A science fiction novel in an unusual subgenre: the main characters aren't human, and don't have human bodies. There are only a handful of these, mostly written by C. J. Cherryh, but I almost always enjoy them. It's surprising how rare it is to write solely or primarily from the POV of an alien.

I'm clarifying "don't have human bodies" because there's a lot of books that are technically from alien POVs but the aliens are physically identical to humans except for maybe having green blood or pointy ears. The effect of those books is quite different from those in which all the characters are giant cats.

In a world full of many non-human races, Moon is a lonely orphan shapeshifter, hiding his true nature amongst various non-shapeshifting people lest he be mistaken for the only shapeshifting race he's heard of, the predatory Fell. After he's unveiled and nearly killed, he meets one of his own kind for the first time since childhood, and learns that he is a Raksura, a member of the generally non-evil shapeshifting race.

"Won't you come back to your people? They'll all be delighted to meet you!" Needless to say, things don't go quite that smoothly.

I enjoyed the alien world of the Raksura, with their communal social organization, and I am a sucker for stories of lonely people finding a home, especially if they have no social skills and are basically feral. So I liked those aspects of the book. Minuses were flat prose that produced an unintended emotional distance, and that I dislike inherently evil races. The latter was, unfortunately, a major feature of the book.

The Cloud Roads (The Books of the Raksura)
I can't in all honesty call this a good book. It is, however, an incredibly entertaining one, infused with the Page-Turn Spell also notable in early Laurell Hamilton and Janet Evanovich. It's also supremely cracktastic and shamelessly wish-fullfilling, though unfortunately some of Singh's wish-fulfillment is my squick. But so it goes.

In a modern world much like ours except that not very nice angels have divided up and rule the world, and angels create vampires, white-haired and gold-skinned part-Moroccan (other parts unknown) Elena is a not-quite-human vampire hunter. When an angel creates a vampire, the vamp gets immortality but must be the angel's slave for a hundred years. If the vamps cut and run, Elena retrieves them.

But then Elena is hired by the alpha bastard to end all alpha bastards, gorgeously sexy archangel Raphael, to capture an archangel-vampire. Singh calls this creature a bloodborn, but I prefer anpire. Raphael threatens Elena, threatens Elena's best friend's infant daughter, mentally overrides her will, and generally is an overpowered asshole. But Elena, who is so tough herself that she scares most men, feels delightfully feminine in the presence of a man who is stronger than her. BAAAAAAAAAAAAARF.

I detested the equation of abuse and coercion with masculinity, and being weaker than men with femininity. I also detested Raphael. My single favorite moment of Elena-Raphael interaction was when she shot him in the wing.

The multiracial cast of supporting characters is fun, and I would have liked to spend more time with them. I also liked the crazily lush worldbuilding and the all-out idtasticness of it all. The angels' wings and everyone's eye colors and hair colors are described in the sort of detail I would have loved when I was tewlve, and kind of still do in certain moods. Angels exude glittering angel dust, which tastes great and gives you an orgasm when you eat it. It also explodes all over when angels orgasm, I kid you not!

ETA: The angel dust comes from the wings. Though it's not clear whether or not it comes exclusively from the wings. Normally I'm not big on cum descriptions (or on the word "cum") but in this one and very special case, I was very disappointed at the lack of one. I also, again very uncharacteristically, was sad at the lack of detailed description og Raphael's genitalia (except for his wings, which seemed to be some sort of secondary sex characteristic.)

Totally ridiculous and has some of the most politically objectionable gender dynamics I've come across in a while, and yet I would happily read more. What can I say? I'm still laughing at the fact that angels make vampires.

View on Amazon: Angels' Blood
The art is still gorgeous. The incest is still disturbingly hot, and there was a surprise heterosexual and as far as we know now, non-incestuous affair that was both hot and sweet. The plot, which featured an evil hand and crystal wings of demonic D00M, is so deliciously insane that I ended up live-blogging them to [livejournal.com profile] oyceter over email.

Click here to buy or feast your eyes on the exquisite cover art: Cantarella Volume 5 (Cantarella (Graphic Novel)) (v. 5)

Cantarella Volume 6 (Cantarella (Graphic Novel)) (v. 6)

Cesare: (as Volpe attempts to lick the blood off his chest wound) You'll die. My blood is poisonous. [...] Volpe: If that is so, then I have already been violated by the poison that is you. The sweet poison that is you. My life and my death belong to you! )
rachelmanija: (Angel Sanctuary: Kira)
( Dec. 15th, 2008 02:17 pm)
I recount this exchange between me and Oyce the other night because she wanted it preserved for posterity. It is especially apropos in light of the bewilderment (mostly mine and Oyce's) going on the comments to the Fairy Cube post. The thing with Yuki Kaori plots is that they're so insane, complex, and insanely complex that even if you understand them at the time, it's hard to get them to stick in your mind later.

Possibly incorrect spoilers for the endings of Angel Sanctuary and Godchild )
This is the sort of story where one can quite honestly write, "I forgot to mention that Heaven and Hell collided some volumes back."

It also features this exchange, which I believe can be appreciated out of context, and is probably the only time in the entire series when I liked Rosiel:

Sandalphon (creepy): Once I have my own body... I will devour you! I'll devour you all!

Rosiel (deadpan): Well, I'll look forward to that, Sandalphon.

You think that lump of flesh clinging to life in that tub is my true form?! )
I finished this series a while ago, but was unable to write it up because every time I attempted a thoughtful, coherent analysis, the content I was trying to analyze was so deliciously demented, so carefully foreshadowed yet totally insane, that my head exploded.

So I will not analyze. Perhaps someone else can analyze in comments. I will merely provide a highlight reel. And, in case this persuades others to persevere beyond the awful and incoherent first volume, this is the kind of series where it's not all that spoilery to mention that a fleet of flying cannibal zombie angel embryos is sent out to destroy the universe. Also, the art is jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially on the covers.

Setsuna escapes on the back of a flying whale. )
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