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Darker Angels [Paperback]

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining historical horror novel Nov. 19 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
In 1865, the corpse of President Lincoln lies in public view in New York. Widow Paula Grainger pays her respect to her country's assassinated leader.
She meets Walt Whitman and his companion Zachary Brown. The two males, along with Paula's servant Phoebe, tell her a strange story starring her late husband, Aloysius and similar beings. Aloysius apparently won the African Phoebe in a card game. The woman is one of the DARKER ANGELS with the ability to change into a leopard. In spite of having attained the mysterious Phoebe, Aloysius failed in his efforts to reanimate Paula's dead children. However, the one-eyed shaman Joseph apparently tasted success as a necromancer who ultimately planned to raise the dead black Civil War soldiers.
DARKER ANGEL is a metaphysical horror tale that takes readers on a dark tour on nineteenth century America. The story line switches narrators, giving it a short story feel inside a featured length novel. This technique will divide readers as some will find it distracting from the main story line while others will feel the subplots have an opportunity to fully develop. The historical side of the tale shows that S.P. Somtow did his homework so that his supernatural creatures fit in a world populated by authentic known people of the era. If you prefer non-stop action, this tale is a bust. If you relish an eerie surreal novel, this tale is a cause to celebrate.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Reads Like it was Written by a Zombie April 17 1999
Format:Hardcover
When I read the description of "Darker Angels" I was excited - I love alternate histories and fantasy books involving historical figures, a la J. Gregory Keyes or Tim Powers. The cast list was impressive - Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Poe, Marie Laveau, George Gordon (Lord Byron). But this shambling, soulless mess of a book didn't even live up to the Kirkus Review.
It is perhaps appropriate that a novel about zombies in antebellum America be as lifeless and dead as this one. But seeing the aptness is not the same as being entertained or enlightened. Somtow's primary gimmick - having a character within the story told by the narrator tell a long story, in which another story is told by another character, in which another story is told by a character in THAT story - quickly becomes tedious and confusing. If you like that sort of thing read Melville, who can pull it off with artistry and subtlety. Somotow just doesn't have the chops.
Add to all this Somtow's preoccupation with male anatomy and necrophilia and you have a book about as appealing as poodle lasagne.
I'd suggest you give it a miss, or wait until you stumble across it in a used bookstore.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Historical horror Oct. 12 2000
Format:Hardcover
In his earlier novel, MOON DANCE, Somtow created a nightmarish American epic: a tale of the clash between European and Native American werewolves. In DARKER ANGELS he makes a triumphant return to his alternate history where magic and shape-shifters (were-leopards this time around) are real.
At about 200 pages less than MOON DANCE, DARKER ANGELS is in many ways the more successful novel. I must also note that it contains one of the most successful uses of a non-linear narrative I have yet to encounter.
This is not a book for anyone looking for a light and easy horror/dark fantasy read. It deals unflinchingly with war, slavery and homosexuality. But I highly recommend it for readers who aren't afraid to brave the darkness to find the riches therein. DARKER ANGELS may be a work of fiction, but there is more truth in its pages than in many non-fiction history books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Daker Angels Shines Through! Aug. 25 2002
By Rafik
Format:Paperback
I've read MOONDANCE some years ago and was totally capitivated by the story. Now several years later, I come across Darker Angels (though out of print, I got from the used section at Amazon and the service was EXCELLENT!). Here, Somtow weaves another fabulous tapestry of horror, fantasy and history all in one! (Just reading the other better reviews is proof positive.) We even get to see the origin of the most foul Cordwainer Claggett [sic] a villain we met in MOONDANCE. In Darker Angels, the multi-level narration by the different players is fantastic (though at times tricky but works out well in the end). Just a word of warning, this book is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. I look forward to more from this author. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
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