Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Angel of Highgate by Vaughn Entwistle

It is the October of 1859 and Lord Geoffrey Thraxton is living up to his title as the “wickedest man in London.” A notorious womanizer with a penchant for death and a flair for theatrics, he cares for nothing but his own amusement and has the means to keep himself entertained. 

Also a poet and with his taste for the spirit world, Geoffrey spends a lot of time at Highgate Cemetery to connect with his muses, and develops an obsession with a mysterious woman who appears to him there at night. 

The woman has a profound effect on the wayward Lord, and Geoffrey begins to rethink his lifestyle choices as he pursues his new heart’s desire. But after making an enemy of a snobby literary critic and a nefarious doctor, he is not the only one with an end game. 

The story was a lot darker than I was expecting it. The doctor in the tale is quite scary at times and so well illustrated with his unusual white top hat and rose-tinted pince-nez. He’s sneaky, almost ghost-like and cruel and adds lots of uncertainty and suspense to the story. 

As much as he is a rogue, I really liked Lord Geoffrey’s character. I liked the mix of his being such a cad, but with the interest in the supernatural and such hard-headed determination in the face of opposition. The cemetery was a cool setting as well. Atmospheric and spooky at times, I really liked how it was worked into the story, along with loads of other Victorian London hotspots. 

As you flit around London following the characters on whatever trouble they are getting in to, you also visit both ends of the societal spectrum, from the rich elite and their amusements, to the poor underclass and criminal underworld. The Seven Dials Rookery, with its vision of decrepit buildings and river of filth added murky shades to the multi-layered storyline. 

I really did enjoy this book. I think maybe because it did exceed my expectations and went in directions that for me were unexpected. There is great historical detail, an interesting mystery with a dash of romance and plenty of drama. Utterly original and captivating, The Angel of Highgate is a brilliant piece of historical mystery fiction with a supernatural twist. 

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