As ongoing research to recapture an affinity to horror fiction that I had during the heyday of my game design years (as preparation to someday finish the When Shadows Rise role-playing game), and as brain candy to break from daily work and other duties, I’ve been reading numerous horror novels lately—many of them in ebook form, lent to me by a female friend.
You may be aware that there is a lot of trashy horror being published nowadays. Much of it relies on erotic scenes to infuse an otherwise lifeless tale with interest. That’s especially true of vampire fiction. And I’ve been exposed to a lot of it lately. Perhaps it would be more fair to say that much of the horror published is targeted more at a female audience than at males. In any case, supernatural bodice rippers are still bodice rippers, and a man can take only so much of that before needing to reread something down to earth like John Steakley’s Vampire$ for a few breathtaking chase scenes and brutal fights.
Happily, life hides surprises in unexpected places—which, I suppose, is the definition of “surprise”—and this collection of novels proved no exception. Although the friend who supplied these ebooks hadn’t yet read it herself, Angel of Ruin turned out to be one of the best novels I’ve read in quite a while—and (brain candy aside) I’ve read some very, very good stuff.
Originally published in paperback as Fallen Angel, Angel of Ruin sports a frame tale involving a young journalist living in London, who infultrates a yuppie magic group, hoping to score a story that will pay her rent, and becomes entangled with a modern “Wandering Jew” or “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” sort of figure with a tale to tell. That tale involves the daughers of Milton becoming embroiled in the machinations of an angel, during Milton’s writing of Paradise Lost.
It all works amazingly well, carried along by a cast of thoroughly engaging characters, convincing dialogue, and fascinating motivations throughout. Whether you pick it up as an ebook or track down an old print copy, this is definitely not a book to miss. My life is absolutely the richer for having encountered it, which makes the slog through all those supernatural romance titles somehow worthwhile.
Back to the slog.