This review will cover all three books in the ‘Archangel Academy Series’ which are, in order; Unnatural, Unwelcome, and Unafraid. There won’t be any spoilers.
The main character, Michael Howard, is a boy from Nebraska. After his mother’s apparent suicide he goes with his father to England where he is put in an all boys boarding school called, you guessed it; The Archangel Academy. With a title like that, you might believe this story involves angels, or fallen angels and it kinda does, but mostly it’s about vampires.
However, there’s a twist. Michael’s love interest, Ronan, is a special kind of vampire. He’s a “water vamp,” that is, a water vampire. He is part of a breed of vampires who get their strength from a magical well in a cave on the Irish coast somewhere. This means they can walk in sunlight and don’t actually drink blood. Meanwhile, normal vampires are a thing, but they can also walk in sunlight on the Academy grounds.
The plot is basically that there is a war between normal vampires and the water hybrid vampires. Normal vampires are jealous of the water vamps and want to take their power.
There’s a lot of teen angst and misunderstandings in these books. Overdramatic inner monologues and such. The plot moves a little slowly in the first book, but picks up in the second and third. Reviews at Barnes&Noble.com as well as GoodReads call it a gay version of Twilight, but I think that’s doing a disservice to Griffo’s series.
One of the things that sets this apart from other YA vampire romances is that Michael and Ronan’s relationship is never called into question. What I mean is that, unlike the entirety of Meyer’s New Moon, Ronan never tries to leave Michael. Even after the disastrous way Ronan turns Michael into a water vampire, Michael doesn’t leave Ronan. Their relationship is a focal point of the novel, but in such a way as to show its strength and how people who love each other communicate and reassure one another of their affections. The plot is formed outside of their relationship rather than around it, and that’s refreshing in a genre where the main conflict is the vampirism of one love interest.
The writing itself is nothing special. The books are written in third person and switch to different points of view throughout. That was my main gripe with the series. The style is choppy and the POV switches are sudden and at times hard to follow. I read all three books in quick succession, so by the third book I had kind of acclimated to the style, but it was frustrating.
Overall, it was nice to have a gay protagonist, but the series could have been better. It could have been written better, there could have been more world building around the magical well and how these water vampires came to be. It was original and enjoyable, but a little predictable when it came to the direction the plot took with the war between vampires.
I would recommend this series if you like twists on vampire lore or gay romances. But I would suggest getting it from a library, not buying it.