Justine Musk's "BloodAngel" is a dark fantasy, yes. But it's not just a sugar-coated treat that dissolves on your tongue and is quickly forgotten; it's filled with images and themes that will linger long after you finish the book.
This, in my mind, is what elevates it above many of the dark fantasy novels on the shelves. Most are filled with plenty of sex, violence and supernatural happenings--but don't have anything of real substance to say. The sex, violence and supernatural happenings are mere window dressing, meant to titillate. And granted, that's all some readers want. But again, there's a depth in "BloodAngel" that makes it much more satisfying, giving all these traditional titillations (and a few not-so-traditional ones) more meaning.
You'll find blood pulsing throughout this book in all its literal and metaphorical forms (all the more satisfying, since this is NOT a vampire novel). Literal blood is here, for fans of the horrific. But Musk also explores concepts tied to this central image--blood oaths, blood lines, blood feuds, blood pacts, blood atonement.
The plot revolves around Jess Shepard and, to a lesser degree, Ramsey. But in my mind, the most haunting character is Lucas, a man who embodies the human condition: wanting to do what is honorable and right, yet giving in to base desires, and refusing to pull himself out of his fallen state because he, on some level, feels he deserves to suffer.
And even though the author creates a mix of so many disparate elements (everything from grunge rock to drug culture to ballet), she never lets it overpower the story or the message. Musk is an author in total control of her material. Her style is something to behold: her writing has a rhythm, a cadence, that adds to the story's sense of darkness and foreboding.
In short, "BloodAngel" is a bloody good read.