The usual Pocket Books
historian's note tells us that Soul Trade takes place in the first
half of season one, although its place in the Angel chronology
can be pinned down to between The Bachelor Party and Hero.
That, and the cover, tells
us that Pocket Books still haven't progressed beyond the original line-up
of Angel, Doyle and Cordelia, and unsurprisingly it's Doyle's vision that
lead the trio into a story of soul stealing demons.
More specifically, the
vision shows Aubrey Bentone, whose father clears his gambling debts by
selling his daughter's soul.
At first this appears to
be little more than the familiar tale of stealing the victims' life-forces
that we've seen in the likes of Charmed: I've Got You Under My Skin. However, the soul-stealing aspect means that Angel has a more personal
reason for solving the case, while the uniqueness of his soul allows for
some extra development towards the end of the novel.
In many ways, Soul Trade
reads like one of Sniegoski's Angel comic strips, with its early
introduction to some of the the guest characters, followed by a fight
scene involving Angel (Doyle is otherwise engaged!)
The two main guest characters
are quite well developed - certainly no worse than in many other novels
- while the fact that their minions are pretty faceless is deliberate
for a change.
The regulars fare similarly
well, with the usual aspects of their characters highlighted, although
the scenes involving Angel's sister were a little clichéd. Still,
at least it makes a change from having the current case cause flashbacks
from Angel's past, which has been one of the more annoying aspects of
the Angel novels as a whole. Although at one point Angel
does reflect on the Black Death, which I would have thought was rather
before his time!
Doyle's ex Harry gets a
look-in (as she does in a couple of the comic strips), and there's a nice
nod to the often made comparison between Angel and Batman.
The Angel novels
have been consistently enjoyable so far, and Soul Trade is no exception. However, I can't say I'll be too disappointed when the range finally moves
beyond Hero. back to the top