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Book Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

# Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
# Reading level: Young Adult
# Paperback: 304 pages
# Publisher: Razorbill
# Publication Date: May 14, 2009
# ISBN-10: 1595142517
# ISBN-13: 978-1595142511
# Read the Prologue [PDF]
# Author Website: Lilith Saintcrow

Lilith Saintcrow makes the move to young adult fiction with Strange Angels. Best known for her Jill Kismet series of adult-targeted paranormal fantasy, Saintcrow (going by the more approachable pen name of Lili St. Crow) stays within her skill set with this young adult novel.

The story is about Dru Anderson, sixteen-year-old daughter of a hunter, a man who seeks out and finds the things that go bump in the night. After Dru’s mother died, Dru was raised by her father and grandmother, in learning survival skills alongside those of homemaking. With the death of her grandmother, Dru now works full-time with her father. As the story opens, Dru and dad are in a small town in the Midwest during winter. Dru begins the story full or typical teen angst over the constant moving from school to school. But a young Goth boy named Graves attempts to befriend quiet and withdrawn Dru, and she finds herself liking this boy. But things go awry when Dru’s father fails to return home after a solo hunt. And then there is Christophe the strange boy that Dru can’t quite bring herself to trust, but who seems determined to look out for her.

Though a good paranormal fantasy with small elements of romance thrown in, the novel is primarily a preparation for forthcoming novels. In it, we encounter Dru, learn about her problems, and watch Dru and Graves draw closer to one another, especially as they are increasingly thrust into a world of intrigue and danger they don’t quite understand.

The book follows the circumscribed formula of teens being self-sufficient without the need for parental authority that rings so powerfully with the target audience. Middle-Grade and teen readers are going to love Dru and Graves, two kids on the edge of society who are so wholly capable. Fortunately, St. Crow does not make them completely sufficient, which is why young Christophe enters the equation. He is a juxtaposition when it comes to the formula, but to say entirely why would give away too much. Too, though Dru and Graves are strong, they still act like teenagers, that is to say, rather impulsively and without enough forethought. This gets them into a couple of scrapes, though sometimes they manage to save themselves and other times are saved.

Parents who dislike their children to read swearing or cursing should steer clear of this book. St. Crow allows her story to be gritty and dark, and in so doing allows the use of swearing by the character. This does not change to quality of the book, only deepened it tenor of darkness. Still, some readers and/or parents may find it offensive, as it is prevalent throughout the book, though not gratuitous.

As a teen novel, the story works. It is light fair, an easy read with interesting characters with simplified motivations. It is good escapism with lots of action and a little romance, though nothing overtly sexual, except for a tendency of Dru’s to appreciate a man’s body in not uncertain terms. But it is not a romance. Strange Angels is an action-adventure tale.

Its primary defect is that is simple a prologue to future novels. The writing is good, the action thrilling, and the pacing superb. The characters are entertaining and have more than just surface level motivations, and the romance is cute and very teenagery. Too bad that while there is a culminating event, is unsatisfying since it is simply a pause until the next book. Teens are not likely to be bothered by this however, and if you don’t mind a good bit of cussing and a little bit of romance, this is a fun and safe novel for upper middle and high school readers.


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