Vaughn Entwistle's The Angel of Highgate was published by Titan Books in December 2015.
Information about Vaughn Entwistle:
Vaughn Entwistle is a British novelist based in the Mendip Hills of North Somerset, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
For most of his life he has rattled about between England and the United States. He lived for over ten years in Seattle where, when not pursuing a day job as a writer/editor, ran a successful gargoyle sculpting business (yes, really!).
When not attempting to write with one cat on his lap, a Brittany lying across his feet, and one or more cats sauntering across the keyboard. When not writing he can be found walking the dog in the English countryside exploring the many gothic manors, ancient stone circles and remains of Roman towns and forts.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about The Angel of Highgate:
It is October 1859, and notorious philanderer Lord Geoffrey Thraxton cares for nothing except his own amusement. After humiliating an odious literary critic and surviving the resulting duel, he boasts of his contempt for mortality, and insults the attending physician. It is a mistake he will come to regret. When Thraxton becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman who appears to him one fog-shrouded night in Highgate Cemetery, he unwittingly provides the doctor with the perfect means to punish a man with no fear of death...
A REVIEW OF VAUGHN ENTWISTLE'S THE ANGEL OF HIGHGATE
As many readers know, Victorian fiction has a long-standing tradition in England and many Victorian novels have been written over the years. Vaughn Entwistle's The Angel of Highgate is a proud and full-blooded member of this literary genre, because it's a highly enjoyable Victorian mystery novel with a supernatural twist. It's something a bit different yet familiar, and it will please readers who enjoy reading mystery stories.
The Angel of Highgate is a prequel to the author's critically acclaimed The Revenant of Thraxton Hall, which is the first novel of The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although this novel is a prequel, it can be read as a standalone novel.
Vaughn Entwistle delivers an excellent story that is rich with atmosphere and insight into Victorian way of life. His vivid descriptions of different places and people evoke powerful images of Victorian era. When you read this novel, you'll find yourself fully immersed in the story, because it leads you on a fascinating journey into Victorian London that is inhabited by lords, ladies, prostitutes and mobsmen and where hideous and sinister things may happen to people.
The Angel of Highgate has a charmingly dark and twisted edge to it that separates it from many other Victorian novels. Its dark and twisted elements will appeal to many readers who are intrigued by sinister happenings, because the author has done his best to create a thrilling reading experience.
Along with Mark A. Latham's The Lazarus Gate (Titan Books, September 2015), The Angel of Highgate is one of the best new Victorian novels. It's also one of the most enjoyable novels of the year, because the story flows effortlessly from start to finish and becomes increasingly interesting with each new chapter.
Here's information about the story:
In the beginning, Lord Geoffrey Thraxton is walking through Highgate Cemetery on an early Sunday morning in October, 1859. He witnesses a funeral and enters a mausoleum where he has an interesting and kinky sexual encounter. A bit later, Lord Thraxton meets August Skinner, a literary critic, who criticises his poetry book in a harsh way. He insults the man and is challenged to a duel. He survives the duel and wounds his opponent by shooting him in a tender place. When he talks with the attending doctor, Silas Garrette, he boasts of his contempt for mortality and insults the doctor. Soon Lord Thraxton falls in love with the mysterious woman who haunts Highgate Cemetery. His falling in love gives Silas Garrette excellent means to punish him...
Vaughn Entwistle writes passionately about the characters and the happenings. He has created a strong story that both entertains and thrills his readers. The story contains a few provocative and also thought-provoking elements that will delight readers who want something extraordinary from their fiction.
Here are a few words about some of the characters:
- Lord Geoffrey Thraxton is a fascinatingly notorious philanderer and womaniser. He has a soiled reputation and his manners leave a lot to be desired. He concentrates on amusing himself and doesn't pay much attention to others and their opinions. He's rich and he uses his money to satisfy his own needs and personal passions. Although he's not a very nice character, he's an interesting and strangely loveable rogue.
- Algernon 'Algy' Hyde-Davies is Lord Thraxton's friend. He often has to apologise for his friend's rash behaviour. He does his best to prevent his friend from insulting and harming others, but he seldom succeeds in it due to his friend's impulsive nature.
- Dr. Silas Garrett is a sociopathic man who has peculiar and macabre secrets of his own that he keeps hidden from others. He's not an ordinary kind of a doctor, because his methods of treating patients are twisted.
- Aurelia is the object of Lord Thraxton's affection. She has an interesting life, because she has to live differently than others.
The author has created good backgrounds for his characters and he gradually reveals their secrets. His characters are wonderfully drawn and the dialogue is often colourful and entertaining.
The author writes well about the friendship between Algernon and Lord Thraxton, because they share a few similar kinds of interests, but are different from each other. The author also writes well about what kind of feelings Lord Thraxton has for Aurelia, because he becomes deeply infatuated by her.
It's great that the author writes about how the doctor gets corpses for his studies. I enjoyed reading about how the local mobsmen provided him with fresh corpses by digging them up at the cemetery. This reminded me a bit of the British black comedy Burke & Hare (2010).
I also enjoyed reading about Algernon's job as the head botanist at the Kew Gardens. His job was to catalogue and cultivate new and unknown species of flora that arrived each day. Because I've been interested in botany for a long time, it was interesting for me to read about these things.
One of the best things about The Angel of Highgate is that the author doesn't shy away from writing how harsh life can be to those who are poor and have to live on the streets. He writes unflinchingly about how prostitutes and mobsmen survive in Victorian London and what kind of things they do to earn money. Life is not easy and pretty for them, but they've learned to cope and get by without help from others.
It's nice that the author has added plenty of genuinely funny and witty humour to the story. At times the humour is deliciously dark and borders on the line of being pitch black, which is great. The humorous elements satisfyingly complement the twisted elements of the story. If you like witty humour, you'll find a lot to enjoy in this novel, because the author has a good sense of humour and he manages to surprise his readers a few times.
Based on this novel, I can say that Vaughn Entwistle is a talented author who has his own writing style and who knows how to write about Victorian way of life in a belieavable manner. I hadn't read anything by him prior to reading this novel, but I will definitely take a look at his other novels, because I loved this novel.
Vaughn Entwistle's The Angel of Highgate is everything I expect from Victorian fiction and more, because it's an enjoyable story with intriguingly macabre elements. It's a first-rate mystery story with an emphasis on entertainment and good storytelling. It can be recommended to readers who love entertaining fiction and are willing to immerse themselves into a gripping story.
My final words are:
This novel is brilliant entertainment - more, please!