NESFA Members' Reviews


by S. P. Somtow

Tor, ISBN 0-312-85931-7, 1998, 381pp, US$24.95

A book review by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1998 Evelyn C. Leeper

Walt Whitman. Zombies. Abraham Lincoln's funeral. Voodoo. Lord Byron. A panther woman. Edgar Allan Poe. And who better to write about all this but a Thai writer?

Only in America.

Well, yes, but all this makes DARKER ANGELS a hard book to review. I liked it a lot, but much of that may be due to the presence of Walt Whitman as a character. I find Whitman fascinating, not just as a poet, but as an observer of the Civil War. And DARKER ANGELS has a lot of that sort of observation of the Civil War, even if it is leavened with voodoo.

But if you're not a Whitman fan, I'm not sure how you'll react to this. The structure is very complex with Griffin Bledsoe telling Tyler Tyler telling Jimmy Lee Cox telling Zachary Brown telling Mrs. Grainger about the strange goings-on. (Or something like that--I can't be sure this was quite this nested. There may have been some pops on the stack I missed.) The atmosphere is there, but the late appearance of Lord Byron and Edgar Allan Poe was in some way the straw that broke the camel's back, and I have to say that there's just too much going on here to make a satisfactory novel for most people.

But I can't *un*-recommend this either. Ultimately, all I can is that here is what this. If you think it sounds interesting, give it a try. If you think it would give you a headache, give it a miss.

%T      Darker Angels
%A      S. P. Somtow
%C      New York
%D      1998
%I      Tor
%O      hardback, US$24.95
%G      ISBN 0-312-85931-7
%P      381pp

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