Breath of Angel (Angelaeon Circle Series #1)

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Overview

The stranger’s cloak had fallen back, and with it, a long, white, blood-stained wing.
 
When Melaia, a young priestess, witnesses the gruesome murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard, age-old legends recited in song suddenly come to life. She discovers wings on the stranger, and the murderer takes...
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Overview

The stranger’s cloak had fallen back, and with it, a long, white, blood-stained wing.
 
When Melaia, a young priestess, witnesses the gruesome murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard, age-old legends recited in song suddenly come to life. She discovers wings on the stranger, and the murderer takes the shape of both a hawk and a man.
 
Angels. Shape-shifters. Myths and stories—until now.
 
Melaia finds herself in the middle of a blood feud between two immortal brothers who destroyed the stairway to heaven, stranding angels in the earthly realm. When Melaia becomes a target, she finds refuge with a band of angels attempting to restore the stairway. But the restoration is impossible without settling an ancient debt—the “breath of angel, blood of man,” a payment that involves Melaia’s heart, soul, and destiny.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Breath of Angel

“Karyn Henley spins a lyrical young-adult tale of mythical and legendary beings, of reimagined angels and terrifying malevolents, in a small kingdom where the world’s fate rests on a young priestess’s shoulders.”
—Kathy Tyers, author of Shivering World and the Firebird series

“Karyn Henley’s novel starts with a jolt, grabs the reader by the collar, and doesn’t slow down one minute. This author infuses her text with imagery, suspense, and a cast that will appeal to all ages. In addition, it has a feeling that I can only describe as “folklorish,” with all the best elements that come with that—music, magic, and mystery. I think it’s destined to become a classic.”
—Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath, National Book Award finalist, Newbery Honor Book, PEN USA Award

“This lusciously written fantasy has it all: epic battles, earthbound angels, immortal humans, and a bright, engaging heroine. Henley’s young priestessturned-warrior is forced to put her past together like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces so sharp they cut. Her story is nearly impossible to forget, so readers will be eager for more!”
—Louise Hawes, author of Black Pearls: a Faerie Strand, AAUW Juvenile Literature Award nominee; Gold Award, Hall of Fame, teensreadtoo.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307730121
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/21/2011
  • Series: Angelaeon Circle Series , #1
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Karyn Henley
Award-winning author Karyn Henley has written over one hundred titles. An accomplished songwriter, Karyn has been a Dove Award nominee and received a regional Emmy Award as music composer for a television special. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, a jazz drummer.
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Read an Excerpt

Breath of Angel

A Novel
By Karyn Henley

WaterBrook Press

Copyright © 2011 Karyn Henley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307730121

The prick of the thorn drew blood, but Melaia smiled. The last ramble rose of the season was well worth a pierced  thumb. She carefully drew the blossom from the vine that clung to the side of the temple. As she breathed its rich, sweet scent, she sensed someone watching and looked up, expecting to see one of the novice priestesses. She saw only dry leaves skittering across the flagstones of the walled courtyard, along with a black feather, no doubt from a bird scavenging seeds in the woodpile.

Then a haggard young man stepped through the gate, and Melaia drew back. The chill autumn breeze riffled the edge of his dirt-stained cloak, revealing the corner of a journey pack and the hilt of a dagger.

Melaia gave him a tentative nod.

“I’ve come—” His voice was dirt dry. He wiped his fist across his mouth.

“I’ll fetch water.” Melaia tucked the rose into her waist sash and headed for the stone urn by the arched doorway. "Travelers are always welcome at our temple. We’ve pallets if you wish to stay the night.” She would have to check
with the high priestess, but Hanni rarely turned away weary travelers.

“My thanks,” the man croaked.

Melaia flipped back her loose honey brown braid and dipped a pottery cup into the cool water. “I’m chantress here, always eager to hear new tales from travelers.”

The young man looked too weary to tell tales. Or too ill. His dark-ringed eyes darted from one afternoon shadow to another, and he cocked his head as if he heard something beyond the walls.

“We’re healers here as well,” she offered.

For a moment his wild eyes focused on her. Then he glanced above her head, and his hand went to his dagger.

But he never drew it.

A hawk, larger than any she’d ever seen, shot like an arrow past Melaia and sank its talons into the stranger’s chest. The man’s raw screams pierced the air as the hawk’s beak knifed at his throat.

Melaia stood stunned and speechless. But as the hawk flapped its great wings and lifted the man a handbreadth off the flagstones, her senses surged back.

She snatched a branch from the woodpile and swung it at the hawk. The raptor screeched and dropped the stranger. “Fight!” she yelled at him. “Fight back!”

But it was the hawk that fought, its wings beating at her stick as its claws snagged the man again. At last Melaia struck a solid blow to the hawk’s head, and it skidded sideways. She chased after it, but the raptor took to the air, quickly rose, and soared away over the domed roof of the temple.

Melaia flung aside the stick and fell to her knees by the bloodied man.

Then she covered her mouth and swallowed a bitter taste. “Most High, have mercy,” she croaked. Seeing wounds so deep and blood flowing freely, she wasn’t surprised that the stranger’s mistlike spirit had emerged from his body. As a death-prophet, she could see the shadowy echo writhing around his form as he struggled to live.

“Mellie? Is it safe?” Dark-eyed Iona stood in the temple doorway, holding back the other two novices. At fourteen, she was the motherly one, although Melaia was two years older. Curly-haired Peron, still baby plump at six, peered around Iona, clutching her skirts, while twelve-year-old Nuri broke away from them and ran across the yard, her usual dimpled smile gone.

“Is he dead?” Nuri asked.

“Not yet,” Melaia told her. “Take Peron and fetch a basket of plumwort. And water.”

Nuri stared at the man’s wounds. “We saw the hawk.”

“Go!” said Melaia. “I need plumwort to stanch the bleeding.”

As Nuri dashed away, Melaia wondered why the high priestess hadn’t appeared.

“Where’s Hanni?” she called to Iona.

“Summoned to a birthing. The weaver’s wife.” Iona nervously twisted the end of her black braid.

“Then come help me carry the man inside.”

Melaia hesitated. She was often called to the bedside of the dying to confirm the moment of death, but never had she been required to reach through a spirit to touch someone. Of course, other people did it all the time, she told herself. They just couldn’t see the struggling, mistlike layer. She took a deep breath, grasped the man’s bloodied cloak, and pressed it to the gashes in his chest. His spirit pooled around her wrists, vibrating like a throat quivering with speech.

“Can you hear me?” Melaia asked, keeping pressure on his wound.

The stranger’s spirit thrummed frantically, as if he were trying to say something.

“Where’s the plumwort?” Melaia yelled.

Nuri ran across the yard, sloshing a jar of water. Peron trotted behind her with the basket of plumwort. Iona knelt at the man’s feet, her mouth moving silently in prayer.

Melaia reached for the plumwort, but the man’s spirit slid off his body, thinned into a stream, and seeped through a crack in the flagstones. A sudden, grim silence fell over the yard. Melaia shook her head at Nuri and Peron and closed the man’s green-flecked eyes.

Peron stuck out her lower lip. “I was too slow.”

“No, I was.” Nuri’s shoulders drooped.

“No one’s at fault,” said Melaia, but she couldn’t help thinking that the man might still be alive if she had only laid into the hawk sooner. “Let’s get him inside.” She lifted his upper body. For his bulk he was surprisingly light.

Iona lifted his legs. “Starved twig-thin,” she said. “Poor man.”

They carried the stranger to the sanctuary altar, the bier for those who could afford no better. Melaia took a deep breath, wishing Hanni were there. “Iona, find me a winding-sheet,” she said. “Peron, go with Nuri. Fetch more water and scrub the courtyard.”

“But it’s bloody,” said Nuri. Peron wrinkled her nose.

“Would you rather clean the man’s body?” asked Melaia. Nuri and Peron scrambled out the door. Iona followed.

Melaia gently eased the man’s cloak from his chest and winced, wondering where Hanni would begin. She exhaled slowly. “Start with the easiest,” she murmured.

She untangled his pack from one forearm. As she slipped it free, she noticed the end of a small scroll clenched in his fist. “First the pack,” she told herself, glancing around. Her gaze fell on a shelf of incense bowls. She stashed the pack there, then turned back to the altar-bier and froze.

The stranger’s cloak had fallen back and, with it, a long, white, bloodstained wing.

Melaia’s knees almost buckled. “An angel?” she whispered. It couldn’t be. Angels were found only in legends. Chanters’ stories. Bedtime tales.

Iona’s voice echoed down the corridor. “Do we need more water?”

Melaia jerked the cloak back around the man.

Iona strode in with a bundle of white linen. “Do we need more water?”

“We need Hanni,” said Melaia.

“You look as if you’ve seen the man’s ghost.” Iona looked around. “Has he returned?”

“Just go get Hanni.”

Distant drums signaled the closing of Navia’s city gates and the change of watch on the walls. On the altar-bier in the temple, the winged man lay serene and clean, covered in white linen up to his chin. Melaia didn’t often sit with the dead, but as she lit the oil lamps behind the bier, she decided that tonight she would request a vigil. She hoped the high priestess would join her, for she had a night’s worth of questions to ask.

But so far, the high priestess hadn’t returned. She had sent Iona back to say that the birthing was a difficult one and she must stay with it, although she was upset at the news of a death in the side yard. Hanni intended to stop by the
overlord’s villa and bring his advisor, Benasin, back to the temple with her.

As Melaia held the flaming twist of rushweed to the last wick, she eyed the three girls munching their supper on a reed mat across the room. With Hanni gone they had asked to stay with Melaia instead of eating in the hearthroom down the hall. She was glad for their company. She felt as shaky as they did, although she hadn’t told them about the stranger’s wings. She wanted Hanni’s opinion first.

Melaia tossed the spent rushweed into the brazier in the center of the room and stirred the coals into flame. For a moment she watched the smoke curl up and drift like a dying spirit out through the roof hole above. Except dying
spirits always drifted down, not up.

“I’m saving my scraps for the chee-dees,” Peron said, scooping her crumbs into a tiny hill.

“Fetch your crumb jar from the storeroom, then,” said Melaia. “When you’ve finished cleaning up, I’ll tell a story.”

Peron stared warily at the dark corridor that lay beyond the bier.

“I’ll go with you.” Nuri slipped one of the lamps from its niche. With an uneasy smile she guided Peron to the corridor, giving wide berth to the bier. Iona stoppered the olive oil. “Peron is telling tales again. This time it’s about two falcons scaring away her songbird friends.”

“She must have been inspired by the hawk in the yard today.” Melaia stacked the empty wooden bowls and glanced at the stranger who should have eaten a meal with them tonight.

“Peron said the falcons were darker than closed eyes,” said Iona.

“I can picture that.” Melaia lifted her harp from its peg.

“And they had people hands.” Iona rolled her eyes.

“That I can’t picture,” said Melaia. “Too ghoulish.”

Iona laughed. “With such an imagination Peron will surely become a chantress.”

A shriek came from the corridor. Peron darted into the room, hugging her crumb jar, with Nuri on her heels. Both girls were open-mouthed and wide-eyed.

Behind them limped a sharp-nosed, beardless man wearing a cloak fashioned completely of feathers—brown, black, and an iridescent blue that glinted in the lamplight. The skin around one of his round gold eyes was blackened, and a scratch jagged across his brow.

Melaia went cold, head to toe. How had the man entered? Had she left the side door unbolted?

Nuri and Peron ran to Iona, and all three huddled by the wall. Melaia stifled her impulse to join them. Hanni had left her in charge, so in charge she would be. She had fought off a murdering hawk. She had prepared a bloody winged man for burial. She would stand up to this intruder.

She strode to the brazier, her hands clammy as she clung to her harp. “This is the temple of the Most High,” she said, hoping he wouldn’t hear the quaver in her voice.

“So it is,” he hissed, limping to the bier. “I believe I noticed that.”

“What’s your business here?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Surely you’re not the high priestess.”

“She’s the chantress,” blurted Peron.

“Ah. Singer of songs, soother of sorrows,” he crooned.

“If you’re here for our treasury box, take it and be on your way,” said Melaia.

“I have unfinished business with the high priestess,” he said.

“You can find her at the overlord’s villa,” said Melaia.

“No doubt.” With a gloved hand he slid back the sheet that covered the corpse. He smiled at the gashes, then studied Melaia. “Chantress, play your harp for me.”

Melaia gaped at him. “You have no right—”

“Or let me play it,” he said. “The little girl can bring it. The one who feeds the birds.”

Peron’s eyes grew round as the supper bowls, and she shrank behind Iona’s skirts.

Melaia hugged the harp tighter to her chest and glared at the man defiantly, even as she fought back a fear that curdled in the pit of her stomach. How long had this swaggerer been spying on them?

His unblinking gold eyes stared back at her. “I do not take disobedience lightly.” His voice was ice. “Send the girl with the harp or play it yourself.” Melaia swallowed dryly. She felt her courage fall as limp as the poor stranger in the yard. Keeping her eyes on the intruder, she sank to a bench by the brazier and positioned the harp in her lap.

“Let us hear the tale of the Wisdom Tree,” he said. “You know it, don’t you, Chantress?”

Melaia scowled at him and motioned for the girls to join her. As she fingered the melody, they silently gathered around, and she breathed easier. Together they were safer, with the brazier as a barrier between them and the bully.

She turned her attention back to the harp, and over the music she spoke the tale. In a time long ago, there lived a tribal chieftain whose firstborn son was a wealthy trader, his second-born a lone hunter. Each year at harvest festival, his sons vied to present him with the best gift. The Firstborn always gave perfumes, musicians, slave dancers, the treasures of his trade. The Second-born presented partridges, deerskins, lion-claw necklaces, the spoils of the hunt. But the Second-born thought his gifts paltry compared to those of the Firstborn. So he set out to seek the greatest gift of all.

Far and wide he journeyed, to no avail. At last, weary and discouraged, he lay to rest in the shade of a tree as tall and wide as the tower of a citadel. The Wisdom Tree it was, bearing fruit that granted the eater knowledge and cleverness.

Peron popped her thumb out of her mouth and chanted, “Within this tree stood the stairway to heaven made wholly of light.”

“Exactly,” said Melaia, glad that for the moment the tale was distracting Peron from the intruder, whose gold eyes held a hungry glitter. Melaia continued:

An angel named Dreia, guardian of the Tree, saw the Second son lying there and asked the cause of his despair. When he told his tale, she pitied him and gave him the juice of one fruit. “This will grant you knowledge and cleverness to find the right gift for your father,” she said. As he sipped the juice, the man’s eyes brightened. “I know the perfect gift,” he said. “A fruit from this Tree.”

Dreia hadn’t intended to give the man a whole fruit. Its seeds were precious, carried by angels into the heavens to plant wisdom trees in worlds among the stars. Yet the man was handsome, his entreaties eloquent.

At last Dreia said, “You may take one fruit if you vow to bring me the first creature that greets you when you arrive home. This I shall send over the stairway as payment. Moreover, you shall return the three seeds of this fruit, for they are strictly forbidden to mortals. Should you fail to repay your debt, the Tree itself shall exact payment in breath and
blood.”

The Second-born agreed to the bargain, for the one who always greeted his homecoming was his old hunting dog. Taking his dog and the seeds back to Dreia would be good reason to see the beautiful angel again. So he carried the fruit home.

While he was still afar off, he saw, bounding across the field to greet him, his young niece. “Uncle!” she cried. “Terrible news. Your old hunting dog has died.”

The Second-born fell to his knees and wept, not for his dog, but for his niece, the only daughter of the Firstborn, now to be payment for his debt.

Melaia paused as the intruder slipped off his gloves. His fingernails were long, curved, and sharp. Talons. Her pulse pounded at her throat. His blackened eye, his scratched brow, his feathered cloak, his limp.

She had met him before. As a hawk.

“Is there no ending to the tale?” He smirked at her recognition of him and stroked the corpse. “I favor endings.”

Melaia felt foggy, as if she were in a dream. She tried to gather her thoughts.

“The Second-born knew only one way to escape his debt,” Iona prompted.

“Yes.” Melaia cleared her throat and forced out the words.

The Second-born knew he had to destroy the Wisdom Tree. Dreia saw an army approaching, the Second son in the lead, betrayal in his heart. She gathered what angels she could. Some plucked the remaining fruit and hastened over the stairway to celestial worlds. Others stayed behind to defend the Tree. But these were not warring angels. The best they could do was save some of the wood as the Tree fell and was plundered by men who wanted pieces for themselves.

“That was the end of the stairway,” Nuri said.

“And the end of angels in our world,” added Iona.

“But the brothers planted the seeds of the Wisdom Tree,” offered Peron, “didn’t they?”

“They did.” Melaia set the harp aside. “The brothers learned that cultivating wisdom takes patience.”

The girls chimed in, “Wisdom, over time, is earned.”

The hawkman hissed. “A pitiful ending and woefully false.” He pointed a taloned finger at Melaia. “Remember this, Chantress. The Second-born abducted his niece and headed for Dreia. But fortune was with the Firstborn, for I discovered the treachery in time to rescue my daughter. To ensure that the Tree never collected on the debt, I destroyed it. My daughter and I ate the seeds, round and shiny, red as blood. We became immortal!”

“You’re trying to haunt us with our own tale.” Melaia took up a poker and stabbed the coals in the brazier, determined not to show her fear. “There were three seeds.”

“So there were,” said the hawkman. “The third I crammed down my brother’s throat. Now he owes his debt for all eternity. And it is my pleasure to make sure he never repays.” He grinned at the dead man. “Son of Dreia, this
night you are destroyed.”

He snatched up the corpse, and its wings unfolded. The girls shrieked and ran to Melaia.

The hawkman dropped the body back to the bier as if it had burned him. Then he cursed and shoved it to the floor. He scanned the room. “The man had a pack. Where is it?”

“Maybe he lost it in the side yard.” Melaia felt her face grow warm at the half lie.

But the man didn’t press his search. Instead, he stiffened and stared at the front door, his head cocked, listening. Melaia heard only wind, but the hawkman slowly retreated, tense as a cat backing away from danger. He glanced
from the door to the window to the roof hole, where smoke drifted into the night. Then he hurtled toward the brazier, and his body contorted.

All of Melaia’s instincts screamed at her to run, but she stayed her feet, clenched her jaw, and gripped the poker with both hands. As the hawk leaped into the flames, she swung with all her might.

She struck only air as he rose in the smoke and vanished.

Continues...

Excerpted from Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley Copyright © 2011 by Karyn Henley. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 57 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(16)

4 Star

(28)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(2)

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(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 26, 2012

    Unfortunately, I was very sadden by this latest book I read tit

    Unfortunately, I was very sadden by this latest book I read titled “Breath of Angel” written by, Karyn Henley. This is one of those books that as you read you are hoping it would get better and I truly wanted to be able to finish it. It began great in the first few chapters, fantasy world with dark vs light along with some human touches. Then I was lost as I continued. The characters were hard to understand and the writing didn’t seem smooth to carry me through chapter by chapter. I was so disappointed. I hate giving bad reviews on a book that someone has worked hard on, but this book wasn’t the right fit for me.

    *The opinions I have expressed are my own and I was not paid for my review, I received this book as complimentary copy from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Angels. Shape-shifters. Myths and stories¿until now.

    A cloaked stranger enters the temple courtyard and before the young priestess, Sontress Melaia, could properly welcome the stranger he is attacked by a shape-shifter, hawk and man. Melaia desperately beats the hawk with a stick to get it away from the stranger. The hawk takes off in a cloud of smoke. But to no avail the stranger had been killed and Melaia watched as his spirit left his body to disappear into the cracks of the courtyard floor. When she attempts to remove the strangers cloak, in order to prepare his body, Melaia is shocked to find a bloodied set of wings. It appears the stranger was an ANGEL.


    This is where the story gets even more intriguing. A handsome Envoy Trevin, dispatched by their King, comes to the temple and is given a very rare harp along with the Songstress Melaia as a gift to their King. It appears she is taken from her only home and has become nothing more than chattel for her King. As she is about to be presented to the King the story reveals a blood feud that is actually between two brothers and Melaia seems to be in the very center of the battle. She escapes and finds a safe haven among a band of angels. This is where the real TRUTH is revealed, and an ancient dept is to be paid, the “breath of angel, blood of man,”a payment that involves Melaia’s heart, soul, and destiny.


    This book has really peaked my interest into Angels and the different spheres of Angels.


    I highly recommend this Christian Young Adult Fantasy.


    I rated this book a 4 out of 5. Only because it was a little out of my genre. No fault of the author.


    Disclosure
    I was provided a free copy of this book by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was in no way compensated for this review it is own opinion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 20, 2011

    Great YA Fantasy

    I was excited when I received this book because I generally love this type of story. Fantasy. Young Adult. First in a series. This book did not disappoint. From the opening chapter, described in the publisher's synopsis, to the end the book moved at a good pace, not too slow and not too fast. There was plenty of details to build this world and it's characters for this book and future ones.

    The book opens with a map of the world and a cast of characters, which was very helpful because there are a lot of characters. The characters were easy to differentiate, though, and woven together skillfully so I rarely had to refer to the cast after I had started reading the story.

    The main character, Melaia, has a strong personality but not in a forced manner. I feel like some authors, in an attempt to create a more "feminist" story, create unbelievable character traits in their female characters. Not so with this one. She is out of her comfort zone and makes mistakes just like a real person would. She also shows courage and determination to accomplish her mission.

    The supporting characters were also well developed. One in particular had mystery and intrigue built in to his character development which made for an interesting subplot.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this story and am eagerly anticipating the release of book two, Eye of the Sword, in Spring 2012.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Loved it!

    I was hooked from the first chapter when the young priestess, Melaia, witnesses the murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard. Legends that she has been told since childhood suddenly come to life with the discovery of angels and shape-shifters.

    Melaia finds herself caught in the middle of a feud between two immortal brothers who destroyed the stairway to heaven, stranding angels in the earthly realm. After being tricked into giving away a very important item to one of the brothers, Melaia discovers that she is the key to repairing the stairway. She must find a way to get the items back, save her friends, and repair the stairway.

    This is the first in a series of books. As the book ends, Melaia has not yet repaired the stairway. Eye of the Sword will be coming out in Spring 2012 and I'm very much looking forward to it.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Start to a New Young Adult Angel Series

    Melaia is a young priestess that witnesses a hawk trying to kill a stranger in the temple courtyard. After she beats the hawk away, she realizes that the wounds are so bad that the stranger dies. Upon preparing the body, Melaia learns that the stranger was an angel. That evening, as she is telling a story to the younger girls, a stranger demands that she tell the story of the Wisdom Tree.

    The Wisdom Tree is the stairway to the heavens that the angels traveled on along with the souls of the departed humans. A brother goes in search of it to find a gift for his father. In the end he takes the seeds from the fruit of the tree and eats then becoming immortal then destroys the Wisdom Tree. His brother and daughter also eat the seeds. No there is an eternal battle between the brothers, one wants to rule the world and the other wants to resort the Wisdom Tree.

    The story is real and now the first son is after three harps that can restore the Wisdom Tree when joined together. After being sent to play for the dieing king, Melaia is thrust into the battle. She meets handsome Trevor whom she has unknown feeling for, but can she trust him or anyone else she meets during this journey.

    Melaia was an orphan left at the temple so she doesn't know who her parents are. She learns that there is more to herself than just being a simple priestess. But she doesn't really want to follow that path; she just wants to be left alone to her temple. I feel for her since she has been so sheltered that she doesn't understand how the rest of the world works, mainly with whom to trust.

    Melaia was very impulsive and was always rushing into danger headfirst. I did like this book and would recommend it to those that like paranormal/angel young adult stories. It is a series and does end with plenty of room for sequels.

    I received this from the Amazon Vine program to review.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hard to put down

    Angels have always been a mystery to us, and in this new series, angels are both the protectors and the deceivers. Author Karyn Henley takes readers into a world full of magic and secrets by telling the tale of one girl who has to beat all odds in order to discover who she is. It all starts with Melaia, who is a chantress in the city called Navia. A chantress has the ability to help souls such as, when someone is passing away, a chantress can play their harp and perhaps save the soul by placing it back into their body, or calm the soul as they head toward the light. Melaia witnesses a brutal murder of a young stranger by a hawk. Only later does she discover that the slayed stranger was actually an angel, and the hawk was actually a man who was involved long ago with destroying The Wisdom Tree. The Wisdom Tree is the place where angels could go back and forth between Earth and Heaven, and when the tree was destroyed, many angels were left behind - both good (Angelaeon) and bad (Malevolent). An angel named Dreia was standing guard at the Wisdom Tree, but because of two brothers - one who was truly in love with her but had to pay a 'debt' to the angels - she was locked in a family battle. What the chantress doesn't know is that she, herself, is involved with the whole legend. Life changes for Melaia as she's sent to play her harp for the melancholy King of Redcliff. It is a beautiful harp, made of material never seen around their lands anymore. And.there are three of them. Whoever possesses these three powerful instruments can rule or ruin the land. As Melaia journeys to Redcliff, she is guarded and escorted by the kingsman, Trevin. Feelings begin to form between the two of them, but are soon broken as she finds him betraying her. Why the betrayal? Trevin works for the hawk man who was the slayer of the angel. In time, Melaia must figure out who is good and who is bad as she tries to discover a way to recreate the Angelaeon's pathway. Mystery twirls around the chantress as she does her best to understand truth and faith, and to discover where she came from, who she really is, and where her heart should be. This first book in the series is an excellent piece of fantasy fiction, offering non-stop suspense and new.very illuminating characters. Every chapter seems to end with some new secret that begs the reader to continue with Melaia on her quest. Quill Says: Bring on the angels! Readers will find this fantasy hard to put down as they experience the wonders of the angelic world.

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  • Posted July 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Well-written and hard to put down

    A young chantress, an angel, a harp, and an ugly feud - elements that will hook you from the beginning of this book. Melaia simply wants to serve, to one day take her place in the temple. But, her plans are changed when a man is killed in the courtyard and she is summoned to the Overlord. As her life changes, Melaia finds herself in the midst of a troubling feud. The fact that the feud isn't between mortals disturbs her. How can she survive? What is the meaning of Benasin's harp? What is the story of the hawk? What about the angels, shape-shifters, and "myths"?

    This book was difficult to put down because the story propelled me from one place to another. The characters were interesting and the story well written. While it appears to be young adult literature, I assure you that adults will enjoy it as well. The fantasy elements fit into the opportunity to step away from everyday realism and experience a little "otherworldness." I heartily recommend this book! Thank you to the Blogging for Books program who sent me this book for a review. The words and thoughts are mine.

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Unique and Exciting

    For some reason I didn't have a lot of good expectations for this book and I let it sit on my shelf for longer than I probably should of. I knew that this was a book about angels but as far as I could tell there wasn't going to be much romance, and I'm not a fan of a story without some romance (sad but true). Anyways, when I finally picked up Breath of Angel and started reading I told myself I'd go until page 50 before I gave up, but by page 25 I knew I was going to enjoy the story and I stuck it out and loved it!

    There is a chantress, Melaia who sees a man get murdered right near the temple where she was at and once she begins to prepare the body for burial she realizes he is an angel and the thing that killed him was a hawk or other creature! Her journey begins with the discovery of the angel and her life is forever changed.

    Again I was surprised that I was truly as invested in this story as I was. While there were no romantic scenes technically there were some hints to a romance brewing in the future books which has me excited.

    This story was mostly about adventure, angels and promise made 200 yrs prior. Breath of Angel was somewhat historical and definitely fantasy, mixed with some mystery and action and adventure! The parts about the stairway to heaven were so intriguing to me that I couldn't stop thinking about it for a few days after reading this book.

    I enjoyed the characters immensely and I am really intrigued with Melaia and what her plans are for the future! She was a shy and sheltered young girl that grew along with the story into a warrior and confident person!

    Breath of Angel was an easy yet action packed read and I plan on picking up the next book in the series to see how the story continues!!

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great start to a very promising series!

    Melaia is a young priestess in Navia, in training to take over as high priestess when the current high priestess - Hanamel (Hanni) - steps down. Three younger novice priestesses tend the temple as well - Iona, who is 14; Nuri, who is 12; and Peron, who is six. One evening when Melaia is outside, a thin, disheveled-looking man staggers into the courtyard. As is the custom of the temple, she offers him rest and succor, but before he can get inside he is attacked - viciously - by a hawk, which fatally wounds him. While preparing his body for burial, Melaia discovers he has wings - he is an angel. She is astounded, because she thought angels were just a myth. Soon another man comes into the temple, threatens the priestesses and disturbs the body - saying very odd things indeed. When Hanni and Benasin - a friend and advisor to the Overlord - arrive, just in the nick of time, they are able to drive him off.

    But Melaia's adventures are just beginning - she is summoned to the Overlord, who ends up selling Benasin's harp to a kingsman as a gift for the King - and throws Melaia in as an extra bonus. She finds herself on the way to Redcliff, the kingdom's seat. Then things start to get really weird ...

    I don't want to outline any more of the plot, so as to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say that Melaia learns that what she thought she knew was mostly wrong - even about herself. She matures significantly in the course of this, the first book in the series. The second book, Eye of the Sword: A Novel (The Angelaeon Circle), is due out in 2012, so be on the lookout for that.

    I was much impressed by the story-telling ability of this author - the story flowed smoothly, transitions were clean and the characters were well-developed and interesting. Apparently this book is classified as Christian fiction, but I'm not sure why - while the religion espoused in this novel is monotheistic, it is not much like Christianity. But this book is clean - no swearing, no sex - and safe for people who are bothered by such in the books they read.

    I can recommend this book for anyone from 12 on up - under 12 I think it might be a bit scary, but it depends on the young person him- or herself. It's also a book that older readers can enjoy - an adventure, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong - all that great epic stuff is here, but done in a fairly unique way. Check it out!

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    I Very Much Recommend this book!

    Melaia finds herself in the middle of a blood feud between two immortal brothers who destroyed the stairway to heaven, stranding angels in the earthly realm. When Melaia becomes a target, she finds refuge with a band of angels attempting to restore the stairway. This story kept me interested and I couldn't stop reading it until I had finished it a few days later. I liked it a lot, even though it is not the exact genre I usually get hooked on.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    Breath of Angel - a great start

    From the back of the book -
    When Melaia, a young priestess, witnesses the gruesome murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard, age-old legends recited in song suddenly come to life. She discovers wings on the stranger, and the murderer takes the shape of both a hawk and a man.


    Angels. Shape-shifters. Myths and stories-until now.


    A young adult book, though it can easily be enjoyed by all ages. The story is of Melaia, her discovery that angels exist and that she's a key in a prophecy. An ancient feud between two brothers, the solution exists in the "breath of angel, blood of man". This is the first installment as Melaia learns what exists and doesn't. It's the start of her journey to restore the stairway to heaven and the tree that rooted it on earth. The story itself was slow to start, but picked up pace the farther in you read. A series worth following.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book

    First off, I thought that this book was really good! I was a little skeptical at first - I was expecting this to be another one of those vampires fantasy books that seem to be flying off the shelves these days. It's nothing like those! This isn't your typical fantasy book. I could not put it down once I got started. I kept wanting to read and read to see what happened next in Melaia's quest to restore The Wisdom Tree! The storyline and the characters were great. I enjoyed watching Melaia coming from her humble beginnings as a priestess to settling in her destiny. I really liked the mythical creatures as well, like the draks, birds with human hands. Not only is it a great story, but it also leaves you with a few things to think about. You learn Melaia's lessons about friendship and trust along with her.
    Not only does this book entertain, but it inspires as well.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Breath of Angel: The Angeleon Circle Book One

    "Breath of angel, blood of man..." Age-old debts demand repayment, the restoration of an ancient passage between heaven and earth hangs in the balance, and a feud between immortals and angels escalates. This and more await you in "Breath of Angel," the first book in the series, "The Angeleon Circle" by Karyn Henley. This young adult fantasy adventure features Melaia, a young priestess, whose life takes an unimaginable turn after witnessing the murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard. When she discovers wings on the victim, Melaia realizes that the myths and tales told in the temple are no longer fanciful stories...they are truth. Even though most fantasy novels are written for YA, I still enjoy the opportunity to lose myself in another world so different from our own. Karyn Henley creates just such a world, and the premise of the plot is one I hadn't encountered before. The story was a little slow to grab my attention in the beginning, but I continued reading and was glad that I did. The characters were interesting, but unfortunately, I never felt like I got to know most of them very well. All in all, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next in the series.

    I received a free copy of Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my review.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    fast paced, slightly vague-- 3.5/5

    I received an advanced copy of this book over two months ago. It's taken me that long to get through it.

    When a traveler is murdered by a hawk in the temple courtyard, myths and fantasies known to the priestest Melaia transform into reality. The stranger's cloak falls away to
    reveal the long white wings of an angel, and the hawk returns in human form to keep the stranger's mission fro, accomplishment. Shapeshifters, angels, fantasy, reality? All she has known to be mere stories, ancient mythology in songs has come to life, and Melaia is caught in the middle of a blood feud. Two immortal brothers trapped forever in conflict, responsible for destroying the staircase to Heaven and trapping angels in the earthly realm.

    This book moved really fast. It seemed a little vague and there were times that I felt as though I had missed something, like I had skipped a chapter of background.

    Breath of Angels was also very character heavy, which may not have been a problem except that they had very fanciful names and I had little information to use to help keep them straight.

    The book was well written, and well plotted. It's a nice jaunt in a world of fantasy, but I felt it was definitely written for 'young adults,' that are younger than me, and the blurb on the back didn't do a very good job at letting the reader know.

    I received a free copy of the book Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley from Waterbrook Maltnomah in exchange for my honest review

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    New Angel YA books - gotta love them!!

    The stairway to Heaven is not just a Led Zepplin song anymore. This baby is for real, and someone has closed it down, with no expectation as to when the DO NOT ENTER sign will be taken down. The souls are stuck on Earth with only one direction to go - down.

    Melaia is a priestess trained in healing. She never thought witnessing a murder would turn her whole world upside down. Soon after this fateful murder, she is bought for the king of the land. These two evens may seem a far cry from one another, but we will soon learn all parts of Melaia's fate are intertwined. She and her talents could prove useful to bring the king out of the melancholy that has gripped his heart. The kingdom is without a fully functioning king, and there is hope that Malaia will be able to cure him with the help of a special harp.

    On her way to the castle she is amazed to learn that the man who in essence "purchased" her, is stirring feelings she never considered before. As a priestess, she is allowed to have lovers and a partner, but she never thought that path was one she cared to travel down. Trevin has her completely baffled and causing knots to twist and turn in her stomach. Should a priestess get so tongue-tied over a man? And a man that she doesn't even know that she can trust! This confusion only adds to the list of mounting worries that are piling on as the seconds tick by.

    Oh yea- one thing I forgot to mention so far is the angels. When the stairway was destroyed, angels were trapped here on Earth with no way to return to their rightful place. Over the years many of them have settled down, almost content to live a human-like existence. Dreia, the guardian of the stairway, has perished, and without her, the fate of the gates to Heaven is uncertain. How does Malaia fit into this equation? Why was she pulled from her Temple and into the midst of all the conflict? Malaia is more involved than she could have ever dared to imagine. Her faith, courage, and luck will be tested at every turn. She can only pray that she makes it through alive.

    The angel story has become more popular in the last year or so, with all sorts of variation of angels and their abilities, talents, and hierarchies. This book has a very clear cut and defined organization to the angels, but some of the explanations to the angels and why some of them behaved in certain ways was unclear. It was interesting how only some of the angels had wings, while others did not possess one of the most distinguishing features most people would attribute to angels.

    The characters were likeable. Some of the relationships came off slightly two-dimensional. There is a love story going on in the background, but I had a hard time feeling the relationship blossom and grow. The passion, romance, and intrigue just seemed to be missing from this relationship. The lead protagonist, Malaia, was a very strong character. I enjoyed her stubbornness and her possession of self-identity. She always knew what she stood for and who exactly she was.

    This is the first novel in a series. I did enjoy this story enough to look forward to the continuation. This book has me vested enough in the plot line to want to know what happens to the smallest drak (these creatures will give you chills). I am hoping the characters in the next installment show their true colors and give that extra spice and excitement that seemed a bit lacking in this book.

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  • Posted May 24, 2011

    Great Young Adult Book!

    This was a good book. Melaia is a priestess who offers a stranger a place to stay only to witness his horrible murder! She chases off the murderer but when cleaning up the body, notices something rather disturbing....wings. She'd always believed the stories about them were more fairy tales but now is having to rethink everything she believed. She is thrown into the middle of a battle that she never knew existed and she may be the key to it's end!
    Melaia was a great character. I wasn't sure how her indesision would work at the first but she turned out to be a strong character. The book started off with action, which I liked and kept you turning the pages to figure out exactly what was going on. I liked the different angels and their personalities and can't wait to read more from this author!
    I rate this a 4/5. It is written more for young adults but all ages will enjoy!

    Thank you to Waterbrook for the review copy of this book. I received this book in exchange for an honest review and the opinions stated above are 100% mine.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Interesting Read...Breath of Heaven

    Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley was an interesting read. This young adult fantasy is about a young priestess, Melaia, who is thrown into a life of angels, malevolents, and shapeshifters. Previously fabled tales become reality, and she is thrust into the destiny she was born to follow.

    I liked the story world of this book and was instantly caught up in the the opening scene. There were many characters and I got confused every now and then by the constant movement of the characters throughout the story. I bogged down in the middle of the book, but the story picked up toward the end and once again, I was caught up in the plot.

    I think anyone who enjoys fantasy would enjoy this tale. It has adventure and danger, with a hint of romance, and it came to a satisfying conclusion.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Slightly Overwhelming At First But Interesting

    In the end this turned out to be a fairly entertaining book although it took me a couple of tries to get into it. You are immediately tossed into Melaia's world where myth and fantasy are revealed as reality. There are a lot of characters, perhaps too many, and a substantial amount of series information packed into a relatively small book, which occasionally left me wondering if I had missed something early on. By the end I felt I was getting a grasp on the world of The Angeleon Circle series and I was intrigued enough to wonder what comes next. I think this book will appeal to many young adults and adults who enjoy books filled with fantasy and shape shifters. An added plus is that this book's content was not overly violent or sexually suggestive making it an okay read for advanced younger readers intrigued by the whole shape-shifter theme. I only gave this 3 stars because my rough start with it; but now I'm interested in seeing where this series progresses in the next book.
    ~Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purpose of completing this review. The Blogging for Books program does not require positive reviews and as always all opinions expressed in this post are my own.~

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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Exciting and Edge-of-Your Seat Tale

    Breath of Angel, book 1 of The Angeleon Circle, by Karyn Henley, was almost everything I hoped it would be! In this fantasy novel, Henley does a masterful job of creating her world, her characters, and her storyline. From the first pages, I was hooked.

    Melaia, a young priestess discovers the legends she is charged with remembering through song are not simple myth. In fact, the ancient battle between good and evil continues its epic struggle in her land. She is drawn into the middle of the age old battle and learns her role is more than simple priestess. Her destiny is intertwined with the salvation of her world. And she must learn who she can trust, as her heart is pulled between her duty, her destiny, and her desires.

    I look forward to the continuation of the tale with bated breath! My only criticism is that I will have to wait for book 2...

    I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy. It was a clean, easy read, suitable for even middle school children. My thanks to Waterbrook Press for offering this book for review. It will be available for sale on June 21, 2011.

    Karina Harris; author of "Second Chance" a Summers Saga Novel

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  • Posted May 16, 2011

    An excellent fast paced read, once you persevere through!

    I recently finished reading Karyn Henley's "The Angeleon Circle Book One: Breath of Angel" and I must admit that after having read only the first few chapters I wasn't so sure that I should have kept on reading (at first), however perseverance and an open mind can pay off if you give things a good chance, especially when it comes to this book. "Breath of Angel" is the story of a young priestess named Melaia who seeks, and needs, to find her destiny in the midst of angels and others. Melaia's story first begins though when an angel is murdered...a hawk man flies into the skies...blood covered feathers...and from there the story continues to deepen and twist and turn over time. I have a feeling that you will be as drawn into the story as I was, if you give it a chance and continue to read on. The first few chapters seemed to move a bit too quickly for me, and it seemed rather vague on details at times, but after a while I found myself more interested and invested into Melaia and the other characters. I mean I wasn't expecting detailed character origins anything like what Tolkien wrote many many years ago or anything, however, I wish that I had been a little more thoroughly introduced to the characters in the story within the first chapter instead of being thrust into the midst of a courtyard murder and no name faces to contend with. Although, I do admit that after I had read past chapter 7 I knew that I needed to persevere on and give this book a chance and continue to read this book through...and I was right! This book was really good in the end. It had a great rise and fall to the story. The story concepts and characters were really well laid out (after a while into the novel after I gave it a chance) and carried throughout the story quite well. I absolutely loved the idea of a story of an ongoing war between angels and malevolents, a blood feud between two brothers and about the stairway to heaven that was destroyed and is destined to be restored that I found within this book. This story was exciting and mysterious...and just how I like my Fantasy novels! I must warn you that you can't help but want to search out every scripture on angels after having read this book, seriously! Honestly, I am ready to read Book 2 in The Angeleon Circle already, while eating apricots of course! {I received this book for FREE from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.}

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