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Mary Lynn Woebkenberg
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
When reading my comments, please know that I am a scientist and have never been known for being a stellar literature student. I tend to be far more literal. It will be interesting to see how closely my interpretation matches Michael Vorhis’s intentions.
Here are some thoughts on “Archangel”:
I found Michael Vorhis to be quite the storyteller with a rather noir telling style. His style is both engaging and riveting resulting in the proverbial page-turner. His style is neither for the illiterate nor for those looking for “dumbed-down” reading. If you failed to pay attention when studying English grammar, you will not stand the test of his command of the English language and he will send you to the dictionary to decipher “alluvial plain”, “ignoble”, and “Northern Goshawk”. He uses quite clever oxymoronic visuals like “bouquet of horrors” (my personal favorite). The book is smartly written and is compelling and gripping from the outset. I enjoyed it very much.
The book is rich in themes and metaphors. Thematically, good versus evil is present on many levels. What makes the author’s themes more compelling than the garden variety good versus evil is that his “good” is not pure good. It is flawed good….. it is good with flecks of imperfection. However, there is still a clear distinction between good and evil. For example, Mick is flawed good battling the far more evil Lucius. The townsfolk are flawed good battling the more evil mindless-minions of Lucius. There is a parallel, albeit not quite as clear, distinction between the townsfolk battling the tribe. Thematically, many characters wrestle with, and some defeat, past demons. The most notable of these is Mick, but this struggle also befalls Gabriella, and the town. I believe I will address this more when I talk about the characters. There is a loss of faith theme in the story. Certainly Mick loses faith in himself because of his perceived failure in a “previous life”. The town has lost faith in itself and cannot seem to do anything but watch itself die a slow death. There appears to be little hope on Mick’s part and virtually none on the town’s part. There does seem to be an unstated rebound from the loss of hope by story’s end.
Religious metaphors loom large in this work. Some of the religious themes and representations are more obvious than others. The more obscure ones may exist only in this reader’s mind. The very title of the book, “Archangel”, starts us off. Michael (Mick) is one of Roman Catholicism’s named archangels…..but Gabriel (Gabriella) in also a named archangel. So that brings us to who is the “Archangel”? Is there only one? Is Mick, through the hand of God, sent to be the guardian archangel of the town? Of Gabriella and Angelo? Is he sent there to find and to save himself? Is Gabriella the guardian archangel of Mick? Is it she who watches over Mick and leads him to “salvation”?
Perhaps Mick, Gabriella, and Angelo (angel) are a metaphor for the Holy Family with Mick being Joseph and a “step-father” to Angelo who, with his mother, are a wonderful modern day Madonna and child. And we cannot forget that Joseph was warned in a dream by the angel of the Lord to protect the Holy Family by fleeing into Egypt so that the Child might be spared the sword of Herod’s soldiers.
Further, we must mention that Lucifer (Lucius) was once an archangel. There is no guarantee that being an archangel results in eternal happiness or goodness.
Also along religious lines, it is interesting to note that at no point does Mick seem to turn overtly to God for help or redemption. Mick never seems to go heavenward for assistance when he is in seemingly hopeless situations for which no mortal could provide help. Perhaps Mick has lost faith not only in himself. The good news is that God doesn’t always send us into situations for which we are prepared, but, as He did with Mick, He equips us for situations into which He sends us.
The characters in Archangel are very human and very raw. Mick Calahan is truly a tortured soul on more than one level. The most stunning is that incident which is the deepest source of Mick’s lifelong despair. We watch him work through scenario after scenario wherein he is presented with situations and circumstances that test the man Mick really is, the man he has really become. He ran from his first life, seems ill-suited for his second life, the priesthood, and the third/future life?
Recalling that Lucifer (Lucius) was once an angel, we look at another very troubled soul who is haunted by vial demons. He has gathered his evil followers. He is demonic and disturbed, but not without his wily charm.
Gabriella, like Mary, carries many sorrows in her heart. She worries much about her son. She is troubled by the disappearance and loss of her husband.
Vorhis’s writing style keeps the dialogue true to each character. Each character is consistent and credible.
The only place in the novel where I found any imbalance was in the description of Mick enjoying his hobby. Hang gliding for Mick is a complete joy and escape. The deep, detailed description of the process and experience come from the author’s parallel love affair with, and shared experiences with, the hobby. This allows the author to provide a deep, deep description of the emotional, physical, and spiritual experience this hobby provides him. Nothing else in the book in afforded this personal depth – hence the imbalance.
Since I have written this, I will now allow myself to read Vorhis’s second novel, and hope that I get equally caught up in it. Continue to write, Mr. Vorhis, it is clearly your calling as well as your passion. How fortunate you are to be able to live your dream.