Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Angel of Ruin by Kim Wilkins

Last night Battboy and I were watching Simon Schama's History of Britain. A segment about The Great Fire of London came on. I turned to Lee and announced: "I know who started it. Kim Wilkins told me." I was smiling, I wasn't serious, but the way Kim handles the subject in her book Angel of Ruin, made it seem a plausible answer.

Not a book I read this week, but one I picked up while on holiday in Brisbane early last year. As many of you are aware, I started to miscarry the Battbaby at that time and was pretty much laid up in bed as a result. I had bought Angel of Ruin on a whim as I'd heard of Kim Wilkins but hadn't, at that point, read anything by her. It was thick and yes, I liked the cover, so I handed over Battboy's cold hard cash and took the book to bed.

And I'm so glad I did. This book saved my sanity.

I'm a person who likes to keep busy while being passive. I'll fold clothes while watching tv, read a magazine while feeding the baby or make a bolognese sauce for tomorrow night's dinner, while cooking tonight's roast. So for me to lie still, in bed, all hours of the day and night is very difficult. The book has to be really gripping for me to stay put.

Angel of Ruin accomplished this. From the outset I was hooked and couldn't let go. It was only due to Battboy's pestering that I managed to put it down in order to nap.

Set in 17th Century London, the story blurs the lines between fact and fiction, past and present, good and evil. At the plot's heart stand Mary, Deborah and Anne Milton, the daughters of John Milton (of Paradise Lost fame). Faced with exile from the family home, the three girls call upon an angel for help. Their saviour arrives in the form of Lazodeus, an angel of the Fifth Order, aka a guardian angel.

At first a caring benefactor, the angel quickly shows his true face, a face that is both beautiful and terrifying by turns.

I'm not normally a reader of horror, but Wilkins' tale kept me glued from beginning to end. Her usage of real people was so believable that I actually felt as if it could have been history I was reading rather than fiction. The plotting was logical and coherent and at no point did I feel "yeah, right."

As an editor, I often find that my need to 'proof' the story interrupts my enjoyment of it. Fortunately, this story was so good, I never felt compelled to edit it.

So, who would read it? Well, if you like your horror to be full of blood and guts and gore, this novel isn't for you. However, if you like the sort of horror that messes with your mind or features supernatural elements, you'll love this (the scene with the spiders gave my skin crawl).

If I had a rating system in place I'd give it 4 and a 1/2 stars. I take off half a star because I think that at times the present day story felt a little contrived.

Go, read, enjoy.


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