by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #13
Also in this series: Angels' Blood, Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort , Archangel's Blade, Angels' Flight, Archangel's Storm
Publication Date: November 24, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A horrifying secret rises in the aftermath of an archangelic war in New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s deadly and beautiful Guild Hunter world...
The Archangel of Death and the Archangel of Disease may be gone but their legacy of evil lives on—especially in Africa, where the shambling, rotting creatures called the reborn have gained a glimmer of vicious intelligence.
It is up to Titus, archangel of this vast continent, to stop the reborn from spreading across the world. Titus can’t do it alone, but of the surviving powerful angels and archangels, large numbers are wounded, while the rest are fighting a surge of murderous vampires.
There is no one left…but the Hummingbird. Old, powerful, her mind long a broken kaleidoscope. Now, she must stand at Titus’s side against a tide of death upon a discovery more chilling than any other. For the Archangel of Disease has left them one last terrible gift…
Content warnings: View Spoiler »graphic gory violence and death (including death in childbirth), fantasy violence (basically zombies, including child zombies), gaslighting, abusive domestic relationship « Hide Spoiler
I have been waiting for this book for what seems like forever, especially once the cover art was posted. The Guild Hunter series always tends to be on the darker side of paranormal, and while this book certainly lives up to that in some respects, it’s also an adorably sweet romance and a nice breather after the mayhem of feels that was Archangel’s War.
“No one was ever wary of the Hummingbird. She was meant to be lightness and gentleness and kindness and no threat at all. All that was part of her nature, it was true. But Sharine was part of the Hummingbird, too, and a long time ago, Sharine had been far more than an artist with her head in the clouds.”
Sharine’s life has been formed by loss from the time she was a young angel. It left her craving love, to the point where she accepted a relationship that didn’t allow her to be herself. She hid so much of herself, made herself smaller, to fit in the box that others put her in that she couldn’t cope when that still didn’t work and they withdrew their love. About the only thing that was left of herself was her art, and so she became the Hummingbird, beloved of all angelkind but also broken. This book is very heroine-centric, in that a lot of it is Sharine relearning her worth and confidence. But, my god, she is FIERCE. This does affect the romance in that it leads to a slow burn romantic arc. It’s necessary for Sharine to be secure in who she is now before she can enter into a relationship with an archangel.
“Men who call strong women shrews,” she said in a tone formed of sugar syrup and molasses, “are often men scared of a woman’s strength.”
One of the things I really love about Rafael and Elena’s arc (despite Rafael being nearly 100% alphahole in the first book) is how Elena insists on their relationship being a partnership despite their differences in power. Titus is starting out way lower on the alphahole scale, and from the beginning Sharine has no issues setting him straight on how she expects to be treated. She’s used to being treated as a fragile and already mostly broken treasure, something that needs to be coddled and protected. Titus and his people fall in line with that – with a bit of minor grumbling because, seriously, who sends a defenseless artist into what’s essentially a war zone? – but Sharine is done with being the fragile Hummingbird. Titus is left struggling to reconcile what he’s heard about the Hummingbird and the woman in front of him, and, oh, also dealing with this pesky attraction to someone who’s an Ancient, even if she doesn’t act like one. There’s some particularly humorous scenes of Sharine learning to use modern technology like cellphones that I thought were absolutely golden. And Titus, despite being an archangel, is a person who loves deeply, especially
“What’s it like to be so arrogant?” she asked musingly. “Do you spend at least an hour a day imagining all the ways in which you are wonderful?”
Of course, all this is happening while Titus is attempting to rid his territory of a particularly dangerous strain of Lijuan’s Reborn. To add insult to injury, he’s also adjusting to ruling Charisemnon’s territory as well, including figuring out who in the former archangel’s structure can be trusted. There’s some particularly pointed – and timely – words about people in positions of power who keep quietly doing their jobs, even when those above them are committing atrocities. They may not be evil themselves, but doing nothing is in and of itself a choice.
For the first time since she’d begun to store memories, she didn’t—what was that statement she’d heard one of the young townswomen say?—yes, that was it: she did not give a shit. And it was glorious.
As for previous couples, there’s not too much in the book, but the tidbits that are there are gold – particularly Elena’s gift to Sharine. We do get some time with Illium and Aodhan and their relationships with Sharine, and there’s definitely some teasers for who the next book might be about (View Spoiler »Aodhan and Suyin??? « Hide Spoiler). All I know is that I now have to wait another year, at the least, for another Guild Hunter book.
Overall, I loved this book, and it’s both the perfect follow-up to the last book and the perfect book for 2020.