Sandra Hill has been penning supernatural romance novels for years now. She’s astonishingly prolific, and her books have seen her on The New York Times bestseller list. Her most popular – or certainly most well-known – novels are the Deadly Angels series, the most recent of which being The Angel Wore Fangs. It follows a bunch of seriously sexy vangels—yes, really, Viking vampire angels—through numerous lusty and dangerous adventures.
The majority of these novels are fairly by the book (no pun intended) in terms of plot and composition. A ridiculously ripped and sexy Viking bloke (oh, fine, I’ll say it… vangel) journeys into the future…or the past…than embarks upon a splendid adventure with an equally attractive human gal who (invariably) finds herself thrumming with sensual energy.
Something mighty strange is going on with the seventh instalment in the series, however. The Angel Wore Fangs is a book that doesn’t know how to stop with the epic. It’s paranormal romance’s equivalent of Ulysses, or possibly The Sound And The Fury…
I’m talking plot, here, not literary achievement, because this bad boy just doesn’t stop…
The Angel Wore Fangs: A Review
First there’s the epic title. Cheesy, yes, but so ingenious I really rather wish I’d thought of it first, not least because of the obvious Buffy reference.
The tale begins with a suitably stunning vangel named Cnut Sigurdsson.
Being as I am a girl who hales from Knutsford, the very place where King Cnut forded the River Lily (which is now a very impressive foot wide stream that we’re all very proud of), this name already makes me like him.
Now, usually Cnut would be slaying himself some Lucipires (demon vampires…that’s obvious, right?) while ogling a hapless damsel with goodly cleavage, but I was quite startled to find The Angel Wore Fangs stepped up to the dramatic plate and smashed it.
What do with have? Hoards of demons? Rabid werewolves? Unspeakable sorcerers?
Nope, something a whole lot worse…
Yes. That really happened.
Now you’d be forgiven for thinking that a time traveling Viking vampire angel going toe to toe with ISIS and looking swashbucklkingly gorgeous while doing it was enough for one novel.
This book just doesn’t quit.
A chef named Andrea hires Cnut to save her sister from a fearsome cult who are recruiting terrorists…in Montana…at a ranch.
Yep, Cnut is not only a time traveling Viking vampire angel he’s now also a cowboy.
To make this whole thing slightly relevant to the premise of the series it transpires that the Lucipires have joined their evil forces with the equally evil forces of ISIS in order to wander about a ranch in Montana.
I truly have no idea WHY they would do this, but at this point I’ve given up trying to find any semblance of sense in the story and I’m just enjoying the ride…
Cnut is forced to ‘teletransport’ both himself and Andrea away from the ranch and the demons and the cowboys and ISIS, to the Norselands in the 10th-century, because….
I’m going to go with quantum.
Quantum explains everything. The time traveling, the horrific clash of stereotypes, the total absence of any women in this book other than Andrea (who is a simpering fool) and her erstwhile sister who is even more of an idiot for getting herself captured by demonic terrorists. Yes, the power of quantum even explains the unfathomable use of ‘teletransport’…
But things couldn’t possibly be simple now they’ve travelled back in time several hundred years for absolutely no reason. No, of course not. Cnut’s telepathic-transportational-time-travelling-hoodoo only works one way….
Which makes even less sense because…well how did he get to our time and then back to his time (necessitating two trips in opposite directions) if it only works one way?
…yeah, I’m calling Voodoo Shark on that one.
So, Cnut and Andrea are now trapped in 10th century Norseland and must say things and do things and go places in order to find a way to magic themselves back to the future in time to rescue the useless sister from a demonic hoard of ISIS terrorists at a cowboy ranch in Montana…
This is one of those books that has to be read to be believed. It’s a trainwreck from start to finish but it’s just so dang funny, like Finnegan’s Wake with fangs…and Vikings…and terrorists…and cowboys…and seriously stupid women.
Note: For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the ‘voodoo shark’, it is a term used to describe a ridiculous explanation for something that happens in a plot for no reason other than ‘the plot needs it’. The name comes from the book adaptation of Jaws: The Revenge. Not the film, the book. In the film the monster shark is following the Brody family and killing as many of them as possible. Why? Plot. How can a shark track a specific family and distinguish them from other humans? Never explained. What could possibly cause a shark to develop a concept as highly complex and so quintessentially human as revenge? Never explained. The film doesn’t even try to give a logical explanation for its silliness. The film makers wanted to tell a story about a monster shark hunting and killing the family of Chief Brody, the man responsible for (eventually) killing the original Jaws, and the killer sharks in both subsequent sequels. Yep, that’s right. It’s not even the same fucking shark seeking revenge, it’s the fourth in a series of sharks. Evidently this one is pissed off about the demise of its predecessors and, since Chief Brody is dead (i.e. nobody could convince Roy Scheider to return for such a ridiculous premise), this shark is hell bent on killing his whole family.
In the book adaptation, Hank Searls is clearly struggling as an author to justify such a ludicrous plot device and come up with an explanation for it: voodoo. It’s not the shark seeking revenge, it’s someone using the shark as an instrument for revenge through the power of voodoo. While this is still an utterly ridiculous turn of events, it does at least try to offer an explanation, and makes considerably more sense than no explanation at all. Revenge, after all, is a human concept. That a human was behind it and somehow controlling the shark at least explain why the shark was acting on a human impulse.
In any case, a Voodoo Shark is a flimsy explanation for an element of a story that clearly exists purely for the sake of the plot. It makes no sense, but the plot needed to get the characters into a particular place or situation, and rather than … I don’t know, writing a decent story … the author simply makes it happen without any logical explanation. If an explanation is given, it makes next to no sense, but at least it’s an attempt at answering the question.
This post was originally published on Sci-Fi Fantasy Network, which unfortunately is no longer live. Before the site went offline the PTB were good enough to send me everything I’d published on there over the years so I could republish it here.