Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Angelfire is the debut novel from writer Courtney Allison Moulton and is part of the HarperTeen Book Series Dark Days of Supernatural. Here, young adult readers enter yet another supernatural world with its own rules, myths and vocabulary, this time through the eyes of 17-year-old Ellie.
Ellie is a typical high school girl whose world turns upside down when Will, a seemingly normal guy, “awakens” her to her destiny: She is the Preliator, (Latin for “warrior”) destined to enter another dimension called the Grim and fight demonic beings called Reapers,
who prey on human souls and unfairly drag them to hell. Will is Ellie’s Guardian, existing purely to help her fight and remind her of her duties.
The title for this novel refers to a special fire that emits from Ellie’s swords, which appear out of thin air when she commands them. Angelfire combines the ancient battle of good vs. evil with newer theories and ideas, including the notion of having past lives.
After reading the first couple of chapters, I initially made comparisons of Ellie’s fate with that of Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just as Buffy had a Watcher (Giles) and was generally considered the slayer, Ellie has a Guardian (Will) and she’s the only Preliator in existence. As I read on into the fight scenes, however, my perception of Ellie’s powers and destiny changed. As Ellie’s powers began to show, she appeared to be more like a ninja in a video game as opposed to a normal girl with extraordinary powers. Perhaps this is what Moulton was aiming for, but the latter type of heroine simply appeals more to my personal taste.
In addition, Reapers are described as huge, black, bear/dog-like creatures who salivate at the prospect of killing Ellie. Although Reapers can take human form, I had trouble imagining such harbingers of death appearing like a rabid dog; it seemed a bit cliché, although perhaps the images construed in my head were different from what the author intended.
Overall, this novel is well-written and the author thankfully provides her characters with contemporary and witty dialogue and expressions. While I personally had a hard time digesting Ellie’s new world, the majority of young adult readers out there will undoubtedly savor this debut effort.