‘The Angel of Highgate’ is a Brutal Penny Dreadful

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51Ptsg8PHjL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_Lord Geoffrey Thraxton drinks, whores, and writes poetry; he is everything the philandering Victorian cliche should be. He also has a taste for Highgate Cemetery and spending his day and evenings amidst the statues and graves. After a tryst with a local whore in the cemetery, Thraxton sees the very image of a stone angel come to life. Amazed, he searches for her but cannot uncover where the angel comes from.  He follows up his escapades by challenging his greatest literary critic to a duel, wounding him superficially. This injury requires a fiendish doctor; one that delights in infecting wounds and over prescribing laudanum. Thraxton runs afoul of the doctor and his henchmen when he returns to the cemetery to find his angel. The henchmen make quick work of Thraxton and drop him into an open grave. It is his angel that rescues him and begins his fascination anew. His angel is not a statue, but a real woman with a dangerous illness. Thraxton finds himself both completely in love, and struggling to protect her from the dangers of a Victorian crime lord and our evil Doctor.

Sensitive readers will want to skip this book entirely. The first few pages follow a necrophiliac fetish and the book quickly falls into vicious men gutting children, women getting horrific venereal diseases, and a butcher of a doctor that takes delight in infecting wounds and stealing the corpses of babies.  I’m a fan of horror and there were even a few sections I nearly skipped while reading. This is definitely not a book for children or younger readers.

The Angel of Highgate struggles to try and put two major villains into one storyline. While this would have worked in a television mini-series, it becomes clunky and episodic instead of flowing from beginning to end.  The book takes from many a penny dreadful and Lord Byron-esque story. If one has spent a good time following those worlds, they will quickly predict much of the story line. The book is still deeply enjoyable and the characters are fun to follow. The side characters are the most delightful to read about, even as they are pushed aside for drama’s sake. For those who love a tawdry Victorian mystery or romance novel, The Angel of Highgate is good fun.

The Angel of Highgate by Vaughn Entwistle is now available from Titan Books.

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