Title: No Angel
Author: Daniel Kaine
Cover Artist: Mari Fanning
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link No Angel
Genre: Paranormal M/M Romance
Rating: 4.75 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A fresh approach to a coming of age novel that looks unflinchingly at the prejudices that exist within us all.
Blurb: Born with a birth defect called Devil Syndrome, it is impossible for Josh Harper to hide the two small stumps of hornlike bone atop his head. If people also knew about his ability to create force fields with his mind, they’d lock him up for sure. Left to fend for himself on his eighteenth birthday, Josh tries to make it on the streets. When he’s attacked, he’s rescued by Sam Mitchell, who has an equally strange power—and a set of pure white wings.
Sam ran away from home a year ago, and the new life he’s built for himself includes living in an abandoned house and looking after three younger kids, all with Devil Syndrome. Then along comes Josh. After a rough start their relationship grows and the two young men find a haven in each other’s arms. But when tragedy strikes their newfound family, Sam’s hatred of regular humans spirals out of control, and Josh will have to make Sam see sense before everything he’s worked so hard to build is destroyed.
Review: Author Daniel Kaine has already established himself as an excellent author of the paranormal genre with his Daeva series. Now he tackles a coming of age theme and opts to give it his own special twist in the novel, No Angel. It focuses mainly on two young men, Sam and Josh, who have been thrown together along with a few other younger kids due to one unifying factor, their extraordinary special abilities. From the gift of invisibility, to seeing the future, this ragtag group lives on the very edge of society, marginalized not only because of their strange powers but also because of the physical manifestation that indicates they are different, a pair of small horns atop their head.
This physical anomaly sets them apart, causing people to not only fear them but cruelly bully and, worse, dismiss them as nothing but useless garbage that does not deserve to be seen. So they lurk in an abandoned building, trying to eke out an existence together, to survive living on the streets where no one helps, no one cares, no one truly sees the pain they must endure at being outcast from society.
It is Sam who finds Josh, newly kicked out from the abusive home of an aunt and uncle who promised to care for him after his mother died from cancer. Josh is being set upon by two homeless men intent on beating him and stealing the few possessions he has with him. Before his disbelieving eyes, Josh watches as Sam transforms into some form of avenging angel, complete with wings and then brutally beats the two men senseless, rescuing Josh and bringing him home to the others. Thus begins their life together living on the streets.
However, Josh quickly realizes that Sam can barely keep his anger in check and especially not when any of the others under Sam’s care are threatened by outsiders. In one of many dark moments where Josh or one of the others are bullied, the act of bullying is taken to a whole new level and one of their own is mortally wounded. Now Josh must do all he can to keep Sam from exposing them all in his lust for revenge or Josh may lose not only the first real friend he has ever had, but the boy he may very well be falling in love with as well.
I found No Angel to be a remarkably well crafted story, a paranormal that stands outside the box and, for once, chooses to focus on the humanity within these special kids rather than just their unique powers. This novel is about survival and finding your way in a world that loves to destroy anyone who is different, making them a social pariah or, worse, invisible.
Author Daniel Kaine opts to focus on how bullying can become violent to the point of destruction, but he does so by wrapping it up in a fast, action packed story with characters that are achingly real and vulnerable. Josh, so abused by his uncle and dismissed by his aunt has never felt the hand of friendship, always living on the fringe, despised and alone. When Sam reaches out to him, he can barely believe that for the first time someone actually cares about him, loves him. And Sam, poor Sam, who has suffered such disappointment over the abandonment of his parents, and has turned that grief inward only to have it fester into the anger that so often threatens to consume him. These two come together in the sweetest of discoveries of first love and lasting friendship and burrow into your heart so quickly as this story unfolds.
Perhaps the only drawback to this sweet and carefully crafted novel is the too rapid resolution. While I had no problem with the way in which the author chose to wrap this story up, I felt that it could have had just a bit more time on the page, perhaps to see Sam struggle just a bit more with the tremendous changes that occur in his life. However, this was really a minor note in an otherwise compelling and beautifully written story about first love.
Once again, author Daniel Kaine develops a world that draws us in and gives us a story that stays with us well beyond the final words on the page. No Angel is an excellent coming of age novel and an exciting addition to the paranormal genre.