The Scream of Angels by David Haynes

The Scream of Angels and people alike bleed through the pages

The Rating:
Mature Content Rating: R (Disturbing imagery)

In a time before entertainment was about sex, giant explosions, and cocky superheroes. In a time when the fantastic was pushed aside in favour of brutal realism on the stage. In a time when our inner monsters portray themselves for all to see. In this time we find David Haynes, a mentally disturbed writer trying to bleed the murderous thoughts from his mind onto pages in the dark recesses of his lonely room. Oops, I meant Robert Bishop. Did I say David Haynes was in this story? Silly me.

The Good:

In a word (or perhaps phrase): if you liked the Macabre Collection you will love this book. If you have never heard of it, you should go read it right now. The Scream of Angels carries on the Victorian horror style of writing that Haynes has become known for. Mix this with a mystery killer and you have a book that will not cease to amaze.

Who doesn’t love the mentally disturbed? Okay, so maybe you don’t want to be one, but staying at the safe distance of holding a book about one in your hand is quite a pleasant ride. No more “I’m just a normal dude trying to save the world” or some such silliness. Robert Bishop writes down the darkest images his mind can conjure, in hopes to escape the murderous tendencies that follow him by day and torture him by night. The colourful and rich words used in scene description are magnificently mood setting. The mental state of our protagonist enhances that dark tone even further, letting it bleed through the pages and into the minds of the reader.

How did Robert Bishop get to be the way he is? Where do these demons come from that torture him from within, threatening to pour out in acts of murder and mutilation? David Haynes leaves no room for speculation, taking the reader back to Bishop’s childhood, back to his nightly terrors, back to a mental doctor’s office. The back-story (flashbacks) progress with the main story, adding flavour along the way, starting with hints before growing to full reveals. This gives the reader a glimpse into David Haynes’ mind – seeing the¬†work of art was once derived of a tiny seed of dread, sprouting, twisting, and coming into existence as a gnarled tree: The Scream of Angels. Haynes doesn’t just share the facts of Bishop’s past, but feeds the reader with the story itself, diving right in as if re-entering the memories of Bishop. This is a beautiful reversal of the tell vs. show issues that plague many books, showing the flashbacks to be so complete and whole that the reader believes them to be as equally important as the main story they parallel.

The reader not only gets to see this world through the eyes of Robert Bishop, for there is a killer running loose. This killer is not left on the sidelines, but is brought to the front through POV changes. The realism and horror behind the killings reaches a whole new level when the reader sees the acts being performed, or feels the dread of the aftermath through the eyes of the murderer.

The Bad:

You know that a book is good when you have a hard time coming up with something bad to say. This does not happen to me often (I know. Call me cynical), but when it does I am blown away. In a nutshell, the only bad about this book is that I wanted more of it: more of those things that made it good. I would have liked to see more scenes from the antagonists perspective. There was just enough salting the pages to add flavour, but more character development with the killer would have added to our hatred of him. His character wasn’t as well rounded or revealed as it could have been through more attention to what was going on in his mind. This addition has potential to add more shock value to the final reveal, as the reader thinks they know the murderer in and out.

The flashback model that Haynes implements is brilliant and flavourful… mostly. At the beginning it is great, but as the story progresses, I found that there was seemingly less care given to these flash back scenes. They held less meat, and almost slipped into why-is-this-scene-here territory. Again, more character development or attention given to Dr. Cunningham (Bishop’s childhood mental doctor) would have built up these scenes to their pleasant meaty potential.

At the beginning of the book, there is much attention given to Bishop’s personal demons. As the story progresses, however, they take a back seat. I wanted more of Bishop facing his inner demons. If his mind is truly tortured, let the reader experience that torture in all the realism that Bishop himself feels. Haynes shows the potential to write such disturbingly realistic scenes, and I would have loved to see these inner demons taking more of an antagonistic focus throughout.

Conclusion:

This is yet another great work of Victorian horror. It will take you back to a time of realistic and gruesome entertainment. No giant explosions or special effects here, just personal demons and murderers, tortured by their own minds. The only bad thing I can say about this book is that I wanted more of it. Haynes gives us a holistic look at Robert Bishop (the protagonist), taking the reader back to his childhood for a wonderfully implemented flashback effect. The imagery is so real and thoroughly described that you will be transported right into the acts of brutal entertainment that Haynes depicts. If you like rich description, believable story telling, and don’t mind getting your hands a little bloody, this book is right for you.

Where you can find it:

Amazon (COM) (CA) (CO.UK)
Kobo

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