Iron Angel

May 28, 2008

Iron Angel, by Alan Campbell (UK cover)


Iron Angel, by Alan Campbell.


Well. Scar Night was good: very good, in fact, and not just ‘good-for-a-first-novel’ good, but a genuinely interesting and oftentimes quite bloodthirsty fantasy in an exceptionally well-realised new world. Then came the limited edition Lye Street novella, which I’ve reviewed earlier so have no need to go through again. And finally we have this, the official second book in the Deepgate Codex.

And ’tis wonderful. From the Time Bandits-esque spectacle of a man dragging a city-sized, rotting Flying Dutchman manned by gods and the dead across continents*, the rope around his waist cleaving through buildings and armies alike as he walks, to the surreal and monstrous depiction of Hell and its honeycombed, decaying hives of the subconscious being torn asunder by the visually astonishing Worm… and these are just elements of a whole that smacks you over the head almost every page with something new, often grotesque and always marvellous. (I can’t get the scene with the archon being pursued through Hell by a Door [of all things!] out of my head: you have to read it to experience it — just sheer bloody storytelling) The death throes (or are they?) of the eponymous Deepgate city, hanging over the abyss into Hell, are also brilliantly written and genuinely horrific in places.

I can’t say it’s entirely perfect, much as I want to: as other reviewers have mentioned, the scarred, homicidal and insane angel Carnival isn’t in it nearly enough and when she is she’s pretty much worse than useless. And it ends on the most teeth-gnashing I-want-part-III-sodding-now cliffhanger you can think of. Hopefully Campbell’s already writing it, because I for one can’t wait.

I can’t honestly comprehend why anyone remotely interested in fantasy isn’t reading, and loving, Campbell’s work here. And if, for some reason, you couldn’t get into Scar Night, definitely please try this. It’s… well, I’ve run out of superlatives. Just get it.

Recommended to Hell and back. >:D



(oh, and here’s the US cover, which is quite flash, actually… 🙂 )


Iron Angel, by Alan Campbell (US cover)




* Methinks I remember some similar kind of mad spectacle in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen too, which I am very pleased to see exists on DVD and will therefore shortly be acquired. Must’ve seen it twenty years ago but there was a Grim Reaper figure in it that was one of the best and most nightmarish renditions I’d ever seen…

Er, right. End of digression :O )


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