Archangel by Sharon Shinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Beyond Reality February 2012 Science Fiction Selection
The protagonist, Rachel, grabbed me immediately. Not only was she a superb vocalist, she reminded me in so many ways of my own daughter, also named Rachelle, and who is also a superb vocalist (mezzo soprano, though, instead of Rachel's coloratura soprano). As soon as I finished the book, I sent a recommendation off to my Rachelle, hoping she'd read it and enjoy it as much as I did.
The religious references intrigued me (and sometimes made me laugh - did anyone else think that the name of Semorrah was a mashed-up condensation of Sodom and Gemorrah?) and the musical elements fascinated me. I play piano, attempt to sing (not as well trained as my daughter, so I gave it up as a lost cause at this point in my life) and I know basic music theory. My husband has years of training (jazz trumpet and guitar), composes music and has perfect relative pitch; all of which he passed on to our daughter.
On the question of whether this novel is science fiction or fantasy, I leaned towards the former early on. Once introduced to the oracle Josiah in Archangel, I began to believe I was reading a science fiction story (perhaps along the lines of Pern?). But the rest of the novel revealed little beyond that scene with the Oracle. Another clue could also be derived from the 'smallness' of their 'planet' in area and scope.
I interpreted the singing as magical. The story is mostly a romance, which I normally avoid like the plague, but in this case it worked well.
I have not decided yet if I will continue this series. I'll have to research my friends' reviews of it and see if it gets better or if this installment is as good as it gets.
All in all, I really enjoyed Archangel, even if it seemed to be a romance masquerading as a fantasy with hints of science fiction sprinkled throughout.
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