel confident in what I'm doing, too.

Katie said...

Phsymom, you will have to come back and tell me what you thought of it the 2nd time around. I always find that the book changes somehow, well really I do as a reader, but it's always fun to reread something years later. :)

Meg, It was so great to say hi to you in person today! :) Thanks so much for being so nice. I was pretty nervous but I hope that what I had to say was useful, helpful. Something :) And everything I've read of yours is so great. A year from now who knows? Maybe you'll be getting paid and be a household name :) It's just work and passion.

Jordan said...

It was great to meet you today! Thanks for taking time to come visit. :) It's amazing how much you do with so little time.

Yoga Gal said...

My favorite vampire novel is the classic tale of Bram Stoker, you see Dracula through other people's eyes through letters. As with the Anne Rice classic "Interview with a vampire" where a tale is told more third person about the real Vampire hero. Anne Rice is a lovely writer who gives you great historical factual information mixed with her fiction. This month I going to be sharing ghost shorties from my part of the world. Check out my blog.

SQT said...

I'm getting back into my vampire fiction phase. I just read The Nimble Man, which is the first in a series that features vamps, demons, mages and so on. I liked it and it got me in the mood for more.

I just got the first two Jaz Parks books and I'm looking forward to read those too.

Sevenine said...

Thanks for the comments and congrats, Katie! It's not really that big a deal - my college paper only comes out three times a semester, and I'm already an editor for it. Each student in my class has to do a feature story either for this issue or the next one, so I thought it would be easier if my favorite hobby was the core of the feature. Can't believe I got it approved by my instructor, to be honest! In addition, I'll be doing the editorial column and two other stories, so I have my hands full. But it's fun! I'm thankful I like writing.

Katie said...

Jordon, thanks for taking the time to stop by. :) It was really nice to met you too. Mel always talks out his class at OU, now I know why :)

Yoga Gal, Dracula is always a good choice. One of my favorites as well although I find I prefer the more modern stuff. I still need to read Anne Rice... I guess I'll get there. :)

SQT, hey thanks for stopping by!:) I'll have to pick up a copy of the Nimble Man, sounds good. I haven't started the Jaz Parks stuff yet, it's next, but I can't wait. It should be really great.:)

Sevenine, well I still think it is really great. It sounds like you do so much already. Wow. :)