Honesty compels me to admit that I didn’t want to read Angeli: The Pirate, the Angel, and the Irishman. I’d heard that if I liked Buffy, then I would probably enjoy Angeli. Now, I love Buffy; and when I say that I love Buffy I mean that I stayed with it when it moved into comic book format. I’m that person. But I’ve also had the “Buffy fans will like it” line thrown at me, only to find myself reading some terrible Twilight-lite, just often enough to be jaded.
So why did I read Angeli? Mostly because I read Amy Vansant’s blog and I trusted that, even if I hated the story, it would at least be well-written. And partly because she kept tweeting about it – persistence does pay off.
Angeli is the story of Anne Bonny who is one of a select group called Sentinels. These are humans who are granted special powers, including an extended lifespan, in order to hunt down rogue Angels (known as Perfidia) who feed on humanity. Angeli opens in the present day, then plunges back into the past to show how Anne became a Sentinel, and her introduction to Michael, an angel, and Con, another Sentinel, both of whom become her lovers. Context given, we return to the present, and the unusual hunt with which Anne is tasked. It emerges that this is no ordinary Perfidian, and moreover he has a history with Anne, Michael, and Con.
My first thought on seeing the name Anne Bonny was “Oh, like the pirate.” I love pirates, and Anne Bonny and Mary Read are two of my favourites, so you can imagine my delight when it turned out that she’s that Anne Bonny (I know it says pirate in the title, I just assumed the pirate would be a guy). Using an actual historical figure is a choice that could have gone badly wrong, but it’s cleverly woven into the plot and acts as a wry comment on how legends are formed.
Arguably Milton popularised the world-view of Angels that most of the Western world subscribes to, and I spent at least the first half of the book grumbling to myself because “aren’t fallen Angels essentially Demons” and “why doesn’t she explain the lore properly”? As I got into the final third it became clear that none of the characters have this information – the creation and purpose of the Angels, and the reason some of them fall, is the mystery at the heart of this story. What had been my biggest bugbear became the thing I enjoyed most about the story.
There were a few unresolved niggles. I felt like the ‘flashbacks’ to Anne’s history could have been interwoven with the present day story, as I’d half forgotten what had happened in Chapter 1 by the time we were caught up. I would also have liked an earlier introduction of Meili (and I think there’s a mistake there as when Con is introduced we’re told that his mentor Nathaniel reports to Michael, but later Con says that Nathaniel reports to Meili). I also had a little trouble understanding Jeffrey’s inclusion – he didn’t seem to add anything that made it worth Anne exposing her and Michael’s true nature.
The ending tied up most of the plot strands, but some were left hanging over to future instalments, including the all-important “What’s really going on?” While I don’t mind a series, the best ones make their individual books feel like standalone stories. This feels more like the first part of a triple-decker1 than a complete novel, which left me feeling a bit unsatisfied.
Overall, I enjoyed Angeli and I’m looking forward to the next instalment. If you like stories which rework old legends, and don’t spoon feed you answers, then I think you’ll enjoy it too.
1. For those unfamiliar with the term, I’m referring to the Victorian practice of splitting one novel into 3 and publishing the parts separately.↩