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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





RATING: 7/10