Angels Take Wing

Observatory, Reading & Writing

We’re being told it’s the next publishing craze: Angels are set to replace vampires as objects of desire for young readers.
Authors and film-makers are rushing to bring out books and movies starring these fantasy beings to cash in on the latest Stateside-originating craze.
Many of the winged protagonists have a darker side that publishers hope will tap into the booming supernatural genre, which Stephenie Meyer tackled with the Twilight series. Booksellers are reporting strong interest in many of the new fallen angels titles. WH Smith has tipped angels to be a “strong trend” for it next year, while Waterstone’s said that fallen angels – so called because they have had their wings clipped for being bad and then they fall to earth – had “struck a chord” with its children’s buying team.
The angels appear as normal angels but are a bit like vampires. Instead of sucking blood they suck human life force, which they need to survive.
Cindy Hwang, executive editor at Berkley Books, said: “Angels appeal because they are larger than life, more beautiful, sexier and more sensual. If someone can tame such a powerful being and get them to fall in love with them, that’s very seductive.”
Analysts expect the new paranormal love interest to buoy the young adult publishing category, which has seen sales rocket this year on the back of demand for vampire titles.
There are several Fallen Angel movies in the pipeline. Disney has picked up the rights to Fallen, which is the first in a four-part series, and Will Smith is working on an adaptation of Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Rose Fox, fantasy reviews editor at the trade magazine Publishers Weekly, said: “If these stories are particularly compelling at the moment, perhaps it’s because the world is full of questions and fears right now. Readers who blame themselves for their misfortune may find comfort in stories of angels who broke rules or failed at tasks and are given second chances. Readers struggling with uncertainty may enjoy the idea of a cosmic plan.”
That uncertainty has also rekindled interest in more traditional angel books, featuring guardian angels rather than fallen ones. The most popular is Lorna Byrne’s Angels in My Hair, which has sold about 60,000 copies. Judith Kendra, publishing director at Rider, said: “These are usually stories of great comfort that touch on all of our feelings of vulnerability now that we all live very individual lives away from our family. People like to feel there is somebody or something watching out for them and trying to help.”

Upcoming angels:
Legion, in which God takes his revenge via an army of angels sent to wipe the world clean of humanity, arrives in cinemas on 5 March.
An Angel Healed my Heart was released earlier this month, is her collection of “true” stories about encounters with angels.
Covet is a bestseller in which good and evil fight for supremacy in the ultimate endgame. Fallen has a classic love triangle featuring Luce Price, an alienated girl at a reform school, who is torn between two young men, unaware that they are fallen angels. Angel’s Blood has a vampire hunter tracking an archangel gone bad. The Unfinished Angel has a flawed angel befriending a young girl in a Swiss Alpine village. Hush, Hush has a girl unwittingly giving her heart to a fallen angel, who has a dark agenda to get his wings back. Angels in my Hair is an autobiography about a modern mystic who grew up “seeing angels” such as the Archangel Michael and the prophet Elijah.

But isn’t the craze just about something else? Angels allow teenage girls to fantasise about the perfect male without having to worry about anything real, like the complications of sex, underage pregnancy or engagement with genuine relationship issues. Are they harmless fantasy novels, or an encouragement to an infantilised mindset and a lack of connection to modern society?
I may be reading too much into this, but it seems that after years of learning to empower themselves, it’s now OK for girls to become late starters and spend all their time mooning over fetishised manhood…

12 comments on “Angels Take Wing”

  1. Shuku says:

    As far as I’m concerned, Twilight sets the concept of ‘independent, strong women’ back at least several centuries into the Dark Ages. I’m not precisely thrilled about this latest trend with angels either, to be perfectly honest. All this glorified romanticised notions of men, of romance and love? That’s definitely not the sort of thing I’d like to toss to an impressionable adolescent, and certainly not any daughter of mine. Fantasy novels are all well and good – I used to read those when I was growing up, and I still do – but when it’s thrown into glamorous high relief and screaming prominence by Hollywood film makers who capitalize on teenage hormones for most of their film adaptations of books…well, then it’s not so good.

    Having spent at least a month listening to my secondary school choristers squeal over Twilight and how tooooooooootally romaaaaaaantic Edward and Bella are, when all it blatantly glorifies is textbook psychological and emotional abuse? I really don’t want to think about what’s going to happen when the NEW craze about angels shows up.

  2. I don’t mind getting angels, vampires, zombies, lamias, leprechauns or Tititi-Hoochoo the Great Jinjin. What I truly despise and loathe are these mindless, greed-based crazes: suddenly, one type of monster is *hot* and you trip over the bushels of similar stuff being unloaded to cash in while the cash is good. Once the subject has been sucked so dry people get sick at the very mention of it, the whole phenomenon flies off and hovers, waiting for a new prey. It’s not fantasy writing, it’s fantasy stripmining, and this seems to be the only mode our ultracapitalistic society can currently sustain.

    It’s pretty depressing.

    What’s more, angels being the perfect excuse for drippy religiosity, I suppose we’re going to be submitted to more Rapture and Apocalypse nonsense, cloying preachings and Old Testament savagery, which really annoys me. How many of these angels will be stemming from exotic religions, which at least could vary the menu? Not many, I fear.

  3. Shuku says:

    Apsaras and houris! That’ll be the day…

    Come to think of it, that’s not much better either now is it.

  4. I.A.M. says:

    Patrick, you’re right on the money with your “strip-mining” simile. We’ve seen it before in other fields — movies, pop music, iconography in clothing / posters /towels / pencil cases / toothbrushes — and now in books. In a sense, it’s encouraging to realize that books can deliver ‘hot content’; especially to the young. Books may not have waned after all!

    The only thing which comes to mind regarding angels, however, is the recurring though in my mind about ‘when did Angels stop being eight-or-ten-winged creatures which, when encountered by humans, would engender fear and terror and one would run in the other direction from?’ Seriously, Angels are originally something very un-pretty and “human with fluffy wings (possibly also toting tiny, five-stringed Greek harp or lyre)”, but gigantic moth-like, multi-winged thing that’s possibly on fire, and toting a sword. There’s a moment in a very late episode of The X-Files where Skully is visited by one, and it’s probably one of the few times that modern culture has shown the earlier version. What happened to that one?

  5. Mike Cane says:

    Oh dear god. Not angels AGAIN!! They were big in the late 1990s!! The low point was this:

    Don’t make us go through them again. And if someone utters “remake” of that, alert the SAS.

  6. Steve says:

    Pass the rose-colored glasses, please. And I’d like my drippy religiosity served with a generous dash of Moloch’s (the Canaanite god, not the “Lost Symbol” bad guy)take on the disposition of small children. Yum!

  7. Helen Martin says:

    I loved the strip mining image, because it is exactly what is happening and young people’s “literature” is where it is happening the strongest. I was uneasy with the vampire thing and if angels are to be portrayed as mentioned I would be very uneasy indeed. The entrance to Eden was barred by an angel with a flaming sword. The shepherds who saw angels were “sore afraid” And how did this sexuality thing get in? I can enjoy Holly of the LEP recon force and all of the other creatures in that series but don’t try dumbing down angels which can be really useful as voices of awareness, conscience, or whatever if you leave the fear element in there. Yeah, bring on Moloch and the Celtic gods, let’s boil up some warriors from that kettle or sow some dragon teeth.

  8. J. Folgard says:

    Second time this month I’ve stumbled upon this “Angels are the new vampires” thing. I hope this fad gets old quickly, because it seems to be even more marketing-driven than Twilight -I mean, at least Meyer’s novels were a genuine success with their first readers from the beginning, while the Angels ploy looks more like the publishers want to build a trend from the ground up. Also, I think the point you made about teenage girls’ fantaisies is valid: maybe even the defanged, big-haired, “romance”-obsessed, Jonas Brothers-style bloodsuckers were seen as too bad-boy, hence the angels as an even more saccharine “supernatural” chill-free alibi.
    Also, I a teacher, I find it quite grating to see intelligent, resourceful & witty students waste their escapism time reading those dull doorstoppers, but at least they do read -the others just wait for the -inevitable- movie…

  9. Elinor Vickers says:

    Ah, but who doesn’t love the angels in Kevin Smith’s Dogma!As for all this cheesy supernatural malarkey, it’s right up the average fourteen year old girl’s street but after that you should worry…

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