by Meredith Ann Pierce
While Aeriel and her mistress, Eoduin, are picking flowers for a wedding high atop a mountain peak, Eoduin is captured by a vampyre — a pale, gorgeous, black-winged creature. When Aeriel returns without Eoduin, Eoduin’s mother blames Aeriel for her daughter’s demise and Aeriel is set to be sold at the next slave market. Terrified of where she might end up and angry that no one is seeking vengeance against the vampyre, Aeriel sets out to kill the creature that stole Eoduin, or die trying. Aeriel waits for the vampyre atop the same mountain where Eoduin was last seen. When he comes for her, she is mesmerized by his beauty and unable to kill him. The vampyre takes Aeriel as his slave to weave garments for his 13 wives. Each year the vampyre takes a wife, drinks her blood, and captures her soul. Eoduin was his most recent bride. What is left of the women are undead wraiths who have little to no memory of who they were before the vampyre captured them and spend their days moaning and shouting their emotional and physical pain. Despite the fact that Aeriel can sense some good still left in the vampyre, she knows that she must destroy him for the sake of the wraiths, herself, and the rest of the world, because after the vampyre takes his 14th and final wife, he will join his six vampyre brothers and they will become an unstoppable force controlled by an evil witch bent on taking over the world. With the help of a duarough, a magical cave creature, Aeriel sets off on a quest to find what she needs to defeat the vampyre. She failed once to kill the vampyre, will she now have to courage to destroy the beautiful, evil, yet pitiful creature?
Reaction: The Darkangel read like a fairy-tale with an unfinished ending and had elements found in most fantasy/fairy-tale books — an emotionally strong heroine who matures into a beauty, a quest, saving people from evil and saving the evil beast from himself, etc. I really enjoyed the take on vampyres. Now-a-days vampires tend to be able to chose whether they are evil are good. For example, in the Twilight series Edward and his cohorts have chosen to live with humans and not feed from them but there are obviously other vampires that have not chosen this path, i.e. the ones that are always trying to kill Bella. This is the same in my fav vamp series, The Vampire Academy. In these novels there are two kinds of vampires — the Moroi take only what they need from willing human volunteers while the Strigoi drain humans and become evil beings. In Darkangel, the only thing could possibly make the vampyre who stole Aeriel good is the fact that he is not yet a full-fledged vampyre and he won’t be until he takes all 14 wives and drinks their souls. Currently he still has some of his own soul, though his heart is leadened and he has no blood. Once a vampyre reaches what I guess would be considered an adult, he would be a purely evil, unsavable creature. Also, this is the only vamp book I’ve read where the vampire has wings. Maybe there are other out there but I have not seen them. I really liked his black wings; it certainly emphasized the title, that he’s a dark angel. The Darkangel is definitely worth a read for all vamp and fairy-tale fans.
Inspiration: I found Pierce’s inspiration for the novel fascinating — this info was found on the back flap of my edition (the old edition) which has hopefully made all the reprints. According to the blurb, Pierce read about a dream of one of Carl Jung’s patients in his autobiography. This dream was about a society on the moon where women and children were abducted by a cruel yet handsome vampyre. Kinda weird, huh? She took a story from a psychology patient’s dreams. Now I kinda want to read Jung’s autobiography: Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
Note: Teen, adult, what? This book seems ambiguous as to the true audience. At my local library it was shelved in the adult section but I noticed in the catalog it had a juvenile subject heading. Amazon classifies it as young adult. I guess it doesn’t really matter because I think both adults and teens would enjoy it but you may have to ask where exactly it will be located at your local library or bookstore because it seems like it could be anywhere!
What’s Next: The Darkangel is only the first in a trilogy. The second two are A Gathering of Gargoyles and The Pearl of the Soul of the World. I am going to check both of these out despite rumors of a not-so-fairy-tale ending to the series.
Read-a-like: This book was originally published in 1982 and it reminded me of another early 80s pub date book I read this year (and is now one of my favorites), The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. The plots are different but they have similar elements. They both have a strong heroine who doesn’t know her strength, a quest of sorts, and different yet similar to reality worlds in which the stories take place. I don’t know if I feel they are similar because they were both written during the same time period or if its because they are both fantasy novels and both contain common elements found in fantasies or because I read original editions of both and they had the same type face. Similar or not for you, read them both because they’re both good :).
Thanks: I just wanted to thank you to 3 Evil Cousins for bringing this book to my attention. I never would have found it otherwise.