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REVIEW: Demon Angel by Meljean Brook

Dear Ms Brook,

Jane’s been raving about this book for weeks now. I can almost see her bouncing up and down in her chair when she posts about it. Jane’s a hard sell so when we worked out that this would be our next dueling review, I was psyched. A little daunted by the length of the book (of course I left it to the last minute to read then write the review) but ready to go. I can honestly say I haven’t read many books lately that have kept me guessing and wondering “what’s next” but this is one of them.

You’ve created a unique and different world. One in which two different groups battle each other for human souls. The Guardians are former humans who, at the moment of their death, are transformed via a ritual into beings with eternal life. They try to circumvent the efforts of the second group thereby allowing humans to resist temptation and evil which saves their souls. Demons and minions of Lucifer are the second group. Though bound to respect human free will, they will tempt, sway and lure humans into death which then chucks their souls straight to hell. “Angel Demon” focuses on two main characters who are on opposite sides of the soul contest, Hugh who is a Guardian and Lilith who is a made demon.

Centuries ago, the two met when Hugh was still human and despite their differences, sensed an attraction to each other. It was beyond physical and it lasted for 800 years until Hugh grew fed up with the restrictions on his actions to save humans. He “fell” and was allowed to resume his human form, exactly the same age as when he first became a Guardian. One of his last acts as a Guardian was an attempt to free Lilith from the bond holding her to Lucifer’s service. Unaware that he failed in this, he’s surprised to cross paths with her again 16 years later in San Francisco where she’s living as an FBI agent. Lucifer is now trying to use human institutions and bureaucracies to plant his agents and further his take of souls. And a little pain and misery on their part never hurts his day either.

Hugh has made a life for himself as a college professor and gathered a coterie of student friends as well as a vampire friend who both he and Lilith know. The first inkling he has that some master plan against him is in the works is when several of his friends begin to disappear then reappear as corpses killed during grisly ritual slayings. Meanwhile, Lilith is investigating the sudden appearance of several Nosferatu in the city. They are former angels who fence-sat during the battle between Lucifer and his fallen angels and God. As punishment, they’ve been turned into tall, ghostly-white blood suckers. They aren’t supposed to be able to stand sunlight or stay awake during the day but, damned if that isn’t what the ones in SF are doing. Slaying them is one of the few things Guardians and demons have in common and Lilith is happy to dispatch a few while she tries to figure out why so many are gathering in the city.

Slowly Hugh and Lilith begin to figure out that someone has a plan. One which will end in Hugh’s death and his soul’s quick trip straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200. What these two must do is figure out what the hell is going on, how the hell to thwart it and whether the hell to continue to fight their centuries long passion for each other or give into it with cataclysmic results.

This is a long novel. One that is chock full of plot and characters and I honestly haven’t even touched on a lot of what’s going on here. This review’d be 3 pages long if I attempted it. I like that there are layers to the characters and their actions. Readers shouldn’t just skim through this book as information is slowly revealed throughout which makes us engage our brain and really concentrate on the action. You pay the reader the compliment of not spoon feeding them with boring info dumping. I hate it when the action of a book comes to a dead halt for 2-3 pages of world-building information. You also don’t use the easy out of having one character in the book explain something to another, who should know it, in order to actually explain it to the reader. Yes, it is more work for the reader to slowly piece together all the various elements but it’s far more believable. You’re also lucky that your editor appears to have given you the space to slowly spin all this out, a luxury I realize authors don’t usually have.

I enjoyed the more gritty and realistic version of hell. It’s not supposed to be nice or cutesy (though I do like some books that feature this). Some of the features and punishments are incredibly inventive. Did you make these up or borrow from a source I should know (no, I’ve not read Dante or Milton, bad me)? Remind me never to make you mad! ;) I also adore Sir Pup, Lilith’s pet hellhound. I might have to start calling my dog that.

As I said earlier, this is an intricately plotted book but one that seems well thought out. It also has an interesting use of nosferatu vs vampires. One thing I really liked is that we can see that other characters are being set up for future books but it’s not intrusive to THIS book. They all have a reason for being in “Demon Angel” and the information revealed about them is enough for this book while still leaving some questions about them for their own.

So considering the above love-fest, why is my grade not an A? Well, maybe plot is too intricate in places? I lost track of what was going on a few times and had to backtrack. There were also times when I lost track of who was speaking or doing things in a scene and had to stop to try and figure it out. And sometimes there was just too much talking. Talk, talk, talk. Yes, it’s cerebral talk and made me really pay attention to catch all the nuances (good) but some scenes tended to drag a little (bad). And once Lilith and Hugh gave into their physical attraction, there were some moments of inappropriate lust towards the end.

Would demons be bound by humans’ free will? OK, I’ll accept it as part of your worldbuilding but I think it’s iffy. I also have some theoretical questions about Lilith’s original sacrifice and change to halfling. It was done during the Roman era before Christ…so how did Carthaginians know to sacrifice to Lucifer? Isn’t he a Judeo Christian concept? Or is he just the embodiment of all evil and his form/name have changed based on different religions? And why wouldn’t real angels show up to help thwart Lucifer’s plans? I know, I know, this is a book about Guardians but with hell up in arms and Lucifer making plans for massive expansion, I can’t see any beings who oppose him just sitting on their asses and singing hymns of praise to God.

Yet, this is a book which makes me think and think about it even days after finishing it. I was challenged to grasp all the subtleties and that’s never a bad thing. I think it will spark lots of debates. It’s an amazing first time book and one I did enjoy delving into. B+

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

36 Comments

  1. Meljean
    Jan 01, 2007 @ 22:44:33

    Jayne and Jane — thank you both so much for these incredible reviews, and I’m so, so, so overwhelmed and glad that you enjoyed Demon Angel.

    Did you make these up or borrow from a source I should know (no, I’ve not read Dante or Milton, bad me)?

    Both Dante and Milton, but the primary imagery came from Hieronymus Bosch’s artwork — that guy was seriously inventive and, judging solely by his vision of Hell, very likely psychotic. *g* But then, I dunno, maybe I am, too.

    Again, thank you,
    Meljean

  2. Jackie
    Jan 01, 2007 @ 23:21:27

    I can’t wait to read this book. Come on, B&N! Deliver my package already!

    Congratulations, MelJean!

  3. Jane
    Jan 01, 2007 @ 23:36:29

    I accepted the “free will” thing as part of the fantasy construct. It’s just one of those leaps of faith things. Your knowledge of history brought up an important concept that I never thought of and that is the devil/Lucifer as a Judeo Christian concept.

    Also how long has the battle between Lucifer and Belial (sp?) gone on?

    Is there any other way you could envision the story being told? I.e., could the part that shows the centuries of struggle been deleted and shown as a flashback instead? (I am not a fan of flashbacks).

    Because it was dialogue heavy, everything was shown and not told but as you said, it made it confusing at times. Was the story told a little too cleverly? Would it have changed the complexity and richness of the story if it wasn’t so dialogue intensive?

  4. Jayne
    Jan 02, 2007 @ 07:48:39

    Hieronymus Bosch’s

    Oh, lordy, how could I have forgotten him. You’re right. That dude was smoking some serious crack.

  5. Avaron Dale
    Jan 02, 2007 @ 08:07:27

    Jayne & Jane…

    I tried… I tried valiently to read this book. I even set it aside and tried again after the holidays (thinking maybe I had gotten ‘holy-ed’ out over them) and could not make it through to the start of the present time parts. I was both confused and lost… and this does not an enjoyable read make. *sigh* But I did try!

    It wasn’t that it was so descriptive and dialogue heavy. I’ve read and enjoyed MZB, so that’s not a problem, I just couldn’t get into it. I suppose I’ll be the one ‘dissenting’ DNF voice in the tons of cheers, hmm? Oh, and in answer to this:

    I know, I know, this is a book about Guardians but with hell up in arms and Lucifer making plans for massive expansion, I can’t see any beings who oppose him just sitting on their asses and singing hymns of praise to God.

    In the immortal words of Dark Helmet: “Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.” I read that comment to my DH and he and I agreed that yeah, they likely would be singing away and not noticing until it was too late to stop the collapse of the world as we know it.

    Cheers,
    Avaron

  6. Jane
    Jan 02, 2007 @ 08:54:34

    Avaron – I have often felt like the lone voice but often times those who disagree feel that they can’t speak up. I am glad that you did. There is no book, imo, that everyone will like. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Jayne
    Jan 02, 2007 @ 09:30:00

    Avaron, I loved Spaceballs! It’s corny, and silly and delightful. I would hope for better from the angels but, you never know….

    As someone who’s done more than her share of “I just don’t get it” reviews, I’m glad you spoke up. As Jane says, dissenting opinions are always welcome. Just as long as you don’t call us slag hag bitches. ;)

  8. Jane A.
    Jan 02, 2007 @ 11:04:49

    I’m looking forward to picking up a copy of this book (will it be out as an ebook??) but I have a question. Would it be helpful in following the plot if I read the short story in Hot Spell first ? Maybe help a bit with background? I know that one is out in ebook and I can download it right away.

  9. Jane
    Jan 02, 2007 @ 13:35:32

    Jane – I think it does help to read the hot spell antho first. I don’t know if the book will be released as an ebook. Maybe Ms. Brook has an answer. Berkley is very hit and miss with its ebook releases.

    and Jayne, my “questions” in the comments were directed to you – or any other reader. LOL

  10. Jayne
    Jan 02, 2007 @ 19:34:05

    Also how long has the battle between Lucifer and Belial (sp?) gone on?

    Hadn’t this already started when the book began? So at least 800 years.

    Is there any other way you could envision the story being told? I.e., could the part that shows the centuries of struggle been deleted and shown as a flashback instead? (I am not a fan of flashbacks).

    Actually, I liked the historical bits best. I think flashbacks can work well but only if they don’t bring the action of the current story to a dead halt.

    Because it was dialogue heavy, everything was shown and not told but as you said, it made it confusing at times. Was the story told a little too cleverly? Would it have changed the complexity and richness of the story if it wasn’t so dialogue intensive?

    Yes, I think it would have changed it. Perhaps a little snipping and tucking would have shortened some of the scenes. An occasional dialgoue tag to reorient readers would have helped. But even as I was reading it and thinking, “this is long,” I was still enjoying the exchanges. Maybe if there were fewer of them? I dunno…

  11. May
    Jan 03, 2007 @ 09:29:11

    [quote comment="17831"]

    Is there any other way you could envision the story being told? I.e., could the part that shows the centuries of struggle been deleted and shown as a flashback instead? (I am not a fan of flashbacks).

    Actually, I liked the historical bits best. I think flashbacks can work well but only if they don’t bring the action of the current story to a dead halt.[/quote]

    Yes, it was the same for me. Amazing because I don’t read historicals any more.

  12. Jane A.
    Jan 03, 2007 @ 10:21:50

    If you sent me a copy of the book, I promise to comment! :) I’m going to download Hot Spell today and will read that first per your suggestion. I tend to get a little lost in complicated plots and I’m hoping a little background might help. I’m very interested in seeing how this book works for me, given what’s currently been discussed about it.

  13. kardis
    Jan 03, 2007 @ 12:41:32

    I can’t wait to go out and get this book so I can join in the love fest right proper!

  14. sybil
    Jan 03, 2007 @ 13:04:11

    me me me

    pick me!

    :) kidding… really… Hey I even bought a copy for my keeper shelf last night.

  15. Meljean Brook
    Jan 04, 2007 @ 01:53:38

    SPOILERS IN THIS POST:

    Jayne posted a couple of questions at the end of her review that I can (kind of) answer — this does include spoilers, so I’ll try to mark those where appropriate.

    [quote]Would demons be bound by humans’ free will?[/quote]

    They can go against a human’s free will, but if they do they’ll be destroyed or Punished, big time, and none of them are willing to accept the consequences. And not just because (as far as anyone knows) God dictated it, but because Lucifer gets the souls he wants by damning them … and if a demon forces a human to do something evil against their will, it doesn’t count, and Lucifer loses out on a soul.

    (For example, say that Lilith had somehow forced Hugh to kill Isabel — there’d be a death, and the horror of it might please Lucifer … but Lucifer isn’t likely to pat a demon on the head. He’ll twist the death around and say that Lilith’s actions cost him two souls (Isabel’s and Hugh’s) … and into the Pit or the frozen field she goes.) So fear of Lucifer has just as much to do with their respect for free will as anything — and demons aren’t likely to sacrifice themselves just to kill someone, or break the free will rule because they value themselves far too highly. No human is worth their own punishment or death.

    And it doesn’t prevent a demon from acting. If a penny was sitting in the middle of the floor, and the human walked to pick it up, the demon couldn’t physically stop him. But the demon could pick it up first, even if the human really, really wanted it. Or, if the human said, “It goes against my will if you to pick that up,” the demon could laugh in the human’s face and do it anyway.

    Most of the reasoning behind the free will thing stems from a need to determine whether everything is predestined, or people actually have a choice whether they’re damned or not … and whether they can change. If I say that free will and personal choice is instrumental in determining that, then humans have to be able to act according to their will, no matter the circumstances.

    I don’t know if that makes it still iffy, though :) I will be showing a demon going against free will later in the series (which, I know, doesn’t help here) — for this book, it was just one of the things I could state the rule for, but not show much about it, except for the bridge scene and that Lucifer would have had to either Punish, destroy, or transform Lilith after she went against the kid’s free will. But even that I couldn’t really show, because Lucifer had other plans for her, anyway.

    [quote]I also have some theoretical questions about Lilith’s original sacrifice and change to halfling. It was done during the Roman era before Christ-so how did Carthaginians know to sacrifice to Lucifer? Isn’t he a Judeo Christian concept? Or is he just the embodiment of all evil and his form/name have changed based on different religions?[/quote]

    The simple answer to the last part of the question is: yes.

    [color=red]SPOILER ALERT![/color]

    The long answer is this (and it doesn’t surprise me that this was brought up, because I only vaguely hinted at this in a couple of places — and, unfortunately, I didn’t have enough space/time to detail Lilith’s transformation or human life, and delving into the past stuff might have derailed the forward momentum of the plot, so I left it out):

    Lilith was pagan when she was sacrificed, and Lucifer was the one who approached the Carthaginians with the warning that Rome would descend on them, and convinced her father of it using his magic and scare tactics. So they didn’t sacrifice to Lucifer as much as they did at his behest.

    The vague reference to Lilith’s first religion, I tied up in the mention of the Furies. Michael tells her at the beginning that the role of the Fury sat much more easily on her, and when she was explaining to Hugh that she actually liked what she did, she mentions them again: that she thought of herself as one of the Furies, a servant of the gods–and not answerable even to the gods. (*g* — that’s on page 323 — I just had to go back and make sure the copy-editing hadn’t changed it from plural to singular :-) ) That’s the role she put herself in, because it was the concept most familiar to her at the time.

    But she’s also the ultimate survivor, and adapts to whatever she needs to in order to live: in this case, it was whatever story Lucifer wanted her to believe. So that is also why she refers to “Him” a couple of times through the novel (also, Plato used the concept of “God” that I think she would be familiar with — not in the Judeo-Christian sense of God, but in that Huge, Unknowable, Perfect Being way, so it wouldn’t be too big a stretch for her to make and eventually accept some kind of similar concept.)

    And something that wasn’t in the book at all (except for, again, obscure references from Michael when he was explaining the origin of the Guardians to Hugh), and I didn’t even think of explicitly referencing was Milton — I borrowed quite heavily from him and his way of incorporating all of the pagan gods into Paradise Lost — he basically explains away all other “gods” by naming them various demons and such, tempting and tricking people on Earth and inviting their idolatrous sacrifices.

    What I was trying to hint at (and probably didn’t succeed too well) with the Guardian history was that the angels who had been protecting Earth before the Second Battle were also mistaken for gods, and (along with a few demons, and perhaps beings from other realms) were the basis for Greek and Roman mythological figures, and in various other religions.

    And the Second Battle took place (and the angels left the Earth realm) before Greek/Roman eras, and I’m sorry that I’m being vague again — but it’s primarily because I’m heading into spoiler territory for future books.

    [quote]And why wouldn’t real angels show up to help thwart Lucifer’s plans? I know, I know, this is a book about Guardians but with hell up in arms and Lucifer making plans for massive expansion, I can’t see any beings who oppose him just sitting on their asses and singing hymns of praise to God.[/quote]

    *g* Neither can I. The simple (and, I know, frustrating answer) is that they can’t. But that’s also future book stuff — it is definitely a question that I had to consider and answer while I was writing the book … I just couldn’t address it in this one.

    And a question from Jane:

    [quote] Also how long has the battle between Lucifer and Belial (sp?) gone on?[/quote]

    It started while Lilith was in the Pit (her torture was interrupted so the demons could fight it out) — so about 800 years.

    So, I don’t know if this helps or answers anything, and it was all stuff that I don’t think could have been answered just by the book, which totally sucks on my part — but I’d be happy to clarify further if I just made it all seem even more confusing.

  16. Keishon
    Jan 17, 2007 @ 09:20:33

    Hi Meljean,

    I have a question for you about your character Hugh. In this fascinating world that you’ve created, what was the purpose in having Hugh Fall and still have his memories as a Guardian when he is now human? Is this explained further as I am about more than halfway through the book. I just found it odd that he would be human and remember his previous life and be over 800 years old even though he has “Fallen” from Heaven. This is your world to create but it is kind of…weird. He is not like Michael who is an Angel and able to walk with the humans and blend into their society. That doesn’t explain Hugh, tho. Am I missing something? I will try my best to finish this book today ;D

  17. Meljean Brook
    Jan 17, 2007 @ 10:20:59

    Hi Keishon!

    To be honest, it never occurred to me that he wouldn’t keep his memories. Part of the reason is that it seems like an invasion — something that Lucifer would do (and did) to his halflings and demons to Punish them: erasing part of their identity.

    And because they are chosen to be Guardians because of who they were as human, to erase those memories would create an entirely different person in service than had lived … and if Michael erased Hugh’s memories upon Falling, it would be almost cruel: a medieval boy thrust into modern-day society. (Which might read more like a time-travel than a paranormal, *g*) And because Guardians are (for the most part) honorable, even when they Fall, there is little danger that they would tell the world the truth — and even if they did, as in the case of Hugh’s book, no one would take it seriously.

    As for Michael, I should clarify that he isn’t an angel. He’s not the same as other Guardians, but he wasn’t one of the original angels. Angels couldn’t walk among humans without being mistaken for gods — Guardians can, because they were once human and retain the memories and habits of being human, so they fit in (like both Hugh and Michael fit in).

    Hope this answers it :)

  18. Keishon
    Jan 17, 2007 @ 12:24:06

    So Michael isn’t an original angel but was once human like Hugh? Lilith was once human too, correct? I’m confused about her origins and there’s been some clues up to the point where I am right now that hasn’t explained it fully to me yet. She was created by Lucifer but she’s a halfling? I should probably save most of these questions until after I’m finished reading but I am very curious about her origins.

    You know your novel reads more like fantasy than romance. Just sayin. Nothing wrong with that as it is heavy on the fantasy aspects…do you think you’ll eventually branch out into that field? 8) With romance added in as a bonus? Have you read Sarah Monette? I can hear Jane groaning already but I can’t help it.

  19. Meljean Brook
    Jan 17, 2007 @ 12:29:43

    lol! I actually have Monette on my list-to-buy because of what I’ve read at your blog and a couple of other sites. I think writing, though, I’ll probably stick with romance as my primary genre (although I don’t think I’d ever be able to write it without some paranormal/fantasy twist) If I can cut down the length of the novels and up my production to three a year, I’m hoping to get a steampunk-type series going, too, because that mix of history/technology/fantasy? It’s sweet bliss.

    Lilith once was human, but Lucifer did transform her in a ritual so that she’s a demon (in a corrupted version of what Michael does to change humans to Guardians). She is a halfling, but only in the sense that she’s not really human, and not really demon … just as vampires are halflings, in that they’re not really human and not really nosferatu, and Guardians are not really angels but not really human anymore. They’re all in an in-between state. (Lilith does say that Lucifer created her, but she’s using the term ironically — in both the sense that he can’t really “create” anything in the same way a Creator might (which is the sense that Hugh was familiar with) but also likening herself to Minerva, springing fully formed from Jove’s head (which is a reference that Hugh wasn’t familiar with, so he didn’t know if she was joking or not). It was another instance in which I was trying to negotiate between the pagan/Judeo-Christian parts of Lilith’s history and beliefs, and fuse them in some way, and probably didn’t pull it off so well.)

  20. Keishon
    Jan 17, 2007 @ 12:32:18

    because that mix of history/technology/fantasy? It’s sweet bliss. ///

    Ohhh, I would look for that series! Thanks for answering my questions. I have about a hundred more pages to go, looks like so let me finish. Thanks so much.

  21. Jane A
    Jan 26, 2007 @ 06:32:29

    Finally, I got back from my trip and Demon Angel was here waiting for me. Normally I can read a book in just a day or two, but this one is taking quite a bit more time. However, I’m really, really enjoying it. I’m about half way through and at this point I’d give it an A-. Yes, as has been mentioned there are some pretty obscure conversations and a few times I just haven’t been able to follow things even when I read over them multiple times. But more often than not I [i]do[/i] get it (I was afraid, from the reviews that I wouldn’t!) and I am loving that this book is making me think. I have come to realize how comparatively boring some of the other more straightforward books I’ve been reading are.

    I think it helped that I read the reviews first explaining quite a few things about the “Meljean World” demons, the underworld, Guardians, etc. I also read the story in the anthology “Hot Spell”, which helped, too.

    More thoughts later…

  22. Devon
    Jan 27, 2007 @ 08:34:28

    Liked: Hugh, Lilith and all the characters; the development of the romance, and the worldbuilding.

    Not so much: The last hundred pages or so were really slow. I kept wanting to skim ahead to the next Hugh/Lilith interaction.

  23. Keishon
    Jan 17, 2007 @ 12:37:33

    You know, so far, Lilith baffles me. She’s a halfing created by Lucifer and her job is to tempt and condemn souls for Lucifer’s army. Yet her temptations are thwarted by Hugh who eventually gets a sword to the heart is is transformed to a Guardian and Lilith is punished for it. Her feelings for Hugh is what makes her baffling to me. Her friendship to Colin is even more bafflement because as a demon, she gets no pleasure from good deeds only from bad deeds, correct? I feel as if I don’t know the complete history that this story is constructed from and must finish this book. But here are a few of my thoughts for now.

  24. Janine
    Jan 06, 2007 @ 08:36:38

    Okay, so “couldn’t be arsed to read it” is too strong. I was very much looking forward to this book and I’ve enjoyed parts of it but… I’m about halfway through it and well, I’m not feeling compelled to finish. [Meljean, if you peeked in, please know that from what I've seen of your presence online, you seem like a sweet person and my post is in no way intended to offend]. There is a lot to like in Demon Angel, especially the out-of-the-box characters and the unusual premise. I like both Hugh and Lilith and I admire the creativity that went into this book.

    But I’m also struggling to finish it. I read fifteen or so pages, and then I put it down for the day. Then I read another dozen, and I put it down for the day. At this rate I won’t finish it for review within this month when it’s the book club selection. It’s not that it’s a bad book, it’s just that it doesn’t have much narrative drive. The pacing is slow, and though there have been slow books I’ve loved (such as Rosenthal’s The Slightest Provocation), that tends to happen only with books that have exceptional prose and characterization. Much as I like Hugh and Lilith, they don’t quite reach those exceptional heights for me, and I’m finding the writing style a bit stilted. So, in the absence of truly marvelous language and characters, the pacing is dragging me down. I want the book to be tighter and leaner than it is.

    To elaborate more on some of the things that I feel are missing from this book, I wish there were more visual setting descriptions in Demon Angel. I’m a reader with a strong visual imagination, and I like to be able to form pictures in my head as I read. Right now I’ve got great pictures of Lilith and Hugh, but not much of places. A lot of the book is taking place in dialogue and character thoughts, and I hanker for more concrete physical details — visuals, but also scents, textures, sounds, etc. Some of the character thoughts are a bit repetitive and could be more compressed.

    I’ve also noticed that while I’m invested in Hugh and Lilith’s relationship, I’m not all that concerned about the fate of mankind. And that feels off to me — it seems to me that if demons and Guardians and Lucifer play a big role in a story, then I should care about the fate of mankind more (but as I said, I’m only slightly less than halfway through). Also, a student of Ian’s has turned up dead, and I don’t really care about him, either.

    There are a lot of good things to be said for the book — Jane and Jayne have already said many of them — and I don’t feel that it’s a bad book so far. I would give the portion I’ve read a C+. But I don’t know if I should push through to finish, and that presents me with a dilemma, since I told Jane and Jayne I would review Demon Angel. A DNF grade implies a horrible book, but honestly, in my case DNF indicates more than anything that I’m a finicky and impatient reader, and that this book, while it clearly has merits, isn’t satisfying me.

    What to do, what to do?

  25. Jane
    Jan 29, 2007 @ 08:57:26

    Keishon – I have found Meljean’s book to more closely similar to fantasy books than romance. This is not to say that the book is without romance because at its core the story is about Lilith and Hugh and their powerful love for one another. However, the depth and care of the worldbuilding is not something we often see in romances. Many of the romances in the recent past featuring the paranormal were quite weak in the world building area. Recently, I think, we’ve seen a surge of better worldbuilding. Two recent examples that spring to mind are Elizabeth Vaughan’s War-series and Nalini Singh’s Slave to Sensation.

  26. Jane A.
    Jan 31, 2007 @ 12:02:12

    After saying earlier that I was following the plot pretty well despite some obscure language, I found Chapter 39 really confused me.

    SPOILERS:

    Particularly, what did Lilith lie about at the end of Chapter 39? She’d made a bargain with Lucifer, wouldn’t lying about that be reneging on her bargain? I gathered that she ended up giving Michael’s sword to Belial? And then Michael demands Lucifer close the gates of hell within 24 hours. How can he ask that since he didn’t win the bargain? I’m not getting exactly what happened. Because I flew through the end of the book and then didn’t understand these key points I have to revise my earlier grade to a B or B+. It seems like it shouldn’t be so hard to figure all this out! Instead of feeling satisfied upon closing the book I’m left frustrated.

  27. Meljean
    Jan 31, 2007 @ 13:03:03

    Spoilers…

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    -
    [quote comment="22622"]
    Particularly, what did Lilith lie about at the end of Chapter 39?[/quote]
    That a) she wouldn’t give the sword to Belial, and b) that Michael had agreed to release Lucifer from the wager if Lucifer released Lilith.

    [quote]She’d made a bargain with Lucifer, wouldn’t lying about that be reneging on her bargain?[/quote]
    Her bargain with Lucifer (made in Seattle) was only that she’d obtain Hugh’s soul by leading him to his death. She didn’t make a new bargain with Lucifer in Chapter 39 — everything she said (lied about) to get him to release her wouldn’t have an impact on that original bargain. Once he’s released her, that’s it: she’s not bound to him anymore, and he doesn’t have any hold on her.

    [quote]I gathered that she ended up giving Michael’s sword to Belial? And then Michael demands Lucifer close the gates of hell within 24 hours. How can he ask that since he didn’t win the bargain?[/quote]
    Michael did win the wager, since Lilith didn’t kill Hugh (which was the terms Lucifer and Michael had set.) Lilith is not a part of that wager, except peripherally — it depends on her actions, but it’s not her wager to win or lose or release anyone from. (This is also why she could speak of it with other Guardians, when Michael couldn’t.) So, no matter what Lilith said (lied about) the wager between Lucifer and Michael was still in effect. And since Hugh wasn’t killed, Michael won, and the Gates would be closed.

    This is exactly the question that Candy at Smart Bitches sent to me and referenced in her post — and I totally understand the confusion, because there are two bargains dependent on Lilith killing Hugh, and when Lucifer releases her from the first it does seem intuitive the second should be invalidated — but it’s not. And normally Lucifer would never have let her get away with it, because he’s not careless with bargains either — but aside from her lie, the real setup that Lilith created and allowed her to win was the distractions and pressure she provided Lucifer (by having Michael and Belial there) so that he wouldn’t be able to focus on her and realize she was lying.

    I do hope this helps clear it up, and I’m sorry about the frustration it caused,
    Meljean

  28. Jane A.
    Jan 31, 2007 @ 13:14:14

    Thank you! I feel so much better now! How wonderful that you answered me and I don’t have these unresolved questions following me around. hee

    BTW, Jane (or Jayne) asked our impressions of Hugh and Lilith. I did enjoy Lilith, but I -loved- Hugh. What a great hero, he’s going down as one of my absolute all time favs.

  29. The Dragon Page » Review: Demon Angel
    Feb 06, 2007 @ 11:34:03

    [...] Review: Demon Angel Books Posted by Summer Brooks on Tuesday, 6 Feb 2007 Guest Review by Jane Litte, DearAuthor.com Link to original review [...]

  30. Dionne Galace » Blog Archive » Demon Angel by MelJean Brook
    Mar 15, 2007 @ 11:46:10

    [...] I read something and thought, “Beeyatch say ‘whuh’?” I think homegirl JaYne said it best with, “And sometimes there was just too much talking. Talk, talk, talk. Yes, [...]

  31. Dear Author.Com | More Reviews of Demon Angel, January’s BookClub Selection
    Apr 10, 2007 @ 21:11:57

    [...] you’ve picked up the book and want to join in the discussion, take a look at the comments on Jayne’s review. The Author came and answered some questions. If you’ve got more, make a comment and Ms. [...]

  32. Dear Author.Com | My First Sale by Meljean Brook, Geek Girl Makes Good
    May 31, 2007 @ 23:42:05

    [...] I really love a book, you know it. I talk about it incessantly. My blogging partner, Jayne, once said “I can almost see her bouncing up and down in her chair when she posts about it.” Jayne [...]

  33. Jken2000
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 11:24:43

    I love this book. It did take a couple of tries to get into the book and that’s because I’m use to romance books getting right to the good stuff (sexual tension, etc. ) This is now my favorite book. I keep a copy a home, in the car and in my suitcase. After reading Demon Angel, I read Falling for Anthony.

  34. Have you fallen?? : The Good, The Bad and The Unread
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 20:49:10

    [...] Jayne’s review and Jane’s video review. [...]

  35. Chenebe
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 00:38:28

    I came away from reading Demon Angel thinking that Meljean Brook is quintessentially a fantasy author rather than a romance one. Her world-building is far more dense than the average romance-plus-dash-of-fantasy.

    I didn’t find the romance that hot actually, being too cerebrally engaged. These guys talk too much!

    I tried the next full length in the series, Colin and Savi’s story in Demon Moon. That one was waaay hotter … but the one thing that nagged me was how it was drawn out not by any real conflicts but self-imposed games. “Let’s try friendship for a week”, “let’s play houses for a month”. I know that the sexual tension needed to be drawn out but I dislike these kind of self-imposed restrictions rather than a *real* reason keeping the hero and heroine apart.

    I did like Savi and Colin much more than Lilith and Hugh, and my absolutely favourite bits of the book are Savi’s feelings, love and obligation to her Nani. Anyone who is that genuinely dedicated to their grandmother is likable in my eyes!

  36. Jayne
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 06:13:16

    I didn't find the romance that hot actually, being too cerebrally engaged. These guys talk too much!

    LOL, had to laugh at this part since I so totally agree.

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