Skip to main content

Review: Dark Angels, by Karleen Koen


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.

Comments

S. Krishna said…
I'm disappointed you didn't like this, I have it on my shelf!
What a bummer! I loved the other two and I'm really sad to hear that the Alice of this novel is not the same. She was an amazing character and I was looking forward to more of her. Damn...I'll still read it of course, but knockin' it down the list a bit.

I second your recommendation about Forever Amber...fantastic book!
Brenda said…
I was disappointed, too. I read TAGD and NFTF several years ago and was really excited about reading about Alice and Richard's early life. This book really wasn't about Richard and Alice at all and more of a crime novel. Weird. A lot of loose ends. Maybe she'll have a sequel prequel. LOL

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…