Angel of Death

Angel of Death (The Chosen Chronicles #1)Angel of Death by Karen Dales
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen Dales is a Mistress of storytelling and it is not hard to understand why this novel is award winning.

Allow me to be honest: I received this series directly from the author in exchange for a review (and to help her celebrate her birthday). Even if I hadn’t received it for free, I would gladly pay her purchasing price for all three books and write these reviews.

What a stunning read! I began reading this novel almost immediately after reading Changeling, the prequel. What is so cunningly started in the prequel is masterfully resumed in Angel of Death, some 1400 years later.

The time jump did take me by surprise initially but the surprise was short lived, my attention easily being swept away into the world of Victorian London. Dales brings this time era to life as if she had lived there at some point, making me wonder if perhaps she too is secretly Chosen and only pretending to be a mortal making up stories about her kind. I was at first also slightly disgruntled with so much time passing between the two books. As Changeling ended I had only just begun to truly fall in love with ‘the boy’. I wanted to follow his journey as he walked it. However, the beautiful thing about Dales’ writing is that she knows her characters so well that filling that time gap was accomplished over the course of this entire novel, and I scarce realized it until I had nearly finished the book.
I was that captivated by the story!
Gwyn is a character unlike any other I have ever read. While I’m not a fan of the upsurge of vampire, werewolf, and zombie themed books as of late, Dales’ Gwyn and the world he inhabits are as unique as fingerprints. Who is Gwyn? Why does iron affect him so? Is he truly Fay that crossing moving water puts him at such tremendous disadvantage?
Really, who thinks of combining Fay (and not just any Fay but the god of Life and Death, Gwyn ap Nudd himself) with vampires and does it with such unforeseen success? Karen Dales.
Who gives us a main character whose very origin is cast in such mystical doubt, turned creature of the night and still retains more humanity than the mortals he preys upon? Karen Dales.
The character of Jeanie Stuart is an absolute delight. I fell in love with her from the get go and became so fully invested in the outcome of the romantic aspect that I was often reduced to tears. This is significant in that I rarely cry over a book unless I have come to love a character as much as a member of my family. And I’m not just talking a little boo-hoo’ing. I had a full on melt down at the end of the book. This speaks volumes to the devotion Dales has to and for her characters, bringing them to life as if she too loves them like family.
While Changeling sets us up for the mystery of ‘the boy’, Angel of Death gives us a mystery within a mystery. We come to discover that the intrigue over who Gwyn really is in fact the broader theme, while the chase to discover the culprit responsible for the genocide of Vampires is the vehicle carrying the broader mystery forward. Through Gwyn’s forced interactions with the Noble Fernando de Sagres; the feisty, stubborn housekeeper and eventual love interest Jeanie Stuart; and the ensuing cast of Bridget, Hugo, Violet and the monks of St. Martin’s Abbey, we are compelled to watch a myriad of relationships burgeon. Each relationship serves to change not only Gwyn but all parties involved so that by the end of the story each and every important character has grown and developed in some fundamental way.
Dales sees her characters through from beginning, middle to end with all the care of a mother, knowing the reality of her children but loving them unconditionally, shepherding her flock to adulthood and beyond.
I truly did not see any of the twists at the end coming. Dales pays just as much attention to crafting drama and suspense as she does bringing her characters to endearing life. There were many nights when I stayed up long past bedtime because I just had to know what was going to happen next.
I loved this story. Dales delivers on almost every count, and I say almost because the text itself was riddled with editing misses. The word ‘quiet’ was used in place of ‘quite’ on a frequent basis, as well as ‘where’ instead of ‘were’. I also noticed an inexplicable trend of possessive nouns missing the necessary apostrophe, but not all possessives. In many cases half the possessives in any given paragraph had apostrophes and the other half did not, sometimes occurring even within the same sentence. Despite the proliferation of these editing misses my enjoyment of the story was never diminished.
I’m rating this review at a 5 star based on merit of the storytelling. The writing was otherwise outstanding and solid.
Kudos Ms. Dales. You have brought a deliciously fresh take to the horror genre, and, specifically, Vampire subgenre. I’ll take Gwyn over Lestat any day, thank you very much.

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