Ashes and Angelwings
by Greg Stolze
©White Wolf, 2003
"What are you?" Keene asked, in the tone of a man who finds a cockroach in his birthday cake".
Every so often, you find a novel which looks like it might be quite interesting. Then you buy it, read it and Lo and behold; It turns out to be… even better.
It’s been a while since I found one of those, ladies and Gentlemen, but Ashes and Angel Wings
definitely cuts the cake. This book has it all. There's Mob culture, deranged psychopathic violence, dark humour, and some flashy dialogue in New Jersey accents.
And then there’s angels and demons. Oh, Yes. Angels and Demons. Some of these remember the past, others have lost the plot entirely and are making up their own scripts.
The – for lack of a better word - hero of the story is Harvey Ciullo, one of life’s losers who finds himself in serious trouble with the local Mob enforcer. He thought the Cubs were due, made a real stupid bet and owes the crime lords a hidious amount of money. Enter Micky Diamonds who gets hired to scare old ‘Hawv’ senseless, but who, today, suffers from a real fucking bad migraine.
Micky shoots Harvey in the head (by accident, really) and wonders off in the vain hope that a good puke session will relieve his headache.
Enter Hasmed, Knight of the Hated Lash
. A demon from hell, who, by order of his evil Arch Duke Vodantu, escapes into the body of – you guessed it – Harvey. Needless to say that Micky doesn’t survive.
This takes you up to about page 15 of the novel. You sit and read and wonder how brilliant the mind of this Stolze character must be to be able to portray the scenes so vividly, so Real
. You look at the last page of the book and you see that you have over 200 pages to go. Small fonts. YES!
Stolze takes you through lots of murky invention, in-depth characterisation and a coherence which is often missing from books written to a formula. A thoroughly nasty collection of evil minds are played against one another, with the occasional glimpse into the kind of madness that makes us all shudder when we see it in the real world.
Stolze creates a sense of creatures who were old when humanity was in its infancy, and have an agenda to match. The supernatural characters are skillfully mixed with those who are entirely human, although often inhumane. The manipulation of humanity by angels, both good and bad, leads to an evocative exposition concerning the nature of evil. The disturbing part – and the true genious of Stolze – lies in the fact that the Fallen Angels, the No-shit Demons from Hell are utterly believable, better yet, understandable throughout all they do. You find yourself reading about a demon torturing (semi-) innocent bystanders, and it makes sense… You read the explanation and rationalisation of psychopatic behavior and you feel sorry for the perpetrator, because for all the terrors and evil the fallen seek to unleash upon the earth, they are so disturbingly… human.
The back cover says it all:
Stolze's writing has a supercharged V8 under the hood,
a drugged-up biker-chick behind the wheel
and a dead body in the trunk...
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