After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.
A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.
First I would like to extend my appreciation to NetGalley and Zondervan publishers for allowing me to review such a fantastic book! I had high expectations when putting HALFLINGS on my TBR and I have to say that Heather Burch did not disappoint! Halflings is a high paced novel packed full of action, mystery, suspense and romance that anyone with a love for celestial reads will enjoy. However, I must throw out one disclaimer: Halflings will thoroughly hold you captive. I finished it in one sitting and now I want to kick myself for reading it so quickly. I am eagerly waiting for Guardians’ release in September!
Mace, Raven, and Vine are celestial beings; half human, half angel. Their mere existence is a direct result of rebellion. “The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair and took them as wives …” Orphans, misfits, lost boys; they have many names, but hold no claim to a home. Denied access to the Heavenly realms, and banned from earth, the lost boys’ closest claim is the in-between. Their only chance of redemption is to side with Heaven and devote their life as a guardian over their charges whose lives are at risk of Hell’s destruction.
Nikki Youngblood is the current charge under the care of the misfit Halflings. For reasons unknown to all involved, Nikki is on Hell’s hit list. Mace, Raven, and Vine are charged to protect her without making their presence known; a rule that is broken from the beginning. When Mace allows himself to come within close proximity of Nikki in order to save her from a pack of hell hounds, he loses more than his secret identity. He loses his heart … a risk that may result in losing his very soul.
Nikki Youngblood is an amazing protagonist. I related to her on so many levels that it was easy to fall into her shoes while reading this story. Nikki is a down to earth girl who doesn’t like to draw attention. She is quiet, and intelligent. She is an artist, practices martial arts, and loves to go for a ride on her motorcycle. She isn’t a superficial girl. She doesn’t care much for the latest fashions or dolling herself up to attract boys. She has a solid head on her shoulders and shows a lot of maturity for her age. What I loved most about Nikki is that she is a fighter. She doesn’t accept defeat. She responds quickly under pressure and in dangerous situations her first instinct is survival. Most endearing is her ability to love unconditionally. But there is more to Nikki than all these amazing human qualities. She has supernatural powers as well. As time progresses, more emerge. I have my suspicions on her true identity, regardless of what her label happens to be in this first installment!
Mace won me over from the first chapter. There is an innocence, or purity, to his heart in how he sees Nikki that is so appealing. He is drawn to her from their very first encounter and finds himself willing to protect her in ways that the rules won’t permit. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that he is falling for her. He is faced with the toughest of choices, knowing to love her might possibly mean eternal damnation.
Raven is the bad boy with baggage. He doesn’t really care about his soul, as he is convinced he is already damned. He has allowed his lot in life to sour his view of his purpose. During each journey he had made choices that have brought him closer to crossing over into hell’s army. So when he realizes he is falling for Nikki, he doesn’t hold back. Honestly, there were times I wanted to slap him out of his self-deprecating, “woe is me” mode as it got old, quick. However, he had some really redeeming moments and I’m left to believe that there may be hope for him yet!
There are more noteworthy characters to talk about but I only have time for one more quick mention: Damon Vessler. His entrance into the story is a bit unnerving, automatically raising questions about his character and motives. Picture a young looking, well kept, middle-aged man who has power, money, and a very charismatic personality to win over the public. However, to someone who is well discerning, this man comes off as pure evil with motives of self-gain. Fans of The Lying Games will appreciate this … My mental picture of Damon Vessler is Adrian Pasdar’s character, Alec Rybak of The Lying Games. Ewww.
The story takes place in Missouri, though I have to say that the setting of the book was the least memorable aspect of the book. Don’t get me wrong, Heather Burch does a remarkable job describing the setting in a way that makes it easy to visualize. However, due to the nature of this particular novel, the action takes the forefront. Anything more would have taken from the plot and weighed down the pacing, so I felt in that aspect the setting wasn’t as high of a priority.
The pacing for the majority of the book was fantastic. It pulled me in from the very first sentence and I couldn’t put it down until the end. However, when I got to the very last chapter, I knew it was either going to leave me with a doozy of a cliffhanger, or it was going to fall a little short. I was praying for a really great cliffhanger and ended up disappointed. I was left with a heavy case of whiplash from our protagonist, Nikki. I was disappointed but certain in the direction she was headed in her attempts to put the needs of the Halflings above her own … and then she had a split second change of heart. Though I was ecstatic with her choice, I was disappointed in how quickly it was over. It was just a bit too underdeveloped for me.
I am a big fan of books written in the perspective of multiple characters … so I was really pleased to see this is the style that Heather Burch chose when writing Halflings. Not only did it give me multiple angles of the story to view, but it helped me to connect to each of the characters on a more personal level. Her writing was smooth, easy to follow and very well balanced.
I am so pleased that I have another great series to add to my shelf! If you have a love for celestial fantasy, I would highly recommend giving Halflings a shot. It is a quick, easy, and fun read. Heather Burch adds a new twist to Angelic lore that makes it fresh and enjoyable! I can NOT wait for Guardians to be released this fall!