Betrayals: A Strange Angels Novel by Lili St Crow

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Betrayals: A Strange Angels Novel by Lili St Crow

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Yet another teen vampire series, here with less of the romance, more of the mythology used to create intrigue for our heroine, as she trains up for further entries, in an academy for non-humans.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849161282

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To start, I have to cover the ground of the mythology of this series. Humans, vampires and werewolves all live in this world, and both species of 'the other' have people halfway turned. Vampires and werewolves aren't exactly the sort to mix with each other - one liking to spill blood, the others going into feeding frenzies every time they smell it. In a previous book, our heroine Dru, has realised her best friend can become semi-wolf in a shape-changing way, and she's tending to the vampire side of things. She's also discovered a very strong threat against her life.

This is a threat that is avoided temporarily, as her mentor Christophe gets her hidden away in a rural academy, the Schola, where hopefully her special status in the great swing of things can be hidden, and she can be trained with everything she needs to know and all the ways in which she might be called on to fight. It's intended to be a secure place of sanctuary, but the bars keeping nasties out might just also be keeping nasties within...

The huge market for teenage supernatural reads at the moment means we are hardly crying out for another series featuring a bewildered but feisty young lady combatting or smooching with fantasy species. But Lilith St Crow, with her tweaked name heralding her entry in the younger audience, certainly has proven herself a mistress of urban fantasy before now. And her strengths are to the fore here - a storyline building in ways she wishes, and not by any means a by-the-numbers approach through cliff-hangers to a conclusive battle (or smooch).

What this means for those who are fresh from the first book in the series, Strange Angels, is more slow-building intrigue, as Dru faces up to her current situation - a college full of males she doesn't want anything to do with, classes she dismisses, and too many surprise visits from the owl that is the ghostly familiar of her gran, and Christophe.

What this means for those who are new to the cycle, is an awkward beginning as we're slowly drip-fed the pertinent relationships and species of all the characters, and their interactions, and definitely the duh-duh-DUUHH reveal midway will mean a lot more to those starting at the beginning. The mythology is to the fore here as Dru's finding of her place in things is wrought in nicely dense detail, although I did feel there could have been more punch to it, and hence to my opening paragraph - but St Crow is not one to force anything down our throats.

What this means for those who are new to the genre entire, I'm not sure. Certainly they will notice the too-common references from the first-person narrator to her hair, and will probably be befuddled by the whole thing - and as to why werewolf is spelled "werwulf". They will certainly appreciate the strong lines here, describing things ranging from the trees and climate the characters are immersed in, to the strong look inside the narrator's mind and problems. I - as they might do - expected the parallels between her discoveries and changing bodies and puberty to be stronger - again, showing the author's subtleties.

Two final things to note - well done on the UK edition at least for not allowing this to look like another Stephenie Meyer rip-off; and, more importantly, the purchaser might wish to be aware there is some strong language featured.

There is also a lot that is strong, too - the future facing Dru and her friends at the end among them. I can't tell whether the next book - due for the UK in June 2010 - will be the end of a trilogy, or not. I am sure it will be eagerly awaited.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

As I suggest, there are hosts of such series around. The one that is probably my favourite began with Glass Houses: The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine.

Lili St Crow's Strange Angels Novels in Chronological Order

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