The feature novel from DarkFuse in December is “Angel of the Abyss” by Ed Kurtz. I was not really sure what to expect from the novel going in as I had not read anything from Kurtz before and the cover was a little different than most DarkFuse books. The truth is that this book is a bit different than most of the books that DarkFuse releases.
Graham Woodard loves movies. More specifically, he loves old movies. Especially silent films. When Graham receives a phone call asking him to drop everything and leave Boston as soon as possible for Los Angeles to restore a silent film, he is leery of what exactly the job would entail. This feeling of unease is not helped by the fact that the woman seeking to hire him says that Graham’s ex-wife referred him for the job. Still, Graham is not able to resist. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Graham is going to have the chance to help restore “Angel of the Abyss,” a silent movie that was thought lost forever and whose star actress disappeared mysteriously never to be seen again.
When Graham arrives in LA, nothing is how he expected it would be. He reports for his first day of work only to find that his mysterious employer has been murdered in her office. This launches Graham on a quest to locate all of the reels of the lost movie and learn its lost secrets as well as find his ex-wife who has mysteriously disappeared. Even though “Angel of the Abyss” is almost 90 years old, the film holds a secret and someone is willing to kill in order to protect that secret.
“Angel of the Abyss” was not at all what I was expecting from a DarkFuse book. I went into the book expecting a scary tale of horror, maybe something centered on a ghost, and found something completely different. This really is not a horror novel at all, although there are dark themes in the story, but is rather a work of noir at its best. Kurtz does a great job of juggling the story between the past and the present so that the two flow together seamlessly to form the novel. While either of the stories would have been good on their own, they meld together to form something that neither could have achieved on its own. The tension in the story grew steadily throughout at both mysteries neared their climax so that the reader is almost compelled to keep reading. Kurtz handles the twists in the story deftly and keeps the story grounded in reality so that it is easy to believe that the story could be truth rather than fiction.
“Angel of the Abyss” is a book about characters who are haunted by the past and reads as if the book itself is haunted. The story is dark and moody and reading it feels dangerous. It is almost as if the story could open up and swallow the reader whole. This would definitely be a book of the year contender if it were not for one thing that I felt held the book back from reaching its true potential. Kurtz builds a great story that just wraps the reader up and holds him in its dark embrace and then, when the tension seems to be almost unbearable, the story just ends. After all of the emotion that the story inspires, the ending of the story just felt flat to me as if it just wrapped things up and ended the story. When I felt that there should have been a revelation of some sort, I thought that the ending was somewhat anticlimactic and a little bit of a letdown. Now, do not get me wrong, “Angel of the Abyss” is still a very good novel but just could not quite make the leap from very good to great.
I would like to thank DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Angel of the Abyss” is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in December and is available for preorder now.