Like a literary blend of Charles Dickens and Stephen King, Vaughn Entwistle’s Angel of Highgate is an intriguing and atmospheric novel that almost, almost delivers on its vast promise. As The Wickedest Man in London stalks the misty Highgate Cemetery seeking more than just poetic inspiration, he falls under the spell of a mysterious young woman. Eccentric endeavour gives way to dark adventure as central character Lord Geoffrey Thraxton’s indulgent life of leisure and pleasure becomes increasingly fraught.
Angel of Highgate’s plot meanders, a little too slowly at times, through the murky streets of a Victorian London brought to life by Entwistle’s rich prose. The tone is uneven at times, with slightly stunted humour sitting uncomfortably with moments of extreme and brutal violence. The story also takes a while to get really interesting, around half way through, but in truth none of this really matters. Entwistle’s novel is an enthralling, old-fashioned style yarn that engages its reader through atmospherically described locations and eccentric, cartoonish characters.
The story itself may ultimately prove a little unsatisfying to many tastes, but if you allow your imagination to wallow in the sights, sounds and smells Entwistle conjures up then that is almost secondary. It is a world you would never want to experience, a world of unpredictable danger and indulgent gentry, but it is a fascinating one to spy on. And in Lord Geoffrey Thraxton there is an anti-hero as amusing as he is repugnant. A book for a cold winter’s evening with a large brandy close to hand.
ANGEL OF HIGHGATE / AUTHOR: VAUGHN ENTWISTLE / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW