Tuesday, 14 June 2016


The Angel of Highgate by Vaughn Entwistle
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 1783295341
ISBN-13: 978-1783295340
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

With the Revenant of Thraxton Hall and The Dead Assassin under his belt, here Vaughn has Lord Geoffrey Thraxton enjoying a night with Maisy, a good-humoured lady of the night re-enacting one of his sexual fantasies in Highgate Cemetery, which is also home to his own former family. His enjoyment done, he sends Maisy on her way, his pocket less weighted down by a single coin and doesn't expect to see a lone woman lurking around.

Algernon 'Algy' Hyde-Davies is his chum and the first to hear about his encounter with a female ghost, or as Geoffrey puts it, an angel, and Algy thinks his friend has seen nothing more than a vision due to the thickness of the fog that night.

Geoffrey is a rebel, a comic and philanderer, he also doesn't mind causing public scenes in the worst of situations and social gatherings, so it's no surprise that when he thinks he's seen a ghost in the cemetery, he's instantly obsessed with her and the possibility he could be right. Geoffrey's clash with Augustus Skinner, a critic ends in the two of them duelling on Wimbledon Common. And as Entwistle says, "One man will walk away from the duel. The other would be carried." And as duelling with pistols is illegal, at that time, anything could happen. Thraxton is bold, wild unruly like a child and utterly unafraid of death, which others note after his prior antics. Danger is imminent and one of the two men is sure to die during the duel, yet Entwistle isn't beyond creating a little humour before the end is near.

As in most novels set in this period, both Thraxton and his fellow Algernon indulge in the usual opium and laudanum as well as drinking and dallying with ladies of the night, bringing a touch of the cad to the story that is historically accurate and a setting that lets the reader use their imagination. Readers will also be astounded at how jolly Thraxton could be in such a dark and foggy time. After a stint in a drug den, the pair are ousted into the night where Thraxton sees the mysterious woman again, this time though, readers might think it's the result of the drugs. As most people have come to think, ghosts and spirits rarely exist, but one vigil later and Thraxton is met with his visitation, and the fact that she must be very much alive and, more strange, reveals her name to him.

Now that he has his new ghost, and woman companion, Thraxton feels he has been sent an angel to change his ways in the hope he would become a better man. While she devotes her time to helping others who are less fortunate, he sinks into every type of base desire around. Only when he is in her company does he realize that he should think more of others, but while he is trying to become a better member of society, there is someone in the shadows plotting his doom.

The Angel of Highgate is the perfect romp through Victorian England's darker side topped with a very humorous dose of comedy to keep the reader suitably filled.