Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Breath of Angel

Breath of Angel
Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Fantasy/Christian Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult (15 and up)
Recommended for: Fans of fantasy stories, YA readers, others who enjoy a good, clean fantasy
Trigger Warnings: Murder, violence

My Thoughts: In my original review, I mentioned that this would possibly be appropriate for readers as young as 12, but re-reading it, I'm thinking maybe slightly older. I was remembering the sorts of books I read at age 12, but I was reading at about the level of an 18-year-old when I was 12, so... However, there is no swearing or sex (although there are mild sexual situations) in this book.

I mention in my original review (placed at the bottom) that I was surprised to learn this was considered Christian fantasy. As I reevaluated this book, part of that surprise came clearer: it is apparently perfectly okay in this world to take lovers without being married, even the priestesses. Personally, I think that's just fine, but it sort of surprised me to notice it.

I really like the characters in this book, and their individual mannerisms, such as Pym's interesting oaths, and Livia's stiffness. I also found a comment that really brings home to me the difference between a strong female character and one of the new “spunky” types that annoy me so much. Jarrod says to Meleia, “It's one thing to be determined and steadfast. It's another to be bullheaded and willful.” That cuts right into the crux of the matter, I think. Too often writers make willful and bullheaded characters, intending that they be “spunky” but they come off as just annoying. It's much harder to write a steadfast and determined heroine, but I think Melia is moving that way by the end of the book. I still enjoyed it a lot and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. I will be reading the rest of the series over the course of the week.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My original review is below.

Series Information: Breath of Angel is book 1 in the Angelaeon Cycle, published in June 2011.
Book 2: Eye of Sword, published in June 2012 (to be reviewed soon)
Book 3: Throat of Night, published in March 2013 (to be reviewed soon)

Synopsis: The stranger’s cloak had fallen back, and with it, a long, white, blood-stained wing.

When Melaia, a young priestess, witnesses the gruesome murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard, age-old legends recited in song suddenly come to life. She discovers wings on the stranger, and the murderer takes the shape of both a hawk and a man. 

Angels. Shape-shifters. 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 Melaia becomes a target, she finds refuge with a band of angels attempting to restore the stairway. But the restoration is impossible without settling an ancient debt—the “breath of angel, blood of man,” a payment that involves Melaia’s heart, soul, and destiny.

My Original Review: Posted 6/21/2011:
My Synopsis: Melaia is a young priestess in Navia, in training to take over as high priestess when the current high priestess—Hanamel (Hanni)—steps down. Three younger novice priestesses tend the temple as well—Iona, who is 14; Nuri, who is 12; and Peron, who is six. One evening when Melaia is outside, a thin, disheveled-looking man staggers into the courtyard. As is the custom of the temple, she offers him rest and succor, but before he can get inside he is attacked—viciously—by a hawk, which fatally wounds him. While preparing his body for burial, Melaia discovers he has wings—he is an angel. She is astounded, because she thought angels were just a myth. Soon another man comes into the temple, threatens the priestesses and disturbs the body—saying very odd things indeed. When Hanni and Benasin—a friend and advisor to the Overlord—arrive, just in the nick of time, they are able to drive him off.

But Melaia's adventures are just beginning—she is summoned to the Overlord, who ends up selling Benasin's harp to a kingsman as a gift for the King—and throws Melaia in as an extra bonus. She finds herself on the way to Redcliff, the kingdom's seat. Then things start to get really weird …

My Thoughts: I don't want to outline any more of the plot, so as to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say that Melaia learns that what she thought she knew was mostly wrong—even about herself. She matures significantly in the course of this, the first book in the series. The second book, Eye of the Sword: A Novel (The Angelaeon Circle), is due out in 2012, so be on the lookout for that.

I was much impressed by the story-telling ability of this author—the story flowed smoothly, transitions were clean and the characters were well-developed and interesting. Apparently this book is classified as Christian fiction, but I'm not sure why—while the religion espoused in this novel is monotheistic, it is not much like Christianity. But this book is clean—no swearing, no sex—and safe for people who are bothered by such in the books they read.

I can recommend this book for anyone from 12 on up—under 12 I think it might be a bit scary, but it depends on the young person him- or herself. It's also a book that older readers can enjoy—an adventure, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong—all that great epic stuff is here, but done in a fairly unique way. Check it out!

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  1. Hmm, I know it's older (with older review) but hadn't heard of it before. Thank you.

    1. It's a good book. So was the 2nd. I'm chomping on the bit to start #3... soon,my precious, soon *strokes new Kindle*


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