I was disappointed in this book. I had high expectations for it because I loved Through a Glass Darkly. I didn’t like Now Face to Face quite as much, but I had high hopes for Dark Angels nonetheless.
Dark Angels is the prequel to both those books. It's the story of Barbara's grandmother, Alice, as a young girl in the court of Charles II, "the Merry Monarch." The novel opens upon the day Charles's sister Minette arrives home from the French court for a visit after ten years away. Afterwards, Alice secures for herself a position in the court of Queen Catherine and is a first-hand witness to the events that take place therein. While the author does a remarkable job describing the events of the time, she captures none of the debauchery and licentiousness that characterized the court of Charles II; all of the characters seem lifeless and flat. There's a mystery included, I guess to add some excitement, but it was anticlimactic. It’s almost as though the author started out with one idea and quickly moved on to another.
Alice in the 1670s is 16 and mature beyond her years. The problem I had with Alice's character is that she appears to be a completely different person from the woman she becomes in Through a Glass Darkly and Now Face to Face. I found myself completely disliking the Alice who appears here. Another thing I disliked was the relationship between Alice and her future husband, Richard. There was none of the "spark" that I expected. It left me thinking, "now what?" Let's hope there's a sequel planned. As a novel about the Restoration period, I recommend Kathleen Windsor's Forever Amber over this book.