Dark Angel

Dark Angel, the fourth Night World book, follows Gillian Lennox, a teenage girl who has a near-death experience and wakes up with her own 'guardian angel' living in her head. Throughout the book, Angel helps Gillian to realise her dreams of being popular. Once he has gained her trust he starts to teach her about witchcraft and, eventually, leads her into The Black Iris, a Night World club. Gillian immediately realises that she has made a mistake and begins to panic. She allows herself to be escorted out of the club by a stranger that she can't see. As soon as she is outside, she panics again, afraid of what will happen next.

Luckily for her, the stranger is the newly-reformed Ash Redfern:

"The person who'd been holding her was a boy
a few years older than Gillian. He was lanky
and elegant, with ash-blonde hair and slightly
tilted eyes. Something about the the way he
held himself made her think of lazy predatory
animals." (p149)

Our first glimpse of Ash is remarkably similar to descriptions given in Secret Vampire and Daughters of Darkness. He is immediately presented as a different 'type' than the other patrons of The Black Iris. His face, as perceived by Gillian, isn't "wrong" like the others she had seen. Instead, it was "set and grim, maybe even a little scary, but it wasn't evil". Even though Gillian immediately feels that Ash is not a 'bad-guy', it is still obvious that he has a certain edge that a normal human might not.

Interestingly, we are told that Ash's voice was "rapid and short", a very similar description to ones found in Secret Vampire. It seems that Ash may not have given up his persuasive fast-talk.

Ash is extremely annoyed at Gillian for entering the club and shows it in his brisk manner, but he does not threaten her. He tells her that the others in the club are not as "tolerant" of humans as he is. There is a pause before he says "tolerant" as he searches for the right word. Is Ash truly tolerant of humans or is he just trying to be more accepting? I feel its more likely that he's still trying to be tolerant of humans.

Gillian questions his professed tolerance, asking why he should be more accepting than the others. In response, Ash gives her an "odd" look and smiles - "It was a lazy smile, but with something heart-wrenching behind it." His answer is simple:

"'I met a human girl last summer,' he said
quietly, and that seemed to explain everything." (p151)

This passage recalls one of L.J. Smith's favourite descriptive terms for Ash - "lazy" - and it also reminds us of Mary-Lynnette and the events of Daughters of Darkness.

Ash's appearance in Dark Angel is interesting as it shows Ash on the path to redemption. It is quite obvious that he hasn't yet succeeded in making himself a better person. The most obvious indication of this is the fact that he was in The Black Iris to begin with. The Black Iris is a Night World club filled with people who hate humans. So what exactly was Ash Redfern, he-with-a-human-soulmate, doing in such a disreputable place? To me, Ash shows up in a Night World club because Ash is trying to fight what he has always known. It is very easy to say that he doesn't think of humans as 'vermin' and that he wants to be a better person, but where is he supposed to start?

I think that Ash was finding it difficult to let go of the values he had held since a child. This is backed up by his annoyance at Gillian's appearance. He doesn't waste any time rescuing her, but he lets her know that he's not particularly happy about it and also talks to her like she's an idiot. It is possible to say that Ash talks to Gillian like she is a lower creature, and one on whom he has no desire or obligation to waste his time on. His brief appearance in Dark Angel seems to show the battle waging within Ash. Does he really want to give up the Night World? Does he really not think humans are vermin?

The transition from so-called 'bad' Ash to 'good' Ash is not as straightforward as it seems. This book shows a confused Ash, just starting on the path to redemption and not necessarily sure that he should even be on the path to begin with. Perhaps, he finds things all the more confusing because Mary-Lynnette, the human who showed him true love, sent him away. He isn't supposed to think of humans as dirt, but the only human he's ever loved doesn't want to see him. Not exactly the supportive foundation he needs for his quest, is it?

North American Cover First UK Cover New UK Cover, 2001

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