Rating: Highly Recommended
Release Date: September 2015
At this point in my life, I’d read just about anything from Nalini Singh. Archangel’s Enigma, the eighth full book in her Guild Hunter series, simply solidifies that desire.
This book is just a good book.
For seven books we’ve seen the evolution of these different characters. We’ve watched Elena and Raphael battle their figurative demons as well as go head to head against the intensely overpowered archangel Lijuan. At this point, these characters are pretty well set up and you’re strapped in for the ride because you need to know what happens next. After Archangel’s Shadows, the book that gave us Ashwini and Janvier’s intense and emotional story, we were all like “how is she going to top this?”
And then she gives us a book about Naasir.
Naasir is hands down one of my favorite characters in the series (probably within the top five after Elena, Illium, Keir, and Ashwini). I love him. I don’t usually feel this way when reading books that aren’t graphic novels but I swear I was just sitting there reading Archangel’s Enigma with this goofy smile on my face. He’s the kind of character that you think of as your “baby” because of how much you love him.
To get an entire book about him was like having my birthday come early.
Archangel’s Enigma is the kind of book that you have to read for yourself (after catching up with the series, of course) so I’m not going into too much detail about spoilers since the book is a super recent release, but here are some highlights:
Naasir is never made to change who he is to appeal to Andromeda. She doesn’t want him to be anything or anyone else other than Naasir. He’s not pushy about anything about the fact that he feels that she’s his mate and even then it’s part of his character. What Naasir is (on top of being a vampire) makes up the titular enigma and finally, after several books where the question has been asked, we get an answer to what Naasir is and believe me, it explains everything.
This book is so good at the sexual tension. This is something Nalini Singh is usually really good at but in this book she takes it to the next level. Andromeda has undertaken a vow of celibacy due to her backstory and heritage and we see her struggle with it because she wants Naasir so much, but in a nice change, Naasir is the one kind of putting the brakes on things. That’s just fantastic.
A major highlight for me was how we got more of a look inside Lijuan’s head that weirdly enough gave me a bit of hope for her character. I don’t think she’s going to be redeemed at any point before she’s killed (if she’s killed) but we got a glimpse of what makes her tick and what she was like when she was younger that I think the series really needed. She’s still messed up as heck but it’s always nice when you can understand your bad guys!
I also like that Nalini Singh writes good characters that aren’t necessarily good people. They kill. They torture. They do what has to be done but they have a code of honor (either single or shared) that they live by. It’s just fantastic because in many urban fantasy series, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad. Sure, some of her characters can be ambiguous but it’s more of a “well this bad guy might not be so awful maybe…” kind of thing. That’s it.
Also most of her characters are characters of color (or coded as characters of color). That’s just amazing. She’s one of the few popular UF authors where I know without a doubt that I’d exist in her universe.
My only quibble with the book is the way that we definitely get gendered behavior and stuff. Sure, the book doesn’t rely on established gender roles and there are characters who are part of the LGBTQIA umbrella of awesome, but at the same time there’s a reliance on using “masculine” and “feminine” coupled with descriptions of features or behavior that can pull you out of the reading because it’s just a little weird. But that’s honestly the only issue I’ve had with this book and with this series as a whole.
If you like vampires, angels, sexual and romantic tension, and lush worldbuilding in a story that travels across the world, then Archangel’s Enigma is the book for you. Just make sure to pick the rest of the series up as well!