Schuyler Van Alen is running out of time. The Dark Prince of Hell is storming the Gates of Paradise, intent on winning the heavenly throne for good. This time he has his greatest angels by his side, Abbadon and Azrael—Jack and Mimi Force, as they are known in the Coven.
Or so he thinks. Even as Lucifer assigns Jack and Mimi the tasks of killing their true loves, the Force twins secretly vow to defeat the Dark Prince once and for all. But how far will Mimi and Jack go to conceal their real loyalties?
Meanwhile, former vampire Bliss Llewellyn has joined forces with Lawson, the greatest wolf of the underworld, to free his people from their imprisonment in Hell. As they struggle against impossible odds, an ancient message, woven into the very fabric of time, reveals just how much depends on the success of their mission.
Lucifer seeks the key to the Gate of Promise, and when Schuyler is taken captive and delivered straight to Hell, she must make an unthinkable choice—the same one the archangel Michael was forced to make during the Crisis in Rome. Will Schuyler find the strength to do what he could not?
My very first experience with a Blue Bloods novel occurred around the time of the first Smart Chicks tour. One of my former students adored the series, and begged me to bring her copies of the series (at that point it was at #4). A very long day later, I had signed copies from a multitude of wonderful authors for my library, and an extremely happy student, eagerly anticipating #5 a month later. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I ended up getting the whole series (thus far) for the library, and I’ve been reading them ever since. I guess you can say that this review is dedicated to J – thanks for the introduction, clever lady!
The Blue Bloods series has been called “Gossip Girls meets Angelic Twilight” and there is certainly an element of opulence to the stories. Schuyler Van Alen and her vampiric crew travel the globe, staying in lush hotels and genteel century homes, attending balls and charity events like any well-heeled family. The difference here is the addition of the eternal struggle between good and evil – quite literally, as some of the characters have worked for Heaven and Hell over the centuries. I won’t go into details – if you are reading book seven, there’s a good chance that you know the details, and the bigger question is whether Melissa de la Cruz has wrapped up her series to the satisfaction of her legions of devoted fans.
There won’t be spoilers with this review; I’ll save that for my upcoming interview with Melissa de la Cruz later this week. Suffice to say the fans will not be disappointed. Be warned though: there is a LOT going on in this book, as we touch base with Schuyler, Oliver, Kingsley, Bliss, Jack, Mimi et al – and with such a large cast, the action jumps from place to place and perspective to perspective. The mystery of Schuyler’s past is finally resolved – an ending that has cleverly been teased throughout the series – and de la Cruz’ planning is evident in the interweaving of the Wolf Pack story into this one. The journey to the Gates of Paradise and the final battle with Lucifer is at hand, and it’s time for Schuyler to live up to her destiny as foretold in the first book of the series.
What impressed me most about this book, and about the whole series is how the characters have truly evolved over the course of the book(s). They have never been ‘just’ entitled prep school kids – after all, these are vampires reincarnated from fallen angels, but it’s fascinating to see how the mythology and the characters have continued to grow. The final book is no exception, as we see Jack and Mimi struggling with their broken hearts and double agent status. In fact … I have a confession: Kingsley and Mimi have been my favourite couple for several books now, and as for Oliver … sigh. He’s had the most difficult struggle of anyone in the books in my opinion, and I will admit to being incredibly happy with his story. I was unexpectedly moved by Michael and Gabrielle’s storyline in this book, and it certainly led to some great discussion questions between the author and I!
To me, Schuyler has always been exactly as she appeared in book one – the outsider, who has been our guide as she discovered more and more about her heritage and history. As the one destined to lead the Blue Bloods and the one unique to her kind – a mix of human and Blue Blood, but in reality so much more – she was our voice as readers. She, like the other characters, matured a great deal over the series, and was a different person by the final book. However, this means that her desires were different from the others, and she behaved differently; I had a few moments where I wanted her to stay focused on the battle, and to spend a little less time researching her family, but her journey was completely understandable. It is only by understanding who she was that she was able to move forward to become the salvation everyone required.
I recognize that this review is vague; however, as the final book in the series, there is much that could be spoiled and I would hate to ruin the ending for someone who has waited patiently for all the good bits! Let me just summarize by saying that the faithful will most definitely enjoy this final book in the Blue Bloods saga – and for those of you who haven’t started, you can now read a great new-to-you series in its entirety!
Gates of Paradise is published in Canada by Hachette Book Group, and is available to purchase from Indigo, Amazon and your friendly independent bookseller. It was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 368 pages and ISBN: 9781423179122