Saturday, April 06, 2013

Review - Gideon's Angel by Clifford Beal - April 6, 2013

Gideon's Angel
Author:  Clifford Beal
Publisher:  Solaris Books, February 26, 2013
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
Genre:  Historical Fantasy
ISBN:  9781781080849 (print)
Review copy: Purchased by The Qwillery

He came back to kill a tyrant. He found the Devil instead. An amazing historical novel with a supernatural twist set after the English Civil War. This is the stunning debut from Clifford Beal.

He came back to kill a tyrant. He found the Devil instead.

1653: The long and bloody English Civil War is at an end. King Charles is dead and Oliver Cromwell rules the land as king in all but name. Richard Treadwell, an exiled royalist officer and soldier-for-hire to the King of France and his all-powerful advisor, the wily Cardinal Mazarin, burns with revenge for those who deprived him of his family and fortune. He decides upon a self-appointed mission to return to England in secret and assassinate the new Lord Protector. Once back on English soil however, he learns that his is not the only plot in motion.

A secret army run by a deluded Puritan is bent on the same quest, guided by the Devil’s hand. When demonic entities are summoned, Treadwell finds himself in a desperate turnaround: he must save Cromwell to save England from a literal descent into Hell. But first he has to contend with a wife he left in Devon who believes she’s a widow, and a furious Paris mistress who has trailed him to England, jeopardising everything. Treadwell needs allies fast. Can he convince the man sent to forcibly drag him back to Cardinal Mazarin? A young king’s musketeer named d’Artagnan.

Black dogs and demons; religion and magic; Freemasons and Ranters. It’s a dangerous new Republic for an old cavalier coming home again.

Melanie's Thoughts:

Gideon’s Angel is set in the mid 1600’s with the cavalier Richard Treadwell on trial for his support of King Charles. He is given a reprieve by Cromwell and exiled to France. He spends the next few years as a gun for hire to the King of France. Despite his success as a soldier, popularity and new life with his mistress Marguerite, he is still living a half life, driven by his need for revenge against Cromwell who exiled him from his wife and children. It’s not surprising that he fairly jumps at the chance to return to England to assassinate the man he believes has nearly destroyed his life. What he finds when he reaches home is nothing like he imagined as he uncovers a plot to kill Cromwell and unleash hell on earth.

Clifford Beal creates a rich and evocative world where history merges with a great paranormal mystery. Beal sets angels, werewolves and demons in the backdrop of Cromwell’s England. The events in Beal’s plot echo those that were actually happening at the time. Then he intersperses other fictional characters from the same period such as D’Artaganan, one of the French musketeers. Beal doesn’t over-egg the prose but describes Treadwell and his life with enough detail that you can smell the unwashed bodies, feel Treadwell’s fear as he faces the demons and sense the bleakness of what lies ahead.

This isn’t one of my favourite periods of history but lends itself quite well to the paranormal elements with the angels and demons blending with the Roundheads and Ranters. I really enjoyed Beal’s portrayal of the vengeful Treadwell. His internal struggle makes him an interesting protagonist. He must prevail over evil despite risking his only chance at revenge. Treadwell’s love for his mistress, Maggie, who follows him to England, is touching and makes the story something more than just series of battles. Beal is very cunning in his development of the plot and there were a few excellent twists that took me completely by surprise.

Gideon’s Angel is a great debut fantasy novel and I will look forward to reading more from this author.

You may have noticed that I did not write the above review. Please welcome The Qwillery's newest Member/Reviewer - Melanie:

I am a voracious reader and glad that books don’t have calories, saturated fats or a high sugar content. I really enjoy epic fantasy, urban fantasy, steam punk and YA with a kickass heroine. When I am not reading I am watching TV , doing something crafty or talking to my two adorable cats (who don’t talk back unfortunately). I like to tweet about reading at @mellidrama or you can see what I am reading at Goodreads.

The Qwillery is completely thrilled to have Melanie on board!


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