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A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world’s past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility.

Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.

I’ve been wanting to read this since reading Mandee’s review! A Temptation of Angels features an exciting plot and a sweet romance in the midst of a story about angels. While I feel the characterisation is a little under-developed and the world-building could have been richer, over-all I enjoyed this story a lot! It has a riveting plot – never a dull moment – and a cool take on angel mythology.

I loved the pacing of this book: I never felt the story was progressing too fast, and neither did I feel that I was getting bored. The plot is engaging and follows Helen and the Channing brothers as they try to find who is killing off the Keepers – the offspring of Angels who are charged with protecting the Earth. As Helen learns new skills and prepares to avenge her parents, she discovers a whole new world and soon encounters more dangers than she realised existed. Helen proves to be brave in the face of danger, however, and becomes a valuable member of their small team.

One of my favourite things about this book is the heroine: Helen isn’t a simpering leading lady that allows the men surrounding her (and there are many) to rule her life. She is independent and stubborn, and slowly recognises the vast inner strength she has. One thing I did not like about Helen is that the author uses her to dispense information to the reader, which unfortunately has the side-effect of implying that Helen doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together. Every little piece of information has to be explained to her to ensure that the reader has followed all the leaps that the author has taken, which are sometimes painfully obvious.

I was never very clear on what time period the book is set in – some of the technology seems weirdly futuristic to me, and yet the people dress and act like they are in Victorian (?) England, and use carriages for transport. While I believe the ambiguity in the setting of the book is deliberate, it does seem as though the author hasn’t done her research into any particular time period. If the book is set in Victorian times, or really in any time in our world’s history, I’m really confused as to why Helen, an unmarried girl on the cusp of woman-hood, is living with two strange men and letting a third hang out in her private sleeping chambers. Extremely improper behaviour for a woman of that age! Even when she goes and visits Galizur, who has a daughter of a similar age, he doesn’t offer Helen a place to stay, content to let her continue living unchaperoned with the brothers.

A Temptation of Angels is a commendable book by Michelle Zink that will be enjoyed by fans of YA fantasy. This book leaves room for a sequel, and I hope there is so we can see the growth of Helen and Griffin’s relationship and see where all the other characters end up!

About the book:

  • Date published: March 2012
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
  • Format: Hardback, 435 pages
  • ISBN 13: 9780803737266 ISBN 10: 0803737262
  • Categories: Young Adult (YA Fantasy)
  • Goodreads / The Book Depository / Booktopia (AU)

2 comments on “A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

  1. I haven’t read this one but will have to pick it up 🙂

  2. I quite liked Helen too, even when she ran off into a few silly situations, I was happy that she was thinking for herself!

    I really liked her with Griffin too, they seem like a good match.

    You’re right about the period setting, I don’t think I specified or if I did I took a guess. Perhaps Helen was a forward-thinking and thought the rules were boring!

    Loved this review and so glad you enjoyed it!

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