Dru’s life takes a turn for the worse when her dad turns into a zombie and tries to kill her. With her Mum long dead and no other family, Dru’s alone in a strange city with even stranger problems. She and her dad have travelled around hunting scary monsters for as long as she can remember, but something is different about this town. She doesn’t know what her dad was looking for here, but it seems he found it. The thing is, zombies don’t just happen. Someone did it to him on purpose. And that someone is looking is looking for Dru now. She may be tough and dangerous, but she’s about to get deeper into the Real World than ever before.
I was interested to read this book because I don’t seem to read that much urban fantasy. It had a lot that I expected in it – it was fast-paced, full of action and suspenseful. The characters and the use of backstory surprised me by their depth. Dru clearly has a hidden past which will be explored in the next books. And that brings me to my biggest problem with the book. Strange Angels reads like the most blatant first-in-a-series I’ve ever read. It felt like the pilot for a TV series; setting up scene, characters and the world and ending with a hook. Questions with no answers. The problem with that is there’s not going to be another episode next week, so I wanted far more closure. I also found that in some respects, it was too clichéd. For example the use of occult stores hiding the ‘Real World’ is nothing new and seemed to lack effort in a usually original story.
At first glance, Dru is a typical heroine for this type of story. She’s gutsy, knows a lot about monster slaying, is somehow very important to everyone though she has no idea why... However, as I mentioned, the use of backstory saved this. Dru has a real history, real problems, and reads like a real person. She’s not experienced enough and she’s in over her head, not knowing who to trust, yet she faces and fights these problems, making her a relatable and likeable character. Other characters were just as well developed, specifically Graves, a guy from school. His friendship with Drew is one of the highlights. The monsters were also original, especially the flame dog thing. They were coherently described and the action scenes were well written.
I actually think Strange Angels has been unfairly advertised. I admit I don’t know the genre that well, but it seems like the story inside is a lot different from what the cover would suggest. The cover looks to me like the most general, stereotypical urban fantasy clichéd cover. For example the tagline – DRU ANDERSON. Night Hunter. Knife Thrower. Heart Breaker. Yes she’s called Dru. There’s no specific mention of night, it just seems to be a sort of euphemism for ‘urban-fantasy-monster hunter’ and she’s not really the hunter so much as her dad was. Her dad has taught her how to fight, but not specifically with a knife, usually it’s a gun or unarmed. I guess she might be pretty, but to be a heart breaker you have to give someone the chance to lose their heart first and as she’s always moving and never really gets involved with people, I’m suspicious of this one too. I guess this is a really long-winded way of saying the cover’s misleading - the book’s not as formulaic and stereotypical as it suggests.
It wasn't my favourite read, though I'd say it's worth checking out. But if like me, you hate it when a book tries to get you to read the sequel by not finishing properly, Strange Angels will annoy you no end. I suggest you wait until the next book is out, then read them both together.