Written by: Justine Musk
Published by: Roc
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
There are some books that incorporate magical elements and do so poorly, making the story seem forced and absurd, and then there are books that handle strong magical elements with style, managing to make the story interesting without sounding like a bad episode of Charmed. BloodAngel, I’m very glad to say falls into the latter category. I picked up Justine Musk’s BloodAngel quite simply because she shared the same name as my wife and because the cover intrigued me. My initial assumption, made from reading the title and skimming over the first chapter, was that this book would be another vampire book trying to pretend it was something else. Looking back, I can not believe how wrong that assumption had been.
BloodAngel follows three different lives—some more than others—to create three stories that are linked and eventually collide. The principal character—the one that is shown the most—is Jessamy Shepard a young painter who’s on the cusp of fame, and is haunted by visions of a boy whom she can not stop painting about. Her life is irrevocably altered when Kai Youngblood, a mysterious, yet handsome man walks into her life, seeking her help. Kai claims to be of royal blood and tells her a tale of a long forgotten society of magic users that had once lived lavishly and now were scattered throughout the world, shadows of their former selves. He tells of a slave who rebelled against that society and nearly destroyed them all. And he tells her that the slave has returned and only she can stop the girl from destroying not only magic users but the entire world.
Ramsey is a boy who should have died when he was five. He has no memory of his life prior to that, and has no idea why he is still alive. He lives with a foster family who treats him well, but Ramsey is still plagued by a feeling that something is not right with him. He hears a voice in his head, he knows things he shouldn’t, and he doesn’t know what he knows he should know—who he is. He connects with a band called Trans for their powerful, soul-shaking lyrics and emotional beats, and plans to go with his internet friends into the desert for a Woodstock-like concert to see Trans. Only when tragedy strikes and Ramsey can no longer pretend that he is still a normal boy, he leaves the security of his foster family and tries to find the friend that had invited him to the concert in the first place.
Lucas was a has been musician who was out of luck and out of options until he met Asha, a beautiful woman with the voice of a god who helped him get his musical career back on track. Now he is in the limelight once again, fans adore him, and he can have anything he wants so long as he sticks with Asha. The problem is, Asha is not human. She is a possessed former slave to a lost society of magic users and she seeks to destroy the world. But first, she needs the boy, inside whom a powerful being lurks. If she can get to the boy before her enemies do, no one will be able to stop her. Until then, she uses Trans to collect an army of followers and lure them all to the desert to witness the BloodAngel.
At a glance, BloodAngel may seem complicated, but in reality, it is very well thought out and easy to follow. And Justine Musk’s writing invites the reader to continue the journey, page after page. She has a great voice and style, that managed to make a story about magical users and a possessed slave as believable and emotional as anything I’ve ever read. What I really liked was how Justine presented the readers with different perspectives than the usual ‘she’s bad, so let’s kill her,’ crap. She offers an honest and unassuming view of Asha that actually left me understanding the crazed demon’s motives, even if I did agree she needed to be stopped.
So in short: buy this book, rent this book, borrow this book, whatever gets you to read this book. There weren’t any vampires in it like I’d hoped, but I didn’t miss them one bit.