Review: Iron Angel
It isn’t often that we’re completely taken by surprise by how deep the scope of a series is. After finally getting around to reading Alan Campbell‘s SCAR NIGHT, we were left feeling complete and satisfied. The novel was fantastic, and it had a strong and definitive-feeling ending. In short, we had no idea where Campbell was going next with the story.
Just a few pages of IRON ANGEL will have you–as with us–saying, “Holy crap…so THAT’S where this is going.” The scope will throw you for a minute, and then you will begin devouring the pages of the novel that has raised the stakes and the bar significantly higher.
The first thing back is Campbell’s awesome setting. He starts with the familiar. The city of Deepgate has been turned upside-down (literally) and is in shambles. The Spine (order of religious assassins) have basically declared martial law after what happened to their god. We just love the way Campbell describes Deepgate and the current state of things. In addition, we get caught up on Rachel and Dill who are on the run. What this story boils down to is the gods are at the precipice of war. Hell is making an attempt to take over the world, and our main PoVs get involved.
What comes across so quickly is Campbell’s skill at handling the brutality that the world has fallen in to. He evokes so many shocking emotions with so little words. It is seriously incredible. What does this accomplish? Well, mainly it makes you feel for the characters. As awesome as Campbell’s setting(s) is, it is nothing without great characters. Aside from Rachel and Dill, we are introduced to the fantastic character of John Anchor. What he does and who he is should be left to the reader’s discovery, but we loved his scenes. All the characters are so well done that when Campbell is cruel to them, you feel it down to your bones.
A few negatives. First has to do with the character Carnival. All we’ll say is that we hope that wasn’t really all there was to her. If so, it was a bummer and a letdown. However the main issue we had was when the book would go into a new section or “Part.” When Part 2 and Part 3 start, there is a huge moment of disorientation. Where are we? When are we? These questions are not answered right away. It ends up killing every shred of momentum and pacing which is a huge shame. However, once Campbell gets his opportunity to describe everything, it’s all good. We just wish he had handled it better/differently. It was SO jarring.
In the end, those negatives were not near enough to bring down the novel. Everything going on here is just so deftly handled. This series has almost worked its way into the realm of Weird Fiction not unlike Miéville and Lebbon’s ECHO CITY…just with much less questionable content. Aside from the points mentioned above, the pacing is completely awesome. Expect to burn through this novel even quicker than SCAR NIGHT.
The ending was nuts. We saw what was happening, and we were literally screaming for the characters to take notice of the impending doom. Where SCAR NIGHT felt like a contained story, IRON ANGEL ends in an ENORMOUS cliff-hanger. GOD OF CLOCKS is next, and we may have to put off some other reading to finish off this series. Everyone should be reading this series. Alan Campbell seems to be one of the best authors no one is reading. Fortunately we can rectify this oversight. All this said, we are worried about book 3. It could either make the series completely awesome, or take it down a few notches. We’ll see…
Recommended Age: 16 and up.
Language: At times. It comes in spurts and can be pretty strong, but there isn’t much of it.
Violence: Some of these scenes were horrifying. It isn’t that they were shock-value, or hack-and-slash-grotesque. They were just so amazingly well written.
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