Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Series: Angelfire, #1
Published: February 15th 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover, 453 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
First there are nightmares.Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.Then come the memories.When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.Now she must hunt.Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.
Take all the YA paranormal tropes you can think of, mix in four or five archetypal characters and a few utterly unimportant ones, put them all in one place, shake (but don’t stir!), add two olives (the olives are obviously for me), and what you’ll end up with is Angelfire. Or Wicked Lovely, or Hush Hush, or you know… something to that effect.
To even suggest that Moulton came up with something new in her debut would be ridiculous, but to claim that I didn’t enjoy it to a certain extent regardless would be also be a blatant lie, so I won’t bother. Angelfire follows the usual Young Adult paranormal storyline to the letter, without deviations of any kind, but sometimes, that comforting and familiar pattern is exactly what my brain needs.
A girl finds out that she’s special and her powers awaken on her birthday. She is told about her true nature by a mysterious, gorgeous boy who, for some inexplicable reason seems utterly devoted to her. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t chase the boy, or the truth he brings with him, away. She soon develops feelings for the boy and he clearly has feelings for her, but he is determined not to touch her, out of sheer nobility, of course. They fight together, they’re willing to die for each other, but apparently kissing is over the line.
And yet, what troubled me about Angelfire wasn’t the familiar storyline, it was the main character, Ellie. While I understand that 17-year-old girls aren’t known for their altruism, she struck me as particularly self-centered as selfish, especially in her relationship with her Guardian, Will. She was always asking more of him, small but potentially painful things, without once stopping to consider how they might affect him.
For his part, Will took the mysterious, brooding, yet self-sacrificing hero to a whole new level. His never-ending lines about protecting Ellie at all costs, doing whatever she tells him to, going wherever she decides quickly turned from protective and romantic to pathetic and a bit creepy.
It would be easy to point out all the negatives and stop there, but Angelfire isn’t without its advantages. Moulton is, technically speaking, a pretty decent writer and her sense of pacing is excellent. Even though I guessed two big mysteries pretty early on, the fact remains that she knows how to build up tension.
While this type of books isn’t for me, at least not anymore, Angelfire is a pretty good choice for readers who occasionally crave a new version of the same paranormal YA story. I must have read one too many myself, but I know plenty of people who still enjoy them, and I envy them for it just a little bit.