Friday, December 26, 2014

The Angels of Islington – Review

Author: Sarah Channing Wright

Published: 2014

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Onyx, Demon, Spider and Storm are vampires.

They hide from an ancient enemy within the recesses of a Victorian warehouse situated in the heart of London that houses a club night known to its denizens as ‘Slimelight’.

But all is not as it seems.

Immersed within the goth subculture where music, alcohol and blood flows concurrently, they are unaware that something has been plotting revenge and in order to survive, they must each find a new inner strength and, hopefully, sober up.

A gripping début novel following in the footsteps of Anne Rice and Poppy Z Brite with a touch of the sardonic. The Angels of Islington is a tongue-in-cheek romp through the world of a group of vampires who have successfully integrated themselves into the goth scene of nineties London.

This is not a sparkly vampire story.

The review: In her introduction to the novel, Sarah Channing Wright informs us that this book began life some years ago as a project not meant to be read by anyone, written when the author was younger. As such it reminded me of my own project Behind the Masque, which was a product of its time from a writer less mature than the one who released it. The author has, of course, edited and altered this moment in time to smooth off much of the rough edges but, as I read the book, I kept its roots in mind.

The book further spoke to me, as it described the Goth scene in London in the 90s, which living in a Lancashire seaside town at the same time I could only imagine whilst listening to the music. Hearing descriptions of such famous venues like Slimelight released a pang of jealousy for the nostalgia that my home town of Blackpool could never provide.

The story itself concentrates on a group of vampires who hang out in the Goth scene so as to hide in plain sight. Their hedonistic lives are threatened when an ancient vampire known as the Count tracks them down, his aim to destroy them. The Count is not a moral crusader, wiping out fellow vampires due to the perception of evil, he is absolutely mad as a hatter having been shunned by the woman he loved, Cleopatra.

The vampires are fairly standard lore wise; they are stronger and faster than humans, beheading certainly kills them as does sunlight and staking. The curse can be passed to animals, there was only a little bit done with this and I would have liked to have seen this explored more. Vampires can sense each other but somehow the Count can block this. I was unsure about the idea that the vampires could drain someone dry in seconds but, then again, this was written in the era of Buffy.

The citing of Goth bands by name, of which there is a lot, might prove distracting if a reader was unaware of the artists. This was not an issue for myself, but something to do that to bear in mind in future projects. All in all I enjoyed the journey and the sense of nostalgia. 6 out of 10.

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