Monday, February 23, 2009

Angels and Demons

Ciara thinks the next big thing in romance is steampunk.

I'm a little less cutting edge than that. My predictive powers are weak at best--witness my manufacturing degree, ca 1988 (should've minored in Chinese), and my MBA, ca 1993 -- talk about trend busters! But I think I may have identified a mini-trend already in progress. I'm clearly way better at that.

So while vampires and shifters have been the big story for the last few years, I'm thinking that demons and angels are the next--OK, current-- big wave in paranormal fiction, whether romance, UF, or horror.

Kim Harrison's Hollows series kicked off in April 2004 with some scary-ass demons. I'm only on book 2 so I can't say if they end up being a love interest/hero but at the moment? not. But it could go that way.

While I was a little lukewarm on Jenna Black's vampire world, I really like her Morgan Kingsley series, kicking off with Devil Inside back in November of 2007. Her demon is both sexy and seriously scary. I think she will somehow end up with him romantically (maybe she already has; I'm not caught up yet even though the latest is waiting in my TBR pile!) So, he's kind of a hero, but like Facebook says, It's Complicated.

So romances, with demons as the hero, I didn't start noticing until more recently. The first one I saw was Christine Warren's The Demon You Know, from May of 2007, and Rule is seriously yummy. But demons are only one of a whole pantheon of paranormals in Warren's world, and not the most prevalent.

Then I found Meljean Brook, whose Guardian series features angels most prominently, and a demon as the series' first heroine. Though Brook is kicking off a new steampunk series shortly, the Guardians are continuing-- hot off the presses is the cover for Demon Forged, tentatively due out in October of this year. We haven't gotten a demon hero yet; they're almost by definition bad/evil, but I have to admit I'm intrigued by the demon who plagues Charlie Newcomb and her sister in Demon Night. Since Charlie's sister opts to keep Sammael around, I have to wonder why... coughcoughnovella!cough maybe?

About the same time, I was burning through Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark, and let me just say that Cade Woede can eat crackers in my bed any ol' time.

Larissa Ione debuted her popular "Demonica" series last June with demon heroes. She has a big following but I have to admit I'm not that into them, so no telling if angels will make an appearance. If they do, you won't hear it here first, but you can keep an eye on Literary Escapism -- Jackie always has the scoop.

But wait, there's more.

Nalini Singh, author of the Psy/Changeling series, launches her new Guild Hunter series on March 3 with Angels' Blood. For a sneak peek, an e-novella called "Angels' Pawn" set in the same world will be available tomorrow (check Nalini's site for the right link). Isn't that a gorgeous cover? I love the platinum-blond hair.

And finally (that I know of), last Halloween, J.R. Ward somewhat unofficially announced (read down in the comments) her new series starting off this October, which she describes thusly:

COVET: A Novel of the Fallen Angels is the first of the books and let’s just say it’s all about angels and Harleys and evil and redemption. The tag line’s Destiny’s a witch and then you die… but love always brings you back.

She goes on: So far as I’m aware, the hero of the whole series is a guy named Jim Crane who’s a carpenter and it’s all about him going up against the devil (who’s a very hot brunette, btw) with the help of his two partners, a scruffy dog and his bad attitude. There are other heros who come in along the way and there is a love story in every book. Things may change as I get into the writing, but the bare bones are set and I can’t wait to get started!

Now, I confess, this description kind of gives me bad flashbacks to studying The Red Badge of Courage in sophomore English class with Mrs. Harris in her fluorescent blue eyeshadow, bludgeoning us all about the heads and shoulders with the allegory: "Notice his initials are Jayyyyyy.... Ceeeeeeee...and he sacrifices himself.... What other important historical figure do we know with the initials Jayyyyyy.... Ceeeeeee... ?"

Later on her forum, Ward says that the name Crane was an error and the name is actually Jim Heron. I don't know if she changed her mind or if "Crane" came out instead of Heron because Stephen Crane's analogies got beaten into her by an English teacher with fluorescent blue eyeshadow too or what... but in any event, "Heron" just strikes me as a little weird. Is it an homage to Stephen Crane? It probably wouldn't bug me if I hadn't seen Crane first, but now it's just going to be "Jim Long-Legged-Bird; Heron/Crane/Flamingo etc" in my mind and will probably distract me every time I see it.

Not that I overthink things or anything.

But Ward has me by the short little fan-girl hairs so I will certainly read the first one, and assuming it's better than Phury's book, probably the second one as well. As always, you can keep an eye on my sidebar for the countdown to the next JR Ward book.

Did I miss any good angel/devil series? Chime in!
angel/devil image used with permission, courtesy of Mark Stivers.


Chris said...

Don't forget Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series! Japh is one seriously sexy demon.

Carolyn Crane said...

Wow, I didn't realize there were so many angel/demon novels out there. We'll see about Steampunk - I haven't actually read one yet, but angels and demons do seem hot!

KT Grant said...

When I talked to Ward at NJ RWA she said her new series will definitely be Paranormal Romance and not Urban Fantasy as most feel her BDB series is.

I am still undecided if I will enjoy Steampunk.

Jackie (Literary Escapism) said...

Honey, just which demon are you referring to in the Morgan Kingsley series? Adam and Dom are together already!

I do like Larissa Ione, plus I have the entire trilogy already, so the reviews are coming.

I had not heard that about a new Ward series!

Jackie (Literary Escapism) said...

Another demon novel is Bite Me. It's kind of YA, but involves a succubus.

There is also Jackie Kessler's Hell on Earth series.

There are demon elements in Sunny's Monere series.

There is also Jacquelyn Frank's Nightwalker series.

A few other authors with Demon elements - Anne Bishop, Angie Fox, Patricia Briggs (When Demons Walk).

Cheyenne McCray's Magic series has demons as villains, but not heroes.

I also have to second Chris's comment about the Dante series.

Nicola O. said...

Chris, I read a Saintcrow short story during Antholopalooza and it seriously creeped me out-- I haven't decided if it was in a good way or not, although I thought the writing was brilliant.

Jax, I remembered the Frank series belatedly. I think I tend to lump them together with the Larissa Ione books. As for "which demon," I mean Morgan's demon, of course. The one that appears in her head, embodying certain fantasies? That one.

CJ and Kati, I'll surely try any old thing that Meljean wants to write. I think as long as it's character-driven, I'm up for it. Sometimes if there's a lot of really dense world-building, like Jacqueline Carey or Lois McMaster Bujold, I have to be in more of a certain mood for it -- they're more work, but the right author will make it worth it.

Anonymous said...

I liked the Dante series, but I couldn't read the series in one sitting. Although it's still on my list to read.

I'm not sure where Lugh is going with the Kingsley series. Although, I wouldn't mind seeing the Adam, Dom, and Morgan relationship get even more complicated. :P

Anonymous said...

Don't forget J. Frank's Nightwalkers. I only read Jacob, and he is an oh so yummy demon.
Not sure whether Steampunk is for me.

JenB said...

I looove Rule. I'm shocked at how many people don't like demons and angels.

Like maybe we're not supposed to find them sexy...?

I am sooooo not into steampunk. Bleh.

Victoria Janssen said...

Thanks for the link to the steampunk news!

I ♥ Book Gossip said...

After JR Wards Phury book, her series has been off track. Her anthology doesn't fit in the series and all of a sudden she throws is a curve ball;urban fantasy. I dont like it when authors leave you in the middle of nowhere stranded with the two good books they did write. Im sad.

Nicola O. said...

Jax-- you want it MORE complicated?? Yeesh, don't ask for much, do you.

Rikki-- Yeah, I'm a little meh on Jacob.

Jen-- I could see how the angel/ demon thing could make people of a strong faith uncomfortable. I'm all good with fiction though. Cuz, yanno, it's FICTION.

Victoria-- thank Ciara, not me, and maybe Meljean. Looks like some interesting stuff, no? And I like your site, I'll be back to check it out more.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah....let's make Dom, Adam and Morgan a lot more complicated. can't you just see the reaction Morgan would have after a night with those two? She's so easily...embarrassed? the displays of affection the two show in her presence; just imagine what would go on behind the scenes. I personally can't wait for the fourth novel to come out.

Nicola O. said...

I Heart -- I disagree, I guess. The BDB series is supposed to continue; I think she's going to alternate books. She is still planning on writing at least two more - Tohr and JM are supposed to get books.

I don't care if they're shelved under UF or Romance, I like the characters and I like the stories, and Ward has promised a love story in every book, so I'm willing to give it a shot! I think it's all a continuum anyway. I posted a whole review on Story of Son, so I won't take up more space here on it. ;)

Jackie... all I can say is that you have an evil imagination.

I like that.

Anonymous said...

Fallen Angels certainly make an appearance in Larissa Ione's latest demonica book, Desire Unchained. Kynan, a major secondary character and human, discovers some interesting things way back in his family tree at the end of DU - future book alert! Kynan and Gem will return.

I also think that Nephilim are the hot new thing in paranormal romance. Sometimes they show up as fallen angels, sometimes they're related to vampires. Off the top of my head - Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh, and Lori Handeland write about them. I think Jill Miles' new books

Anonymous said...

...continued...Jill and I had some discussion about Nephilim on Twitter a few months ago and I can't find it. I know her books are succubi, but I can't remember if she said she also wrote Nephilim or not. Ah, memory.

Anonymous said...

KB - I disagree with the BDB being UF. Each book has a new hero/heroine who find love together and reach a mutually satisfying HEA at the end of the book -> therefore it's romance. I always think of UF as having the same protagonist through a series and it's usually written in the first person. No HEA.

Nicola O. said...

I don't know what the publisher or industry guidelines are around UF, but I think that Ward fans who feel like the books are veering more into Urban Fantasy are objecting to the feeling that the *focus* of the series has shifted away from the individual couple to the building tension in the series arc. I like both genres (and a lot of others) and see the "walls" between genres and subgenres as more mutable, so as long as the story is good, I'm OK with an author playing around with exactly where on the spectrum they want to be.

I didn't love "Lover Enshrined" as much as the others not because the emphasis shifted away from the romance, but because I didn't love the characters and I didn't think there was a GOOD romance.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Nicola, I got 20-30 pages into Lover Enshrined and had to put it down because Phury just pissed me off. His whole character was more a whiny druggie wuss than anything at the moment. I liked him in the previous novels, but now he does nothing for me.

I still haven't read the novel, but know I have to if I want to read Lover Avenged, so I'll muddle through it eventually.

Anonymous said...

I just read Carolyn Jewel's A Darker Crimson. Vampires, weres, and demons. The first two-thirds were good reading, but once it became primarily romance it lost oomph; I didn't think the characters were developed enough to carry the book without all the action.

Which reminds me that I've been reading less of this genre because the relationships started to seem too similar. It's great seeing different details in the world building, and I do sometimes see interesting characters who aren't the same ol' types, so this subgenre's definitely something I'm glad to see in romance. But for my taste, some of the relationships themselves seem stuck in a rut.

Anonymous said...

I sort of happen upon things like this since I aimlessly meander through genres and don't pay attention. It's interesting that this seems to be the next/current big thing.

The only one of these I'm familiar with is the Hollows series; I'll be interested in what you think as you go along. I don't think the series really gets too heavily into the angel/demon thing, even if a demon does feature prominently in a couple of the books.


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