I’d been looking forward to some new Bestwickian horror, and beamed when I read of “Angels of the Silences” impending release, and then again – twice as wide – when the beautifully produced novella flopped onto my doormat. I acquired it as part of a generous bonus offer when purchasing another chapbook from Pendragon Press, but I would’ve happily paid the cover price.
The tale concerns our narrator, Emily, and her best friend Biff. They’re likeable goth girls full of attitude and heart, and fairly normal other than the fact that nine months ago they were brutally murdered. They try to keep their other friends from harm, but it soon becomes clear that even undead guardians can’t control the darkness in the world.
Simon’s 1st person prose has always been realistic and Emily proves to be no exception. She’s endearing, intelligent if sometimes naive, loves her friends, and her story shines with that simplistic combination of angst and hope that comes so effortlessly to the young.
The novella reflects subtly on our tribal natures, both its positive and most horrible elements, and I suspect it was inspired by real life events. I also love this idea of the afterlife in which ghosts range from concrete through to mere lurking shadows. The story hints at the reasons, but leaves us to ponder and although I would like to see this concept expanded, there was no need for it here.
This author always stirs me. There’s sobering anger, dark satisfaction, and some incredibly fragile scenes. “Angel of the Silences” made me fill up, so suddenly that it took me by surprise, and I admire anybody who can inflict that merely with simple words on a page.
A one-sitting read, it has real warmth and humour as well as the horror, and should have broad appeal whatever your particular tastes. Put aside the time and savour it.