Between Angels and Demons

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I’ve always been fascinated by the classic battle between good and evil. And having grown up in a Catholic household, the epitome of that battle has always been the contest between God and the devil. I’m going to date myself a bit here and confess that when I was dreaming up my premise for my debut novel Drawn into Darkness, I was inspired a little by the Chris de Burgh song Spanish Train (from the album of the same name).

Anyone remember that song?

In case you don’t, the gist of it is that there’s a train that runs through Spain collecting the souls of the dead, and that God and the devil decide who ends up on the train based on the outcome of a card game…or a chess game…or whatever.

There are some fascinating elements to that song: the sense of eternity it conveys, the frustrating knowledge that the devil cheats and wins souls that he shouldn’t, the personal touch invoked by having them gamble for souls on the bed of a dying person, and the impassioned cry of the train driver whose soul in on the line at the end of the song. Great stuff.

My books don’t involve Spanish trains or card games, but the stakes are the same—the fate of human souls. Call me a softy, but when I envisioned my world of soul tug-of-war, I had trouble with the notion that no one was defending the dead from the thieving minions of you-know-who (no, not Voldemorte). Enter the Soul Gatherer—a mostly-honorable warrior tasked with collecting the souls of the dead, protecting them from demons, and making sure they get to their proper destination. Mostly honorable, because each Soul Gatherer made serious mistakes in his previous life and is now serving a term in purgatory.

Standing where they do, neatly between the angels and the demons, means the Soul Gatherers get caught in the middle of the bigger battle. Especially if and when the devil decides he’s not content ruling the underworld. Then the angels get really busy defending the living and soul-snatching demons constantly crawl out of the woodwork:

Lachlan reached behind his neck and tugged his sword from the leather baldric buckled under his suit jacket. The blade made a reassuring zing as it cleared the metal ring at the top, a familiar prelude to battle that injected adrenaline straight into his veins. No sooner had his sword completed its carefully controlled arc than the air around him suddenly blazed with unbearable intensity. His nose burned with the sharp odor of brimstone and his ears made a soft popping noise.

He blinked . . . and found himself staring at five sturdy young men wearing the unofficial high-tech uniform: jeans, golf shirt, and sneakers. The nearest fellow, a clean-cut congenial blond, grinned and pointed to Lachlan’s black suit and distinctive white collar. “Nice duds. Not many folks would question you hovering around dead bodies in that outfit.”

Lachlan didn’t return the smile. “The human authorities are already on their way.”

“Then we’ll have to make this quick, won’t we?”

“Bugger off.”

“Sorry, bro, not going to happen.”

“This soul is no’ yours.”

A car horn bleated as a truck rumbled along the road overhead, signaling the start of morning rush hour. Lachlan’s heartbeat, already thumping heavily, sped up. All it would take was one human to wander into this dome and there’d be difficult explanations to make. Discovery wasn’t an issue for the demons—they could escape in a blink of an eye—but he was trapped.

“Maybe,” the blond demon responded, “but we’re here and the other team isn’t, so give it up.”

“Sorry, bro, no’ going to happen.”

The demon’s eyes narrowed at the parroting of his words. As his hellmates spread out, circling their prey like the craven scavengers they were, he shrugged. “Your funeral.”

Lachlan rolled his shoulders, loosening the muscles in his neck. This week his gathers had been very disagreeable, including two blood-soaked murders and a horrific Friday night pile-up on the freeway. Today’s death of an innocent woman only spurred the primitive howl in his blood. A fight suited him fine—as long as it was short.

“Five against one?”

Reaching deep, finding the cool, white power that pulsed at the very center of his being, he stoked it. An icy flare radiated from his chest to his forearms and down to the lethal edge of his blade. The sword responded with a low, eager hum. Although medieval in design, the weapon had been forged by a modern-day master . . . who was also a mage.

“Very unsporting, lads.”

Blondie smiled and responded, “What can I say? Ambush 101 is a prerequisite for the demon merit bad—”

The demon’s head toppled off, landing on the gravel with a dull thud and a splat of steaming blood. Lachlan’s sword brightened with eerie luminescence as demon gore ran along its fine edge, and he displayed the glowing green blade to the other four with a grim smile.

Even in a classic battle of good and evil, there are shades of gray. The Soul Gatherers were once human, and they each carry heavy personal burdens. As they earn their way into heaven and look to their future, they must also come to grips with their pasts. Tortured heroes? You bet.

We all love a good tortured hero, don’t we? Share your favorite dark hero on the blog today, and you could win a copy of Drawn into Darkness and a chance to check out Lachlan MacGregor for yourself. One commenter will be drawn at random.

Thanks for joining me today! For more details on the Soul Gatherers, including excerpts, trailers, and deleted scenes, please visit my website at www.annettemccleave.com.

Annette McCleave

23 Responses to Between Angels and Demons

  1. Wendy

    I love paranormal and reading about good vs evil. My favorite dark hero would probably be Angel (the TV series). He’s just so tortured and you just want him to be happy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s wonderful eye candy either! Definitely adding your Soul Gatherer books to my wishlist!!

  2. Annette McCleave

    Angel is a great example! Thanks for sharing, Wendy.

  3. susan leech

    Morning Annette, I went and visited your site and happy at what I found. You are new to me but I never stay a stranger to anyone very long so will be checking out your books and web site on a regularly basis. I retired recently and been here seeking new authors and books and even a new style an found all here. Hope you have a good day and hope to be entered in your contest..that would be nice. susan L.

  4. susan leech

    I must admit I am just returning to the dark side so to speak..years ago I was madly in love with Dark Shadows,,,Barnabus Collins and read and watch each of the shows as it was a soap opera plus had all the books to read. I switch to a lighter style and just recently decided to return. I still have to admit B. Collins sticks in my mind today yet. I hope to meet some new ones to add to my list of favorites and hope one can be from your books as they sound very good. susan L.

  5. Annette McCleave

    Nice to ‘meet’ you, Susan! Thanks for stopping by and for visiting my site. Barnabas was a vampire, right? Nothing says dark and delicious like a vampire. I know Wendy agrees. 🙂

  6. Lindy

    I’d have to go with Zsadist from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. Her heroes are luscious, and Zsadist is definitely a dark and tortured soul. He really stuck with me after I read the book.

    ~Lindy

  7. Annette McCleave

    From the moment you first meet Zsadist, it’s clear his dark past haunts him. So strong, so consumed, so proud. Great example, Lindy.

  8. Lisa G

    I have several dark heros I think I would like to meet. First, I would have to say Angel, The Beast from Beauty and the Beast, The Phantom of the Opera (Gerard Butler especially,) Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series- Vane and Talon ( they are hot,) though it’s kind of young- Edward from Twilight and the vampires from Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series- Bill and Eric.
    I read all kinds of books and watch too much T.V. Kindred had some awesome Vampires. The series didn’t last to long and I can’t find the book it was based off of. I tend to lean for the bad guys, the dark heroes, they are different and have faults but deep down they only want to be loved.

  9. Annette McCleave

    Wow! Great list, Lisa. I like Gerard in almost anything. 🙂 Are you watching the new Vampire Diaries series at all? I know plenty of folks enamored with Damon.

  10. Cherie J

    I would have to say Rain from CL Wilson’s Tairen Soul books. He bears so much guilt from his role in the events of the past. Truly tortured with self guilt.

  11. Annette McCleave

    Nothing like living with grief for a thousand years to torture a guy, right, Cherie? 🙂 I love Rain’s combination of darkness, power, and destiny. He’s an awesome character.

  12. Pam S

    Hi Annette,

    Don’t enter me as I already have and have to say I loved it :)! This is an awesome book. I look forward to reading others in the series.

  13. Annette McCleave

    Thanks for kind words, Pam! Much appreciated. Book 2 in the series, Bound by Darkness, comes out in May. I hope to post the cover on my website some time next week.

  14. Martha Lawson

    Jagr from “Darkness Unleashed” by Alexandra Ivy! Heck all her heroes from the Guardians of Eternity series are great!!

  15. Beverly G

    dark heros hummm well id have to say Spike from angel sorry but he had to fight for his soul back he wasnt cursed to get it back dont get me wrong I love me some angel lol I agree with Mqartha All of Alexandra Ivys heroes from the Guardians of Eternity rock i could go on and on really

    sookie stackhouse series id have to say i love bill and eric mainly bill tho lol

  16. Annette McCleave

    Martha – I have yet to discover the Guardians of Eternity series. Clearly, I’m missing out!

  17. Annette McCleave

    Beverly – I wondered if anyone would be on Team Spike. 🙂 He’s a wonderfully complex character, and you’re right about his journey to redemption being a tough one. No one handed Spike his soul for free.

  18. Mariska

    Hi Annette,
    lovely to know a new author for me 😉
    your book sounds great !

  19. Annette McCleave

    Thanks, Mariska!

  20. Eva S

    Your book sounds really great, I’ll look for it!
    Several of my dark heroes have been mentioned already, I love JR Ward’s Brothers and Sherrilyn Kenyons Dark-Hunters. One of my favorites is Don Nicolai DeMarco from Chistine Feehan’s Lair of the Lion. A wonderful gothic Beauty and the Beast read!

  21. Annette McCleave

    Eva — I’ve read lots of Christine Feehan books, but not Lair of the Lion. Another recommendation I’ll have to check out. 🙂 I love Beauty and the Beast stories.

  22. Tracey D

    I know I’m late for the party but one of my dark heroes is Victor Decimus from Vampire Vows by Michael Schiefelbein. I guess Victor was more an “anti-hero” but I just loved his character. He went against the grain of the typical vampire heros that I’ve read.

    Thanks,
    Tracey D

  23. Cortez Lenzo

    Love watching heroes, it came from boring to a good tv series now. During the first few episodes, Thought, its another xmen clone. Now its really fun to watch, I really hope the new season will be aired soon.

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