Angel Manor by Chantal Noordeloos, Horrific Tales, p/b, £8.99/Kindle, 99p, Website
Reviewed by Dave Brzeski
It’s probably not possible to review a haunted house novel without comparing it with the best example of the genre, which is, as far as I’m concerned, Shirley Jackson’s brilliant ‘The Haunting of Hill House’. In this case, I was reminded of the two film versions. The original: subtle, suspenseful, genuinely scary. The remake: effects laden, spectacular, awful. If anything, what Chantal Noordeloos has achieved here is a blend of those two extremes. There’s a lot more build up of suspense than in many of the more gory type of horror, but she doesn’t have all the nastiness occur off-camera, so to speak. And there’s a good helping of serious nastiness in this book.
The most common concept for the haunted house novel is that of an evil presence in the building, which tries to exert its influence in some manner over the occupants. In this case, it’s way more complicated. It’s a case of evil being done to prevent a greater evil, which means if the occupants win, things could get much much worse.
It’s by no means a perfect book, but it’s a pretty good first novel. If anything disappointed me, it was the last couple of chapters, which dealt with the aftermath, which I felt were a little rushed. This book is the first in the ‘Lucifer Falls’ series, and I felt the events immediately following the main action of the book would have been better left for the sequel, where they could have been given the space they needed.
It’s worth mentioning that the book has been extensively re-edited since its initial publication, and now reads much better for that.