While I will read any and everything, I go out of my way to read horror written by women because I think women are underrepresented in the realm of horror writers. Recently, I had the chance to read Angel Manor by Chantal Noordeloos. I’d seen Chantal abound Facebook, but had never read her work. Now that I have, I will use one word to describe the novel: unapologetic.
Angel Manor begins with what most would call I shocking scene: a bevy of nude nuns performing ritual sacrifice on children. This might go too far for some, but thankfully, I went to Catholic school, so I’m made of pretty stern stuff.
Fast forward to current day and we meet our protagonists. Freya is the new owner of an inherited property and Bam and Oliver are her friends/business partners. But this beautiful house is hiding a dark secret that could destroy everything.
A full-length novel needs several subplots to give the reader a breather from the main conflict and enhance tension. Noordeloos knows this and inserts several just-as-interesting sidebars in addition to the homicidal sisters. Even these mini-plots invoked excitement and fear.
There is no shortage of death in the book. Noordeloos has no problem killing her darlings or describing their demises to the reader in literal gory detail. And what detail it is. Lavishly described, violent, and bloody.
Sex and seduction are also well handled. For me, sex and horror pair well. However, the tone that the bow-chicka-wow-wow takes can pull the reader away from the horror elements of the story. I’ve read some horror novels where I ask myself: When did this become a romance? Not here. Enough care is taken so the occurrence doesn’t read like obligatory sexy time or a “look at my boobies—ooh, I stabbed you!” distraction technique.
The style of writing Noordeloos uses is one I enjoy. Action is paced well and I didn’t wonder how much more evidence the characters needed before they started to do something.
The last section of the book twisted my sympathies with several of the characters. It begged the question: Do the ends justify the means? Are the lives of a few worth risking to ensure that humanity lives on? If so, should those deaths be in the most humane way possible?
Maybe I’ll find out in Book Two. Hope you’ll join me as it’s a worthy read.