Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Black Angel, by John Connolly

This book, while still outstanding, came as a bit of a disappointment. Not even for the plot itself, but, I thought the book would be a John Connolly wrote romp through Europe, and it wasn’t.Parker’s part in Europe only took up a small part of the book. Still, a very good book, filled with Connolly’s usual skills, but with a few more improvements needed than his later books.

I always find his writing style interesting. You can see the journalistic style seep in when he tells a tale from the past, that doesn’t always affect the plot of the story but fully fleshes out the world of the book. In some ways it reminds me of a remembrance of stories passed by mouth around a campfire late at night, before books were so easily accessible. True, this style does break the pacing of the story at times, but it is never too overbearing. I for one love the style, but it really depends on what you like yourself.
I found the villain in this story initially to be a bit of a letdown, but then I found him to be terrifying. Brightwell, grotesquely fat, whose mere arrival causes visions of terror. It’s quite a good play on the trope of heavy-set people as being the bullied, or the gluttonous or the comedic sidekick. Although, he doesn’t quite have the larger than life aura of the previous or future villains. The reason, in my opinion, is that we actually see the villain’s main acts with our own eyes, rather than see the aftermath or hear about them, a la Mr. Pudd or Herod.

Also, and this is the biggest flaw in the book, Angel and Louis characters seem to change in this book. Yes, I understand characters do grow through a series, but I’ve read The Reapers and every other book but the unquiet, and this sudden change doesn’t really fit. There’s something wise and prophetic about their chats with Charlie now, but not intelligent and common sense oriented as their past talks.
My final comment about this book is that it can be slightly overwritten. Like for God sake John Connolly, you don’t need to prove that you’re a literal good writer, the proofs already in the plotting.

Character 8/10: Characters are a pretty big deal to me, and I’m slightly in love with Connolly’s characters. They’re just so real and deep and flawed and...seriously the list of positive descriptions could go on and on. It’s only an eight, because I have read better wrote characters, and Angel and Louis’ mid book transformation. I also get a little bit bemused at the macho manly chats between Charlie and his friends, but that’s part of the characterisation.

Setting 7/10: Now this is an author that makes a setting come alive. He adds in tales of the past to really flesh out the environment, and it really makes it a joy to read.

Plot 9/10: This is the first John Connolly plot that actually surprised me. Usually, I read it to enjoy the ride, not actually be surprised by non-character related revelations.

Final: 24/30
An outstanding continuation of Parker’s story that is slightly dragged down by my own pre-conceptions and a slight discontinuity with two characters characterization. 

Have you read any of John Connolly's books or any books of a similar

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