I picked up a great quick read this weekend that was as enjoyable as it was easy to read. Angel Of The Underground was not at all what I expected as it has a distinctly Exorcist vibe to the cover art and the jacket description reads like a young adult novel, but I found I appreciated it more than I would have expected with such a quick short read.
Angel of the Underground by David Andreas is a fun romp through a derelict doll factory. This, his debut novel, certainly speaks to the type of writer he aspires to be. It is character-heavy with just the right amount of suspense and gore to make it a horror purist’s dream. It is laden with dread and just gory enough to remind you of the 80’s slasher films. This book at just over 100 pages reads like a short story in the best ways. It is easy to read and get lost in for several hours. Angel is perfect for a vacation from reality without being trite or overly complicated. It is simplicity at its best.
The story revolves around our protagonist Robin, an orphan from a Catholic home for children. A beloved nun is the steward of these forgotten souls. Robin and the other remaining child are removed from the home when a series of grisly deaths befall the facility’s other charges. The two children are taken to foster families and placed far from one another for their protection.
Robin is placed in a multi-generational foster home with two adopted sons. The story really begins there and at times reads like a coming of age love story. The story leans heavily on religious tones and uses strict catholic dogma as a skeleton on which to build a compelling tale. The first 3/4 of the book reads like a crime mystery novel and then smacks the reader in the face with the surprising ending and violent final showdown.
I won’t give away spoilers but the reveal is great and shocking. The shift in tone from crime procedural to strict horror is effective. For lovers of Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn this is the book for you. The abrupt change in pace and timbre helps compel the reader through to the satisfying finale.
The book opens in a very successful manner building the crime mystery feeling. A series of paragraphs, separated by asterisks, that read like a police blotter. These facts give the reader the needed backstory and set the tone. In particular, the first paragraph is reminiscent of the recorded crime scene footage we are provided in the original 1974 Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Three children recently checked out of the Hartman Catholic Group Home in unspeakable ways. Their murders are amongst the worst ever committed on Long Island. I haven’t blamed God for not protecting them, but I am coming to believe His ways are as mysterious as they are malicious.Angel of The underground
The unease and confusion is palpable from Robin from those very first words and the reader is right along with her on her ride to the new foster family. The cold treatment from her Social Worker set the stage for the impersonal nature of her previous adult experiences with the exception of the nun. The clear concise voice of our heroine is heard as much as felt right from the first paragraph.
Her’s is a voice unmarred by trivial words or emotions. The characters are exceedingly well developed, especially for a novel of this length. The story does not suffer however from the expanded character evolution as it serves to advance the story and draw the reader in. The words from Robin and Barry in particular leap off the page and into our heads where they take residence.
I heard as much as read their thoughts and feelings, much as if they were my own. The thoughts of Barry you would rather not experience however as his is a sad and dark existence void of all but the smallest of light. He is as greasy on the inside as he is on the outside. In sharp contrast, Robin is fresh and optimistic even in her dire circumstance and she practically radiates warmth. By the end of the story, I felt I knew these characters in an almost visceral way that made the shocking ending even more enjoyable.
The character choices were well thought out and mature. Robin, in particular, is excellent and truly a revolutionary character, especially for this genre. This is not a weak-minded babe in the woods, despite her size and age. She is strong-willed and well written. Robin has wants and needs and questions her life just as any teenage girl would. She is a girl who has had to grow up fast and has the emotional scars to prove it but maintains the mental fortitude to remain brave and fight. This is a heroine for today not the quick falling, boob-bouncing victim of slasher films in the past. In an era of the #metoo movement, she is a welcome fighter.
Everything about this short novel worked and I strongly recommend it. Whether you enjoy soft or hard horror there is something for everyone. I look forward to reading more from David Andreas. This is a strong first showing and bodes well for his future as a master of this genre.
Angel Of The Underground can be found on Amazon, at any brick and mortar bookstore, Barnes and Noble or visit the publisher’s page Kalie Jones Books/Oddities for additional authors and books. Check out the author’s excellent website www.spattercritic.com for thousands of his short reviews on horror movies. He really knows his horror!
Did I get it right? What other similar novels have you read lately? Let us know your thoughts. If you have a suggestion for another book we should review do not hesitate us. The easiest way is to subscribe down below so you will get the latest news and reviews. Until then Broaden Your Horizons.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.