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Aurora's Angel - Emily Noon

Who loves a shapeshifting, butch tigress with hidden magical abilities and a six-pack you could use as a washboard? What about a sassy, avian shapeshifter with wings of shimmery gold? I’ll go join that very long line of those hand-waving, appreciative readers.

Aurora’s Angel is about broken-winged angel trying to get home, and she picks up—not like picks up, although she’s the equivalent of ‘how you doin?’—a nocturnal huntress with a bloody past. It will be a dangerous journey—monsters are everywhere and the truly dangerous ones hide in plain sight, as they do, right? The nocturnal huntress, Aurora, has lived alone since her father’s brutal murder, and most of her time is spent hunting her dad’s killers. She’s right at that point, right where the words “Fuck it,” are finally uttered, and she decides to travel to a new land where nobody knows who she is. (She’ll stick out like a sore thumb, because of aforementioned ripped muscles, but I digress). But she decides on one last mission, because that’s what you do, hey? Everything is going to plan until she discovers the beautiful winged woman caged underground. Her decision to rescue Evie—she with the wings—and help her return home—despite avians being infamous for selling out shapeshifters, like Aurora, to cutters and black-market flesh dealers—will put her on a perilous path. As they journey, they become attracted to each other. I can’t see why… But Aurora is guarding her lonely heart almost as much as her dangerous secrets and Evie is struggling to accept how important Aurora has become to her. When their enemies conspire to kill them, they end up being each other’s only hope. Aurora is powerful but she’s also emotionally scarred and it will be up to Evie to save her from herself and to fight for them, or innocent people will die along with the guilty ones and Aurora will disappear from Evie’s life forever. I mean, how epic does all of that sound? (That’s rhetorical. It’s epic)

Emily Noon built the awesome fantasy world in Aurora’s Angel without the need to direct us to a chair, surround us with parchment and wood panelling and listen to a bearded bloke with a pipe muttering things like, “Long ago,” and “It is foretold,” for five and half thousand words. We jump in and the story tosses up enough back fill so that we know the why along with the what.

There are really intense baddies in this novel who commit unspeakable acts of violence. Emily Noon describes the atrocities in enough detail so not to be a Jeffrey Deaver novel, but ensures we appreciate the light and goodness that is Aurora and Evie and the people who support them. And there’s humour! I haven’t found fantasy novels to be hugely witty in my vast fantasy reading experience of two. But humour is scattered throughout the novel at obvious points but also at moments of tension where it’s used to deflect the stress of the event.

Here’s the bit that lots of readers mention in their posts in sapphic Facebook groups,  which are usually followed by that red sweating emoji or a line of capsicums. The chemistry. Aurora’s Angel is an entire laboratory of chemistry!  It’s a romance, so, as readers, we know that the MCs are getting to get together eventually. When they do, well…you’ll see. Or feel, more likely. The build up in their relationship is sensible; a word that is not just for contemporary fiction. It must apply to fantasy novels, because there should always be a reason for dragons. In the first third of the book, there’s no heat, except the mini campfires that Aurora creates each night. Then, it’s “I like you a lot, you like me a lot, we both like sex a lot…so?” and, well…who needs a campfire?


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