Angel of Death (J. Robert King)

I have a thing where I can't not finish reading something. There's a very short list of books I never finished, and they all date from when I was about 8 to 13, and are because I was to young to follow them or too young to bear them, and just haven't got around to picking them up again. They haunt my subconscious.

These days I feel I have to get at least half way to have given it enough of a chance, and once I'm past half way I feel I might as well finish it.

By the time I had wrenched my way through the first half of Angel of Death, I had started to come round to it. By the end I guess I'd enjoyed it in some ways.

What I struggled with through the first half was the erratic jumping between persons and, worst of all, tenses. You experience one character's perspective in first person present tense (something I dislike anyway), plus second person directed at another character. And sometimes past tense. Other perspectives were usually third person past tense. I guess I got used to it, but if someone had told me before I started that it was written in this way, I probably wouldn't have picked it up.

I'm starting to figure out that I prefer character-driven narratives. This is the pattern with things I've enjoyed lately, anyway. The premise of Angel of Death was kinda interesting. But the characters were utterly flat and often behaved unbelievably or in a very contrived manner, given how they'd been set up. It was all tell and no show. THIS IS A BAD EVENT IN HER TROUBLED PAST, OH BOY, NOW YOU KNOW HER MOTIVATIONS. Totally wasn't enough.

The twists and turns throughout are, I suppose, well done. The reader is convinced of the state of the world and, just as you're absolutely certain that that's the way it is, you're being convinced of the opposite. This happens not quite enough to feel like an indecisive cop-out, but isn't far off.

There's gory horror, but it feels appropriate and not over-done. Kudos.

If there were deeper levels of meaning or metaphor intended, which I suspect they might have been, I missed them.

Conclusion: meh, don't bother. But if you've got nothing else to read, you could do worse. If you want my copy you can have it, get in touch.

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