Under her “adult” name (Lilith Saintcrow), Lili St. Crow has written two adult series involving paranormal heroines (Dante Valentine and Jill Kismet). But when the author turns her sights on the YA market, she brings the same kind of fist-in-your face action and briskly moving plot with constant life or death stakes.
I really like the heroine in this series. Dru Anderson is a girl I could have known and liked back in high school. She knows the real score and is tough but vulnerable. A girl who’s able to take care of herself in a smashmouth situation, but still thinks and acts feminine. Even down to the way she gets mad at the two guys working with her in Strange Angels.
The set-up is familiar, of course. All of these paranormal-girls-against-the-dangerously-weird are going to run close to the same source, but St. Crow proves herself over and over as a storyteller with a lot to say and a way of moving a story along.
Dru has a lot of mysteries in her life. The foremost is what happened to her mother all those years ago, and how she got to be chosen as one of those hunters who chase the dark things through the night and the shadows. And there’s the matter of those strange “hex” powers that get stronger and stronger nearly every day.
I’m not giving anything away by mentioning that Dru’s ex-Marine dad gets zombified at the beginning of the the book because readers get that from the back cover copy. But I do wish I’d gotten to hang out with him more. The father/daughter relationship seems really solid and I can’t help feeling I missed out on a lot of great adventures and family stuff.
The loss of Dru’s dad is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Apparently all of the stuff Dru never learned about herself is coming home to roost all at once. The magnification of her powers and abilities is a magnet to everything evil creeping around the city.
Graves, the cool homeless kid who befriends her and takes care of her, is a good character and I can’t wait to see him develop with all the changes (literally) that he’ll be going through. Christophe is equally interesting, and he has at least as many secrets as Dru has.
St. Crow has done a good job of world-building as well. I like the idea of “wulfen” and “suckers,” although these are just substitutes for werewolf and vampires. But there are other weird things lurking out there that she’s only now giving us a peek at. I also like the fact that the book takes place in the middle of winter with snow all around instead of the typical balmy summer day. The weather provides great atmosphere.
I will say that the language is full-on adult. Several f-bombs get dropped along the way, and the 9-12 crowd needs to know that Strange Angels isn’t a gentle read. The young teens to early twentysomethings (as well as several adults) will hunker down and read this one practically in one sitting. And be anxiously awaiting the second in the series coming in November – not soon enough!