Wicked Nights, Gena Showalter’s latest release, is the first book in her new Angels of the Dark series, spun off of her Lords of the Underworld books. The premise is an interesting one…a group on angels on the verge of being expelled from the heavens are given a year to prove themselves worthy of remaining.
First up is Zacharel, whom we first met helping the Lords of the Underworld. He has been appointed as leader of the group of angels who are so near to losing their wings. Zacharel is part of the group because he is extremely emotionally detached and is more concerned with defeating the enemy than with protecting humans. Zacharel is cold – he believes the last bit of goodness in him died with his twin brother, Hadrenial, leaving him emotionless. Part of Zacharel’s punishment for his behavior is that snow falls from his wings most of the time…sometimes a flurry, sometimes more – depending on his behavior. Heh. The Deity has a sense of humor. Zacharel is also punished if any member of his army disobeys the rules – a good reason to get them to behave, I’m thinking, but they didn’t end up where they are because they are biddable.
When a mission sends Zacharel and his army to a mental hospital in Colorado, the last thing he expects to find is a young woman being attacked by dozens of demons…and mostly holding her own. Since humans can’t usually see demons, Zacharel is intrigued. On closer inspection, he notices the human’s eyes are an unusual shade of blue commonly seen in demons’ consorts. Since humans can be marked unwillingly, and this human is obviously not being protected by the demon who marked her, Zacharel decides to investigate the situation.
Annabelle Miller has been institutionalized since she was a teenager. She was convicted of brutally murdering her parents but found to be so mentally unstable, that instead of going to prison, Annabelle was put into a mental hospital. She remembers what happened the day her parents were killed and she remembers the creature that killed them – scales, horns and all – but Annabelle knows no one will ever believe her. But when Zacharel appears and questions her about how she was marked by a demon, suddenly things start to fall into place – not make sense, exactly, but Annabelle knows she isn’t crazy. And watching her, seeing all the things she has been through…the coldness in Zacharel starts to crack just the tiniest bit.
But can Zacharel protect Annabelle from the lesser demons that keep tormenting her? And can they discover which demon lord marked her and destroy him? What about Zacharel’s misbehaving army – will they learn the error of their ways? (This is the first book of a series, so I’m going to say “Yes. Eventually.”) And what is happening with Zacharel’s wings??
I enjoyed this book, faithful reader. Of course, I am a fan of Ms. Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series and this book is very similar in tone. If you enjoyed the LotU books, you should totally check out Wicked Nights. Do you need to read the previous books to enjoy this one? No. Ms. Showalter does a pretty good job of explaining things without bogging down. Besides, Zacharel was mainly a minor supporting character in the last LotU book, so there isn’t much backstory to deal with there. Once Zacharel and Annabelle go on the run, it is a twisty, turny rollercoaster of angsty fun. One plot twist really surprised me! I will not spoil it for you, though. If you are in the mood for a dark, twisty paranormal, this book is for you.
My grade: B
Leader of the most powerful army in the heavens, Zacharel has been deemed nearly too dangerous, too ruthless—and if he isn’t careful, he’ll lose his wings. But this warrior with a heart of ice will not be deterred from his missions at any cost…until a vulnerable human tempts him with a carnal pleasure he’s never known before.
Accused of a crime she did not commit, Annabelle Miller has spent four years in an institution for the criminally insane. Demons track her every move, and their king will stop at nothing to have her. Zacharel is her only hope for survival, but is the brutal angel with a touch as hot as hell her salvation—or her ultimate damnation?
Read an excerpt.