Top positive review
5.0 out of 5 starsFresh, Young and Frankly Weird
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 26, 2017
"They let you drive now?" he said in a wondering tone of voice calibrated to get under her skin. "I leave for a couple of years and miss kitty's first steps. Did anyone take photos for the baby album I sent you?"
"It's full of pretty pictures." Holly bared her teeth at him in a caricature of a smile. "Honor is a little concerned about how I keep drawing you with your head cut off," she said in a deliberately thoughtful tone, "but an artist must follow her instincts."
FINAL DECISION: Awesome, I loved this book in a way I never expected. Feeling fresh and young and yes, even a little weird, this book's tone matched the strange, unique, and fun that make up Holly and Venom.
THE STORY: Four years ago, Holly Chang's world was fundamentally altered when she and her friends were kidnapped by a blood mad archangel. Her friends were all murdered; Holly survived but ended up changed when the archangel put "something" of himself into Holly. She gained some qualities of vampires but she is neither fully vampire nor human. In the years since her abduction, Holly has been under the observation by various members of Raphael's Seven. Now the one who irks Holly the most, Venom, has returned to annoy her some more. Venom is a unique vampire who also possesses viper qualities and eyes. While Venom and Holly have much in common as to their abilities, they seem to rub one another the wrong way -- until someone puts a bounty on Holly to kidnap her and the "otherness" inside her seems to be asserting itself. Venom and Holly must work together to discover what actually happened to Holly four years ago.
OPINION: The problem with loving a series is that sometimes a new book doesn't live up to the hype and excitement. Having just completed a re-read of the Guild Hunter series, I had a worry in my stomach that I was too excited about Venom and Holly's story (which has its origins in the very first book). I'm so happy to report that this book exceeded all of my excited anticipation. It was so different in its voice and tone and the characters lived up to the strange and mysterious origins. Their funky, weird and quirky natures bored into my heart (ha, ha) and they are definitely one of my favorite couples in the series.
Can I admit something? I often tend to take glances at the end of books as I get distracted during the story. (It's a way of urging myself forward). This book I read cover to cover without even being tempted to read the ending. If you have similar tendencies or like to read spoilers, I urge you to let this book flow out in front of you instead. The story and relationship builds in such a wonderful fashion that I think that knowing the secrets in the ending will diminish the first-time reader experience.
Story feels young and fresh in a manner that I didn't expect. One of my all time favorite books is FIRE AND ICE by Anne Stuart. This book has a similar feel in the characters and pacing (although there is really little similarity). The characters are younger than others in the series.
Although Venom is over 350 years old, he is the youngest of the Seven and the one character who has been the most mysterious in the series. This book peels back his layers and gives us his backstory. He's got a secret (not a deep dark one but an interesting one) that makes him adorable and perfect for Holly. Sexy and raw in a way that no one else in the Seven is, he has a different personality than I expected once his "gameface" is off.
Holly (who for a time called herself Sorrow) is quirky and funny and incredibly strong. We haven't seen her progression for a while, and it was especially satisfying to see how she has grown and struggled and managed to reinvent herself after the horror of her "Making". (I'll also confess to having a total love for Dmitri and Honor and just adored seeing them with Holly). Holly makes this book for me. Her needling of Venom as the two find the rhythm of a relationship between them. Her strength in facing the reality of what her "making" might actually mean. And her determination to keep true to herself and her humanity put me on her side from the start. Of all the characters in this series, she was the only one from the present day who was 100 percent human and normal until she was forcibly dragged into the immortal world.
The funniest part for me is that I expected the quips and arguments and the humor, but I didn't expect how heartwarming I would find their relationship. The observation that these two will grow together hit me with so many warm fuzzies. Their story is one of acceptance and appreciation and love for a person "because" of who they are rather than "despite".
The story is more focused on Holly and Venom than in normal in this series (in many ways this book and ARCHANGEL'S HEART are part of the same story) and as a result, I was simply gutted as the book reached its conclusion as no part of this series has since the very first book. The romance between these two is uniquely their own. The two seem to find joy in annoying one another, testing one another. There is a similarity to the relationship between Ash and Janvier, but this is no repeat of that romance. Venom and Holly have an acidic sweetness that matches their natures.
WORTH MENTIONING: This book overlaps with the events in ARCHANGEL'S HEART.
CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL'S VIPER is the tenth book in the Guild Hunter series.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.