Review: A Temptation of Angels

A Temptation of Angels
A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a book that I guess you have to be a teen to love. As an adult, I was put off by all the historical details being so off – the social customs and mores were just not there, and conventions were thrown to the wind. Basically, Helen barely escapes from her home when some men come and start harassing her parents – her mother tells her to hide and use a small staircase and tunnel to get to a house where she will be safe, and gives her a necklace to “help” her. As she escapes her burning home, she know her parents are sacrificing their lives so she can live. She ends up at the house of two young brothers, who live alone – the only servant is a young boy who is never seen. She is cold, scared, and confused. But she soon learns that she is one of a few select, chosen ones who are part of the good side on the balance scale of good and evil, but someone is systematically assassinating them, and they are all that is left, and until they can find out who is doing this, no more will be brought and raised into this role of protector. And so begins her training in the arts of fighting and defending herself against demons and other beings from the dark side. It’s an interesting take on the angel meme, but what bothered me was the complete lack of adherence to any of the Victorian rules of etiquette. She is 16 – girls that age do not even spend a few minutes in the company of gentlemen unrelated to them without a female chaperone. She should be in mourning and seclusion for her parents and wear black and a veil. While seclusion may be difficult during this time of siege, black would be adhered to. She lives in the house without a woman, no cook, housekeeper, maid or chaperone, although there seems to be enough money to hire one, and she goes to some men’s tailors for new clothes, since hers were burned in the fire, allowing the tailors, men, to measure her, and make everything a young girl needs. No young girl would go out with two young men, unescorted by a woman, and got to a man’s clothing establishment and be touched and measured by men. And in their mode of travel through light, she allows one of the young men to hold her close, and eventually to kiss her. Again – not done. Only a hand at the waist with distance during a dance and with chaperones watching is allowed, and no kissing until after an engagement, or perhaps a small stolen one just before. I know a lot about the customs of that age, and it just upset me that all were overturned so easily, as if it were 2012, rathe than the late 1800s. So easy to fix, and add, and not detract from the story – I have read several YA novels of Victorian times where most of the conventions were observed. So three stars, to me, is a little high, but I take into account my age and experience, which a younger reader might have no knowledge of. Although at that age, I was well aware of what was expected of a young lady in Regency and Victorian times.

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