I do not usually care for angelic warfare novels OR teen romance, but the author won me over to this series with her excellent prose, great characters, and a surprisingly powerful story of growing into a more mature faith. The first book I liked in spite of myself. The second inspired both hope and appreciation, and so I was chomping at the bit by the third. It not only proved a worthy and enjoyable sequel, but also lifted the series as a whole to make it one I would recommend to all readers.
In this concluding novel of the Angel Eyes trilogy, teenage protagonist Brielle is reeling from the battles of the previous books. She's stronger now, with a heightened sense of faith and purpose, but the stakes are raised as her boyfriend Jake is held hostage by the Prince of Darkness himself. The cliffhanger from last time implied that Jake may face a most perilous temptation, one that could shatter everything they hold dear. But deception is always at play with demons, and Brielle soon learns that it's her own weaknesses that could destroy them both.
By all rights the reversal of the cliffhanger (one built to over the course of two books) should feel like a cheat. But author Shannon Dittemore really is that good: she completely changed my preconceptions as a reader, even down to my anticipation of this novel's plot. I'd forgotten, as the characters did, that deceit is the ultimate weapon of the enemy, and this novel's devil is no cartoonish caricature. He's sly and subtle, ferocious and fearful, the most metaphorically True depiction of Satan's power I have experienced in a work of fiction (perhaps supplanted only by Lewis's "Screwtape Letters").
Brielle's voice continues to be the strongest weapon Dittemore employs in selling the plot's twists and turns. All the characters are at the zenith here, even secondary ones that in lesser hands would crowd a full tale. Instead, everyone's stories unlock meaty theological realities, the bedrock that grounds this supernatural journey. The story shows the roots of temptation forming in our lives from the inside out, reminding us that sin is a personal responsibility we must accept if we are to truly repent.
Perhaps the ultimate triumph of this novel is that it doesn't overreach. The characters, while growing in maturity, are still teenagers with real life problems. Rather than treat these issues as banal distractions from the deeper fight against evil, Dittemore guides teens to realize that these are the stuff of which such battles are made. Satan is not meant to be defeated by us; instead, we're to let God win that war in His own time, while we are used by Him to serve others.
Nowhere is this clarity in perspective greater than the relationship between Brielle and Jake. What romance, supernatural or not, allows the characters to face the idea of not being together, even to accept such a separation if it means bowing to God's will? Furthermore, what book would dare actually hold the characters to such a proposition even after the main climax is over, not dangling marriage as a prize to be won but a commitment to be pondered and not entered into lightly? These two individuals grew as people first, as a couple second.
There are a very few bumps in this well-hewn road, especially with one secondary's tragic backstory that at times felt tacked on. But such a critique is minor compared to the treasure these books ultimately offer readers. I highly recommend the entire series for any and all who wish to be encouraged, convicted, and inspired.
Brielle is gifted with sight into the Celestial, and at times, it is be a burden she cannot bear. There is one halo, however, that offers her a reprieve from what she sees, despite that she can now see without the halo that first offered her a glimpse into that other world. An evil that no Terrestrial eyes can see threaten her little town of Stratus, Oregon, and every mortal's soul is at stake. Brielle cannot sleep at night for the nightmares that haunt her, and the Terrestrial veil is ripping apart with every day that passes.
A trap puts Brielle face to face with her biggest challenge yet - the Prince of Darkness himself. Stuck in a desert with the creature she now believes is real, she is tempted almost beyond what she can bear. The Prince promises relief from the nightmares that plague her, and he promises a future with Jake. All she has to do is accept the halo and deny The One who gave her life. Will Brielle trade her soul for the chance to be normal again? Or is there more than just her life at stake in this deal?
As always, Dittemore has delivered a spectacular novel that stays with you after you've finished the book. Despite being a work of fiction, the Bible tells us clearly that, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12. The author has captured the essence of this scripture with very fine writing - something all young people will love reading and exploring. Too often we focus on that which we can see, instead of the secret, hidden things of the soul.
This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.
The final installment of Shannon Dittemore's "Angel Eyes" trilogy is aptly titled "Dark Halo." It is the darkest of the three novels, with the Prince of Darkness himself making appearances with lies and bargains. At times, the plot is as chilling as the icy blue eyes on the cover. Dittmore packs spiritual lessons into her story, but her use of action and imagery keeps the book from ever feeling preachy. Tension is at an all-time high in "Dark Halo" as the angelic army battles the demonic army above Stratus. There are some much needed lulls in the action as mysteries from the previous novels are solved, with some surprising realizations.
"Dark Halo" chilled me more than "Angel Eyes" and "Broken Wings." It is a culmination of the forces of darkness and light, with fear and temptation showing even more strength. While darkness is a strong opponent, light and love prove even stronger. Brielle's struggle with her celestial vision reaches a pinnacle in the final novel. While it allows her to see the beauty of faith and worship, it also reveals to her the disturbing images of suffering. As is often the case in real-life, the bad often overshadows the good - in our minds and in the media. Dittemore directly connects the common emotions of fear and temptation to evil. It is a theme that weaves throughout the trilogy, even more tangibly in "Dark Halo." The demons that are present throughout the series are formidable and overtly evil. But the Prince of Darkness hides his evil behind beauty. Both he and his promises are alluring and disguised to trick the mind. Dittemore saves the earthly manifestation of the Prince of Darkness until the final novel, when Brielle's emotionally and spiritually exhausted. Although Brielle has seen the beauty of angels and the strength of faith, she finds her defenses weakened to temptations that will destroy her life. The Dark Halo is a weighty reminder of Brielle's encounter with the devil and her struggle to resist his promises.
Shannon Dittemore compels readers to take the seemingly supernatural events of her "Angel Eyes" novels and compare them to reality. "Dark Halo" concludes the series with a message of promise and the impetus to fight darkness and conquer the barriers that try to hide true beauty.
I received a complimentary e-copy of this novel from Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I absolutely loved this book. Not only does Shannon Dittemore's prose read like poetry, her story bursts with creativity and is rich with meaning. Reading this book has forever changed the way I think of fear.
Dittemore writes with unflinching honesty, dropping her characters into all kinds of horrible circumstances that require courage and faith. Brielle and Jake feel like living, breathing people, but Brielle's best friend, Kaylee, really leaps off the pages. Her friendship to Brielle was one of my favorite facets of Dark Halo.
A powerful and captivating conclusion to a great series!
Woo hoo for the happy ending! Unless it's a book like The Hunger Games no book series should ever end sadly. Ever. And even though Dark Halo starts off with a sad and hopeless start I am so glad it ended happy. :)
Pros: The characters were well written and well developed. The plot was an incredible affair that led to tons of nail-biting and chair (or bed) gripping scenes. The writing style was easy to understand because there weren't too many big words in there like triskaidekaphobia, instead Ms. Dittemore kept it simple which is a great way to write.
Cons: The book throws you right into the middle of the story so definitely read the first two books in the series before you pick up Dark Halo.
Conclusion: Amazing cover. I am just blown away by the book cover. Dark Halo is a great book for any reader that enjoys books with a paranormal twist. :D
*this book was provided by Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review*