Zoe Jabril is a typical teenage girl, or at least that is what she thought before she found out that her best friend is an angel and that he was assigned to watch over her. That should be enough oddity in the life of one young woman but it's only the tip of the iceberg for Zoe. After being attacked by demons, Zoe learns that she is destined to bring the Enlightens together and bring an end to the Devil's plot to take over the world. That's a lot for anyone to handle, especially when one has prom to worry about and the mean girls at school just won't leave you alone.
As you may have guessed from the description, The Guardian, A Sword & Stilettos is YA. When I pick up a YA book, I expect a lack of maturity and experience from the protagonist but Zoe takes the cake. The devil is sending demon assassins to kill Zoe and what is she concerned about? Well, finding the perfect prom dress naturally and of course her first kiss. If that were not enough, Zoe keeps bringing up learning to defend herself but somehow never gets around to that, what with all the angst about which of her immortal male love interests to choose from.
Speaking of immortal love interests, I have to say for the record that the idea of an 80 year old Nephilim and an ancient angel in love with and pursuing a 17 year old girl because she is the chosen one is just wrong. First off, both Shay and Kieran have been watching over Zoe since the day of her birth and when she became a teenager, they both suddenly began to feel an attraction to her. Ummm creepy, in fact, super creepy. Zoe does actually call Shay a stalker but still yet continues in her relationship with him because - well - woo woo naturally. Shay causes her to tingle, so the fact that he watched her from the cradle and is actually old enough to at the very least be her grandfather is supposedly no big deal. Had the nature of Zoe's relationship with Shay and the age difference actually been something Zoe actively thought about and tried to negotiate, I could have tolerated it better. Instead, what we got was Zoe angsting about the fact that she has feelings for Shay and not for her best friend. I suppose I should simply be thankful that VanRisseghem didn't drag out the love triangle for too long.
If you can get over the creepy pedophile type feeling of both Shay and Kieran, there's also the issue that they read like teenage boys. Yes, in terms of immortals they are young but neither one of the two should actually sound or feel like they fit in at high school. On their first date, Shay even plays a One Direction song for Zoe. What teenage boy listens to One Direction, let alone a Nephlim who has been alive for eighty years? When Shay was 17, WWII was just starting. How does someone like that relate to One Direction? It's ridiculous and feels like Van Risseghem was just trying to squeeze in some youthful references. Look, teenagers are just as diverse as adults and perhaps Van Risseghem should spend some time with a few to get a better sense of what they are like. Yes, some are going to be obsessed with the latest boy band and prom while others are goal oriented and have real awareness of this world. All in all, much of Van Risseghem's characterisation feels forced, unrealistic and trite.