Angel of Highgate

Written by Vaughn Entwistle
Review by Steve Donoghue

Although Entwistle’s debut novel takes place in nineteenth-century London and features a louche, irresponsible lord as its narrative focus, it’s nevertheless difficult to compare Angel of Highgate to anything else; this is a daringly original melange of many different genres and styles (as readers will discover immediately in the book’s brilliantly subversive first scene).

Lord Geoffrey Thraxton isn’t a typical hero or even a typical anti-hero, and the man who eventually becomes his arch enemy, the wondrously drawn Silas Garrette, is far more complicated—and disturbing—than a conventional Victorian villain. The book’s plot, involving everything from corpse-takers to a stereotypical mystery woman (and almost all of it revolving around creepy old Highgate Cemetery, much like Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry), moves steadily along, but the real attraction here is Entwistle’s cheerfully confident prose, which sparkles and unsettles by turns. Enthusiastically recommended.