Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Unforgettable: The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce

As you can see, these books have been re-released with new covers (above), which are very different from the covers of the books I bought ten years ago (below).

These books are definitely intended for at least a junior high audience. Still, that didn't stop me from checking The Darkangel out of the school library when I was in third grade. I loved the summary on the back and was determined to read it. Unfortunately, my reading skills weren't quite up to the challenge of reading this fantasy book written for kids much older than me. So I reluctantly returned it to the library, having only read maybe twenty pages; I returned it early in the morning when the librarian wasn't in the library yet so that I wouldn't have to admit to her that she had been right, that it was a little too old for me.

But I certainly didn't forget about. When I got to sixth grade, I went back to the library in search of it. It wasn't there. I figured it must've been one of the books the school library borrowed from the public library, but they didn't have a listing for it either. A few years later, our town library networked their catalog with those of the other libraries in northwest Ohio, and I went back to check the other libraries. I searched both Darkangel and Dark Angel. I got a few hits for the latter, but none of them were the book I sought (but I did get a hit on a VC Andrews book that I did read).

I checked library catalogs intermittently throughout high school, but never with any luck.

And then, in my junior year of college, I took an adolescent literature course. One of our last assignments was to read a book--any book--from the YA/teen section of the university library, a section I hadn't paid much attention to prior to that class. We had to talk to the class about the book, why we'd chosen it, and whether we'd use it as a class book (why/why not). A week before the book had to be read, I went browsing. I'd fallen out of touch with the world of YA books, so I wasn't sure what I'd find. I had three books in my hand--a biography, a science fiction book, and a general fiction book--when I decided to make my decision without going through the last few shelves. And that's when I glanced at the shelf, and there it was: The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce.

I took Pierce's book home, and read it all that night in front of the fireplace. And the next day, I went to work (at the university bookstore) and ordered the other two books in the trilogy, feeling at once excited and silly for not realizing that it was a trilogy. (I'm drawn to trilogies, so I should just assume that every book I pick up is the beginning of a trilogy.)

I'm inclined to think that fans of Robin McKinley's YA books will also like Pierce's, even though this is a strange kind of fairy tale, in which the darkangel of the title is a kind of vampire that sucks souls instead of blood, and he has to collect thirteen souls--his brides--to take to his witch-mother in order to complete his transformation. Aerial, our heroine, is a slave to the woman he takes as his twelfth bride, and she volunteers to be his thirteenth, knowing of nothing else she could possibly be suited for.

It becomes Aeriel's mission, both in the first book and through the rest of the trilogy, to save both herself and the vampire; she knows he's not beyond redemption yet.

This is one of the trilogies on my shelf that I don't ever plan to part with.


Zibilee said...

This sounds like the perfect book for my daughter! I have to admit though, I will probably want to read it as well, as it sounds fascinating. I bet it is something I can really sink my teeth into.

Ali said...

What a cool story! I love finding books I remember from my childhood. I searched and searched for Mr. Pine's Mixed-Up Signs when my son was about 6, the right age to appreciate it, but couldn't find it. They've since re-released it, yay!

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Mari said...

The covers on these look great. I may have to find these to read.

Angiegirl said...

I'm happy to see this trilogy get some love. I discovered it a few years ago and loved it. I remember talking about it in a reading forum online and many people were upset with the how it all ended. I thought it was perfect for the series. The only way it could have gone. But it was interesting to hear the differing opinions. I love how you ended your review. We all have those books we could never, ever part with. :)

Katie G said...

I was enchanted by the first book when I read it as a preteen 10 years ago and I rediscovered the Trilogy as an adult and have fallen in love all over again. This has become my absolute favorite book. It's wonderful, full of adventure, magic, mystery, and a bit of romance. I especially like that it is set into the Earth's distant/or perhaps not so distant, future, where a new people are established on our now living moon, while it is now our own world that lies dead. And human beings become an anceint, god-like race. Simply fascinating! I've read it 7 times in 1 year and still never tire of the story. I recommend this book to all readers 150% !!

Jena said...

To Katie, who just left a delightfully enthusiastic comment, and then another follow-up: I saw your other comment, but chose not to publish it because it contained a spoiler for everyone who hasn't read the trilogy. I'd love to chat about this series via e-mail, though, if you'd like. You can contact me through the link on the right side of the blog.

Unknown said...

I've loved vampires and fantasy books but never knew this series existed. After the Twilight phenomenon our library pulled every vampire book to create a display. I saw this and was interested. My husband has already read the first book and now we are fighting over the library's only copies of the second and third books. I'm glad to see the book has fans--both new and original-- to keep it on our bookshelves.

M said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Most of my favorite books are books that I found through you.

Unknown said...

I somehow relate to your experience when you first found the book. I was in 5th grade when I found it and the only books that I could enjoy at that time were Goosebumps and fairytale booklets.:) Then I saw the entire Darkangel trilogy set in just one book. The cover page is awesome and I just fell in love with it. (Talk about judging the book by its cover..) Anyway, I tried to read it but the words at that time were too difficult for me so I did what any stubborn person would do- I continued to read even though I had to skip large bits of it. :) Anyway, when you kept on going you'll somehow gather the general flow of the story, as I had, given that it is somewhat made for a younger audience. Although I finished it haphazardly, it still remained in my memory until 7 years later in college I tried to look for it again. I acquired a copy of the trilogy and fell in love deeper that I had already been. Is that even possible? :) It really is an unforgettable book.