Tomes of Shadowstalking

Welcome to the land of shadows, where evil is the greatest power, where nightfall marks the birth of terror, where your very soul is at risk. Join me as I investigate worlds filled with black magic and dark souls and encounter the monsters rule these wicked places.

W A R N I N G !

This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the book.

That said, on to the review!

Title: Night World: Dark Angel
Author: L.J. Smith
Publisher: Archway Paperbacks
Format: Paperback
Copyright Date: 1996

Have you ever had a near-death experience? Well, Gillian has. She died and her soul was on its way to the afterlife when something intercepted it and led her back to life. But that something followed her, and now its haunting her. It calls itself Angel and he looks like it. He seems to act like one, too, helping her to remake her self-image into someone more assertive and more attractive. He even tells her the truth, that she comes from a family of powerful witches and urges her to make contact with the Night World, where she could become a power in her own right. But would an angel, even her guardian angel, really encourage her to hurt her enemies? Would he urge her to turn against her one true friend? Would he try to kill her one and only soulmate on the chance that he could possess his body and become flesh once more? Well, that is what he does, and it's up to Gillian to correct the mistakes she's made in following his every direction. The question is, how do you stop a spirit--a ghost--who happens to be drop-dead gorgeous and determined to stay with you?

Dark Angel might be considered an offshoot of Spellbinder because it takes Thea's problems with a spirit she called forth and turns it around, with a spirit coming back for reasons of its own and plaguing the witch it helped. More than that, though, it's a story that takes a haunting look at near-death experiences and what effect it has on the survivors. There's no telling what could happen to those who come face-to-face with death or how it would change their lives, even without spirits guiding them down paths they've never trodden. Perhaps Gillian would have remained the way she'd been before her near-death experience, or perhaps she would have changed into a more outgoing person than she'd been before, even without Angel's help. Perhaps she would have gone in a different direction all together. Who can tell?

Although I loved the appearance of Ash Redfern (remember him from Secret Vampire and Daughters of Darkness?) and his fairly distinguishing role in this book--reinforcing the difference between "good" Night World people and "evil" people--as a reference back to previous books, it isn't anything about the Night World that really won my interest. It was seeing the social politicking and cliques that abounded at Gillian's high school and how everyone jockeyed around to be "in" and popular. The different components of social power was entirely different from the magical power available to Gillian, but there was definitely power there for the taking by those who truly wanted it.

While a YA novel--like all of L.J. Smith's other books--Night World: Dark Angel adds a strange twist to the story of near-death experiences, turning it from what could have been a beautiful experience into an ongoing nightmare for one who isn't prepared to handle it. I loved nearly every moment of this book. The one holdout? How would you feel if someone described...well, I won't go there, but it's gruesome!

Rating: Thumbs up! If a spirit calls itself an angel, does that mean it is one?

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