Fantasy is not a genre that I usually read. Matter of fact, I could probably count on one hand the times that I have read it. Every now and then though I want something different to sink my teeth into and when I saw this book offered as a choice to review, I jumped at the chance.
The first thing I noticed when starting to read is that I felt like I was starting to learn a different vocabulary and since I had never heard of some of the words before, made up my own pronunciations as I went along. Not a big deal since I was only reading for myself and not an audience. In no way is it meant as a detraction just an observation.
The story started drawing me in right away from the first pages. Melaia is a young priestess but you can tell from the first that she is a fighter and doesn't take the easy way with things. She is headstrong and doesn't always think things through but has a good heart, plus the fact that she is only around 16 yrs of age. Melaia is also a 'chantress' a singer of song, soother of sorrows and is called to the King's palace to play for him as he is ill. During her journey she comes across those who will help her to learn more of her past and those she thinks she can trust, prove not to be trustworthy.
By the end of the story, I was hooked and can't wait for the next in the series to come out.
What an interesting book. I am somewhat skeptical of "Christian fiction", but this one took me by surprise and I found myself unwilling to put the book down. If you think "Christian" books are supposed to drop Scripture references on every page and end with a character receiving salvation, you most likely would not consider Breath of Angel to be a "Christian" book. However, it is a fantasy book, and as such, it takes what we consider to be Christianity and weaves an imaginative story with a strong mythological flair.
Central to the story is a young priestess, Melaia, serving in a temple of the Most High. Given that this is a fantasy novel, characters have various skills and abilities not usually seen in reality - Melaia has the gift of discerning when a person is near death, and can see the soul depart the body. She is also bestowed with a gift of music, which is seemingly unimportant, but becomes very key to the plot later on.
Breath of Angel wastes no time in getting the action started - Melaia witnesses a murder in the first few pages of the book, and the victim is an angel - legendary shape-shifting creatures thought to be long gone. Melaia quickly finds herself in the midst of an epic battle between angels and men, and discovers through her travels that the world is much larger and dangerous than she realized. There is quite a bit of mystery surrounding the circumstances of the angel's murder, but by her curiosity and aid of allies, she is thrown even further into the fearsome affairs of supernatural beings. The stairway to heaven is destroyed, and she must walk carefully - those whom she believes to be allies may in fact be traitors, and vice versa - she can trust no one if she values her life. As the plot progresses, Melaia becomes aware of who she truly is and the role she must play in this supernatural war.
Breath of Angel is set in what seems to be a medieval time period, though it's never specified exactly. It reminded me of the Eragon series, if that helps. Not quite as detailed though :)
I'm not sure how else to describe this book without giving a good deal of the plot away. Research the Nephilim, and you'll have an idea of where this book is coming from. I very much enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone who has an imagination. It's the first book in the series, and definitely ends with a cliffhanger, but leaves you looking forward to the next book in the cycle. The book will be released June 21st, so if this sounds like your cup of tea, put it on your wishlist.
Breath of Angel immerses readers in a land of angels and humans, shape shifters and sylvans, where warring brothers have destroyed the only portal to heaven and stranded tortured souls on earth, and only one young woman - a chantress - half angel and half human, can restore it.
I was not sure of what to expect of this book after reading that it had priestress, shape-shifters,etc and not a big fantasy fan but I gave it a read. I was captivated by the character of Melaia from the beginning and soon was very interesting in what would happen in the story. The book was fast paced and there were only a few times that I thought that the story was not believable. But you are soon brought back to reality by Melaia's real earthly issues.
This is the first in The Angeleon Circle and would think the series will provide a nice read for those who love fantasy.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.
Melaia is a chantress at the Temple of the Most High. One night in the courtyard she witnesses the murder of a weary traveler and quickly finds herself in a world she thought only existed in old songs and stories. Angels and immortals locked in battle. The stairway to Heaven must be rebuilt, and Melaia is pushed into a journey where she will discover angels, draks, and herself.
Breath of Angel is the first book in The Angeleon Circle series by Karyn Henley. Labeled as fantasy and marketed as Christian, it meets both categories well, but some may be skeptical at first, as I was. The Christian label is tested with the use of titles such as "priestess" and "chantress" and the treatment of angels. It takes awhile to start seeing some mild Christian metaphors, but they are there. This is why the category of Fantasy is so important. It allows liberty to be taken in certain areas to move the story forward, but nothing that would be deemed un-Christian. Even with the use of characters who are "chantresses" there is no use of "magic" in any way that would turn someone off, as one might expect.
The story starts quick and moves along at a steady pace. Some of the characters, however, fell a little flat for me. Though not so much that it was a disappointment or a distraction. Overall, this is a good read, and it kept me interested to the end.
The worst thing about Karyn Henley's upcoming Waterbrook Press release, "Breath of Angel," is that it's only the first book in the Angeleon Circle series, which means you'll be left hungry for more when you're finished.
Melaia, a chantress and high priestess-to-be, finds herself yanked into the world of myths and stories she has only sung about before. Not only are angels, and their malevolent counterparts, real, Melaia discovers she has a part to play in the tales she has heretofore considered the fanciful world of entertainment. With the knowledge of her new, weighty responsibility, Melaia has to figure out who she can and can't trust.
Her attraction to Trevin, who first seems to be an ally, and then an enemy, complicates matters as Melaia and the angels who come alongside to help her, seek to restore the "stairway to heaven" that will allow the stranded angels, and possibly the spirits of the dead, to escape the earthly realm in which they have been trapped. But as she learns more about the histories she had thought to be nothing more than stories and legends, Melaia realizes restoring the stairway may require more of her than she is willing to give.
If you're looking for a line upon line scriptural framework in your reading, you might struggle with this story. But the reader who is willing to look for the hidden analogies, and can relate to the heroine's struggles between her earthly relationships and her supernatural destiny, this is a tale you'll enjoy. Well-written, with a touch of romance and plenty of action and unexpected plot twists, Henley's tale is a pleasurable read.
Readers who enjoyed Ted Dekker's Circle series, "Red," "Green," "White," and "Black," will certainly enjoy the mythology and mystery of Henley's story.
"Breath of Angel" goes on sale June 21, 2011. You'll want to put it on your TBR list.
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.