Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Where did you get the book: Netgalley

What publisher: Harper Teen

Release date: Out now


Blurb taken from Goodreads:

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers – monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell – she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.  

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie’s powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her – an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie’s soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian’s most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives – including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Angelfire is one of the latest YA books that features angels and demons, and a mysterious boy and a heroine that are thrust into this strange and dangerous world. Unlike most books, which focuses mainly on a core romance, Angelfire combines action and a strong mythos that really is Buffyesque and I had a great time with reading this book.

Ellie Monroe is haunted with vivid and terrifying dreams of demonic creatures attacking her which soon begins to affect her schoolwork and her home life. Her home life is is no better with her parent’s constant fighting and the increasing emotional detachment of her father. But her life changes when she encounters a strange boy called Will who soon tells her they have known each other for centuries and that he is her guardian and that she has a power and the knowledge to fight against demons. Of course she finds this totally preposterous, but soon realises that she is a warrior of mysterious origins who reincarnates again and again throughout the centuries with the same body and memories and a gift of Angelfire that only harms reapers (demons).

However the gap of time since her last death and resurrection is the longest yet, and Ellie can only recall snatches here and there. With the help of Will she must regain her lost memories because they hold knowledge on how to fight the demons threatening an Armageddon on Earth.

Angelfire is a fun and an engaging read, and was refreshing to read because it focused more on the action with a well thought out mythology and a strong heroine. There was a lot similarities with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with a heroine who has to balance high-school, a social life and fighting demons. There is also a core romance with a mysterious boy, but fortunately he doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight but sports some nifty tatts instead, and provides support and guidance with fighting against reapers who are demons who are determined to bring on the Armageddon.

Elle’s rediscovery of her past and skills were some of my favourite scenes from the book. I especially liked the flashbacks which featured different historical periods and settings and reflected a much darker and almost inhuman Ellie which compared to her current incarnation of a more vulnerable and ordinary scared girl, and who is definitely more human confronted with this new knowledge which was an interesting juxtaposition. I suspect that this will be explored further in future books about Ellie’s evolution which I will definitely look out for.

I think Moulton’s grasp of Reapers and Archangels was well thought out and imagined. However, I wished we got more of their backstory instead of the brief glimpses. I also did find at times that Ellie’s torn feelings of trying to maintain a normal teen life was a bit frustrating, not because she has to, but she seems to dismiss and ignore the danger she was in. She definitely seem to verge on too stupid to live moments once or twice.

I also found that her father’s anger and growing outbursts throughout the book hints at something more but I wished this was explained more because it was too vague and the subplot was ignored later in the second half of the book, when Ellie and Will go off on a trip to stop the reapers gaining advantage.

The romance, however was a highlight of the book. It never overpowers the book and like Ellie’s regaining her knowledge and memories of her past, the love story compliments the action and adds to the emotional growth. I do have to say the twist at the end of the book especially the repercussion it has to Will and Ellie’s future relationship was great! And I did not expect to see that.

Angelfire is a great start to a series. It has a lot of potential that focuses a lot more on adventure and action instead of a angsty romance, although it does provide a great love story. I know there is a slew of books right now that feature angels and demons but if you fancy something that is more action packed with a capable and likable heroine then Angelfire is definitely one I would recommend.

I give Angelfire a C+

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