Angelica: SFF with a strong romantic streak

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Sharon Shinn Samaria 4. AngelicaAngelica by Sharon Shinn

The settlers of Samaria were brought there from a distant world, cupped in the hands of their God. Jovah settled them on this harsh land where they could find a new start far away the technology that had torn their old war apart, and then blessed them with angels — winged messengers to intercede with Jovah on the mortals’ behalf. Now, a few hundred years after settlement, the Archangel Gaaron has three problems.

First, he has to convince the Edori woman Susannah to be his bride and the titular Angelica, even though she loves another. Second, mysterious black-clad strangers have been seen appearing and disappearing at random, leaving settlers and settlements alike burned to oblivion in their passing. And third, his recalcitrant sister Miriam has fallen in love with one of the invaders, and will do anything to protect him.

This fourth book in the Samaria series is actually a prequel to the original trilogy. While Angelica doesn’t cover a lot of new ground, Sharon Shinn again creates engaging characters that actually grow and mature as the story progresses. While none of them are perfect, their flaws are what make them charming. While each of the Samaria books has a strong romantic storyline, this was probably my favorite one so far. Gaaron is a good (in the truest sense of the word) person who has grew up in an abusive family, and watching him try to overcome his past and to truly embrace good in the world is an immersive experience.

Angel (5 Book Series) Kindle Edition by Sharon ShinnI also thoroughly enjoyed the in-depth exposure to Edori culture in Angelica. Though Edori have always played an important role in the Samaria books, a lot of the story takes place with the nomadic people, and Shinn shows the nobility of these people without romanticizing the difficulty that their lifestyle poses.

Like beautiful gemstones in a slightly tarnished setting, the characters and prose shine, but seem slightly out of place in a flawed story. While there was a level of tension to figuring out how the antagonists would be stopped, there was no doubt that they would be (which is always a problem with prequels). And anyone who has read the original trilogy is pretty sure what that would involve. I was also less than satisfied with Susannah’s dreams being the key to resolving the entire dilemma. Additionally, the storyline between Miriam and her dangerous stranger resolved itself a little too easily.

However, these flaws are mostly evident in the last few chapters — until then Angelica is beautifully written and emotionally compelling fiction. Like the other books in the Samaria series, I highly recommend Angelica for anyone who likes fantasy/science fiction blends with a strong romantic streak.


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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