An Atomic Moo Book Review of Vaughn Entwistle’s New Novel
This summer I turn 40. Four decades. Most of them kind of awful. Now that I’m about to hit the big Four Zero all I think about is death. Well, my death. I can’t help it! I’m probably more or less half way there and that scares the hell out of me! Hell, most cavemen only lived into their thirties! I’m a very old caveman, and there’s so much I haven’t done! I’ve only hit on about twenty strippers in my life. Do you know how many strippers are out there!? And, Thai food! I’ve never ate it! What if it’s awesome!? Oh, and I’ve never eaten Thai food off a stripper! Ye Gods, there so much I haven’t done! I’m not ready to die!!! So, picking up a novel that has a fascination with death, dying, and the dead, probably wasn’t smart.
Anyways, my own mortality aside: Titan Books recently published a thrilling new novel from Vaughn Entwistle (cool last name) that is very much on the macabre side of 19th century London. The Angel of Highgate begins with Lord Geoffrey Thraxton, a sort of outlandish rogue, who’s self indulgent behavior has given him a bad reputation in elite English society. Thraxton is obsessed with death, and one evening while hanging around a cemetery he sees a specter that changes his life! Here’s the official synopsis:
After surviving a pistol duel, Thraxton boasts his contempt for death and insults the attending physician. It is a mistake he will regret, for Silas Garretteis a deranged sociopath and chloroform-addict whose mind was broken on the battlefields of Crimea. When Thraxton falls in love with a mysterious woman who haunts Highgate Cemetery by night, he unwittingly provides the murderous doctor with the perfect means to punish a man with no fear of death.
The Angel of Highgate did an excellent job of recreating 19th century macabre. This book is as thrilling as any horror fiction you could get from Poe or Shelly two centuries ago. Lord Thraxton is enough of a young, egocentric, cad to be both enjoyable and hated at the same time. I also really enjoyed the villains in this story. Good bad guys are hard to come by, and Entwistle did a masterful job of writing the antagonists for this novel. Doctor Garrette, and Morecai Fowler, are a great combination of ruthless and sinister for a more adult oriented story. If I had to give a criticism of this book it would be that I wish it had kept up with the “spookiness” that was present in the first half of the novel. Though the story remained dark and eerie, it became much more of an adventure story and pulled away from the supernatural tone that was set up by moments like the seance in chapter twelve. That didn’t ruin the book for me, I was just hoping for a bit more of a ghost story after the seance, is all.
So, if you’re young and you’ve got a whole life a head of you, yeah, pick this novel up and give it a read. Now you’ll have to excuse me while I go find a happy stripper that’ll let me slurp Pad Thai off her naked body. I might not get to do it tomorrow!!!
The Angel of Highgate is for sale in all major bookstores, or you can get your copy online from Titan Books!