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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Book Review -- Breath Of Angel

Before I get on with the review, I wanted to let you know I'm actually in two other places this morning as well.  The first place is at the Brave New Words blog, which is the blog for the 2012 science fiction YA debuts.  I'm blogging about what other media inspires me to write.  

And I'm at Adventures in Children's Publishing with my awesome agent, talking about my path to publication.   

Please stop by both places and say hi!             

And now onto the review.                                     

Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley
Publisher: Waterbrook Press (June 21, 2011
Paperback: 256 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 4 of 5 feathers
Source: Author’s Publicist

Melaia, a young priestess, witnesses the gruesome murder of an emaciated stranger in the temple courtyard. Just after she discovers wings on the stranger, the murderer enters the temple, and what Melaia has known only through song and story suddenly takes on flesh. Angels and shape-shifters were myths and stories . . . until now.

Melaia finds herself in the middle of a blood feud between two immortal brothers who destroyed the stairway to heaven, stranding angels in the earthly realm.  When the feud turns violent and Melaia becomes a target, she finds refuge with a band of wandering angels attempting to restore the stairway. But the restoration is impossible without the repayment of an ancient debt, the “breath of angel, blood of man,” a payment that involves Melaia’s heart, soul, and destiny. 

*Disclaimer: This book was not something I would have picked for myself.  It’s high fantasy and no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can never get into these types of books.  Therefore, this review is based on the quality of book and whether or not I thought someone who DOES read this genre would enjoy it. 

REVIEW:  This is another angel story in the deluge that’s hitting the market ( : P ), but it’s different as it’s not set in modern times.  It takes place in a high fantasy medieval-type world. And while it’s the typical good vs evil storyline that’s common with angel books, it’s different in the fact that it’s not demons Melaia is “fighting” against.  It’s two brothers who destroyed the stairway to heaven, which caused all the earthbound angels and the souls of people who’ve died to be trapped on Earth.

It starts with a stranger stumbling into a temple where the MC, Melaia, is a priestess training to be high priestess, but is a chantress now.  She’s also a death-prophet, meaning she can see the spirit of someone dying trying to escape.  She has a harp that she uses to help those who are dying to either pass on calmly or to stop them from dying. 

Anyway, the man stumbles into the temple only to be attacked by a giant hawk and killed.

The hawk turns into a man and demands that Melaia tell the story of the two brothers and the stairway to heaven.

I don’t want to go to far into the story, and give too much away, but this was an enjoyable read, even for me, someone who doesn’t like high fantasy. 

I did feel it dragged a bit and I found it hard to get into (this was not due to the story itself, but more to the point that I’ve found all high-fantasy dragging and hard to get into), but, once in the story, I wanted to know what was going to happen next and was driven to keep reading. 

Characters:  Melaia is a very enjoyable and strong heroine.  I loved finding out who she really was and going on her adventures with her.  There were times, however, that I felt she was too naïve for her own good.  Granted, considering she’d been stuck inside a temple the whole of her life, this isn’t very surprising. And while I would have liked to have seen more of her obvious intelligence play a role with who she trusted and/or didn’t trust, I don’t suppose the story would have been the same.  ; )

The other characters are just as well rounded and fascinating as Melaia.  Especially Trevin, who I could never quite figure out.

I think my favorite part of the entire story was actually learning about the angelology.  It was utterly fascinating and I couldn't get enough.

Cover:  I really liked the cover, but I honestly feel a bit deceived by it.  It isn’t the typical cover I’ve come to expect from high fantasy.  However, knowing that, I have to give the marketing department kudos for coming up with a package that made me want to read it, where I probably would have passed.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this story and I’m glad I was able to put my prejudices against high fantasy away long enough to read it.  It makes an excellent addition to my angel book collection.

Find Karyn Henley

Purchase Breath of Angel