Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review of Hells Angel By Kim Faulks Book One in the No Angel Series

Coming in at only 129 pages, it would be fair to say that Hells Angel is more of a novella, than it is a novel.  The story is essentially about the coming together of Kellah Slater and Detective Hunter, which makes more of a dark romance than a straight up urban fantasy.  Kellah is a demon who has been cast out of hell and as punishment is forced to exist on earth.  Kellah sees hell as home and so little things like the fact that it is always cold on earth in comparison to hell irks her continually. Kellah for the large part only sees the evil in humanity, the constant desire to consume and rob each other blind.  She makes her living as a jewel thief and lives in what is essentially a flop house.  

Detective Hunter is a very troubled man.  He was on the job when his partner was suddenly killed right in front of him.  Shortly there after, when he enters an alleyway to help what he perceives to be a woman in need, he loses his wallet.  Using his identification, someone goes to his home and kills his wife and daughter in cold blood.  When he confronts the person in his home, despite his best efforts, he barely walks away with his life because the person he is battling is immortal.

Much of this story involves Hunter attempting to find a way to arrest Kellah for various crimes.  Each time they are anywhere near each other; however, they both feel a strong sexual attraction.  Kellah is disgusted by this because it does not fall under the guidelines of appropriate demon behaviour.  For his part, Hunter is equally disgusted.  In the background there is a serial killer, murdering women and Hunter has become the prime suspect.  Someone on the police force is determined to make sure that he is put out of commission.  In the end the question becomes can Kellah look past her demon nature to admit her love and can Hunter figure out what has been a long misunderstanding to admit his love.

One of the things that I really liked about this story is that Kellah does not spend anytime mourning the fact that she is a demon and wishing to be good or human.  This is something that has become far to common in urban fantasy and it was a relief to see this trope avoided. She kills because she wants to and because she can.  When she does have sex it is always on her own terms and she does not take kindly to those who attempt to force themselves on her. This is the kind of strong protagonist that I like. I do think it is worth pointing out however, the fact that Kellah makes an exception in her views on living beings when it comes to animals, makes zero sense to me, though it was explained as the result of a dog being nice to her in the last few seconds of its life. It felt like Faulks attempt to insert some faux complexity to this character.

As for the budding relationship between Hunter and Kellah, I did not buy it for one second.  It read like star crossed lovers and only existed because of the magical element in the story.  On what grounds do they have to declare love for each other than the fact that they are itching to have sex with each other?  Lust is not the same thing as love. The ending of the book clearly sets up the second book in the series to at least begin with Hunter searching for Kellah. If you are into dark romance, this may well be your thing.

Other than Kellah, the rest of the women in this story were largely victims of some sort, making Kellah the only strong one. It was nice however to see police corruption addressed, particularly when it comes to sex workers.  Hells Angel is also an all straight world. There is only one character of colour and he of course is a criminal, who encourages rape and is determined to have Kellah bend to his will. Hells Angel, could have done with a lot more inclusion considering that it was set in an urban area.

Hells Angel is absolutely forgettable and though it managed to avoid a few of the common tropes, it wasn't challenging and at times was downright boring.   Hells Angel fails to be captivating in any way; it's not offensive, but neither is watching paint dry.  Your library card won't scream in protest should you decide to borrow it, but your wallet might clamp shut in revolt if you try to purchase this novel. If nothing else it might be handy to have around should you happen to be suffering from a bout of insomnia.

Editors Note: A copy of this book was provided by the author for review.