This is book 10 in an ongoing series, so really not the place to start. The first book in the series is Angels’ Blood. This review will contain some spoilers for that book.
Holly Chang, who for a while renamed herself Sorrow, was the only survivor of the terrible carnage perpetrated when the archangel Uram went crazy and kidnapped her and all her friends and proceeded to torture and kill most of them. He forced Holly not only to drink his blood, but to watch the atrocities he visited on her friends. The archangel of New York, Raphael, challenge and defeated Uram in a battle above New York, his consort Elena becoming an angel in the process. Elena, a former Guild Hunter, also found and rescued Holly, who was forever changed by her ordeal, not just emotionally, but physically.
Not really a vampire, but certainly not entirely human either, Holly now has lightning reflexes, small fangs, can paralyse her victims with extremely potent venom and while she enjoys and still consumes human food, she also has to drink blood to not lose control. While she’s worked to process her traumas, reconnected with her family and is working with the Tower to help the less fortunate in society (so she can feel useful, and the Tower can make sure she doesn’t lose control, Holly still feels like she’s being kept on too tight a leash, while also being terrified of the changes she’s still experiencing inside. She doesn’t dare tell anyone of the strange voice that seems to be speaking to her, for fear that she will be deemed crazy and put down for the safety of everyone.
The only other individual working for the Tower with any understanding of venomous toxins and bloodlust is Venom, one of Raphael’s Seven, the ones closest to him and most trusted. Turned into a vampire in India by the archangel Neha after she discovered he seemed to be immune to snake venom, Venom is a wholly unique creature, a vampire with snake eyes, whose saliva is also highly venomous. Interestingly, the Tower scientists have concluded that Holly and Venom’s toxins cancel each other out. While they are both extremely dangerous to most others, they are immune to one another. Hence Venom has been given special responsibility in Holly’s training, and adores frustrating and teasing her every chance he gets. For the past few years, their weekly lessons have been by phone, but now Venom is back in New York.
While Holly finds Venom extremely annoying, she cannot deny that he, like all of Raphael’s Seven, is also gorgeous and very attractive. If she’s being totally honest with herself, he also seems like the only one who doesn’t treat her like a victim or some volatile thing about to explode and that he does seem to have useful things to teach her. Venom and Holly have to spend a lot more time in each others’ company once it becomes clear that someone has put a five million dollar bounty on Holly’s head. She’s to be taken alive, and it seems very likely that the reason she’s to be abducted is because someone wants to to figure out exactly what surviving Uram did to change her physically. Venom is assigned as her bodyguard, and the two work together to find out who’s hunting her.
During their search, it’s clear that whatever alien thing is within Holly is trying to manifest in some way. She starts having acid green lines glowing on her chest, and the voice inside her is becoming more insistent. Holly has no choice but to confide in Venom and Dimitri, the head of Raphael’s Seven, and they need to figure out if she’s going to be overtaken by whatever bloodlust drove Uram crazy.
I finished this at around 2.30 am on January 1st 2020, meaning I can count it both as my last book of 2019 (anything finished before sleep belongs to the day before – them’s the rules), but also don’t feel too bad about reviewing it as my first entry in Cannonball 12. Based on what a scramble it was for me to reach the double in the final days of December, I’m not going to have the luxury to skip reviewing anything I read this year (I’m aiming for a single Cannonball, but hoping for a double).
Full review on my blog.