When Chloe turns the key to Small Angels, the church nestled at the edge of Mockbeggar Woods where she is to be married, she is braced for cobwebs and dust.What she doesn’t expect are the villagers’ concerned faces, her fiancé’s remoteness, or the nagging voice in her head that whispers to her of fears she didn’t even know she had.
Something in the woods is beginning to stir, to creep closer to the sleeping houses. Something that should have been banished long ago.
Whatever it is, it’s getting stronger, and pretending it’s not there won’t keep the wedding, or the village – or Chloe - safe.
Today, I am delighted to be sharing my review of Small Angels by Lauren Owen. Huge thanks to the author, Tinder Press and Claire Maxwell for inviting me to preview the book and providing me with a proof for the purposes of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.
There is nothing I love reading more than a good Gothic novel and, whilst the midst of a burning summer perhaps isn’t the ideal time to immerse yourself in the dark and gloomy, I absolutely adored Small Angels.
Right from the beginning of the book, the author draws you in to a small, insular and oppressive world, in a village that seems forgotten by the rest of humanity at the edge of the ominous Mockbeggar Woods. The scene setting here is without compare, you will be whisked away to every place you’ve ever seen, watched or read about that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It’s the Slaughtered Lamb from American Werewolf, Manderlay from Rebecca and the Seward Sanatorium all rolled into a feeling. This place isn’t normal, that’s clear from the beginning and, once you’ve been drawn in, it’s impossible to extricate yourself from its grip until the very end.
The premise of the book is entirely unique, but in the best traditions of ghost story telling. I’ve only just realised the connection but, as soon as I started reading this book, I was subconsciously compelled to rewatch Sleepy Hollow because the book gave me a similar vibe to Washington Irving, but with an individual and modern spin. Every character in this book was vividly alive and real, even whilst the tale is fantastical and fey – I was completely invested whilst being transported to a fairytale world. Fairytale in the sense of the original stories by the Brothers Grimm, far from a sanitised, Disney version. This book is not for the timid or terrified.
The best thing about the book is the setting is so alive. The author’s description of the woods, the way she gives life and a voice and intent to the trees and foliage is what brings the book to life and makes it so menacing. Her prose is deliciously purple, so plump and tasty you can almost suck it from the page. This book is one to be devoured, a rich feast of a tale that will leave you full and satiated and wondering when you will next savour something so luscious and satisfying.
I could not put this book down once I had started reading it, and I know it is one I will go back to for a second reading, which doesn’t happen to much these days. My only regret is that I didn’t read it during the darkening days of autumn, when the nights are drawing in and darkness starts to creep around the edge of our thoughts, when things can be hiding in the shadows on the cusp of our dreams. This is the perfect time to gain the most from the reading of Small Angels, when the nights can hide all manner of strangeness from view and you wonder what that whisper was over your shoulder. Buy a copy now, ready to haunt you a little in the evenings as the year begins to wane. You won’t regret it.
Small Angels is out in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats on 2 August and you can pre-order a copy here.
About the Author
Lauren Owen is the author of The Quick and Small Angels. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she was awarded the Curtis Brown Prize, and wrote a PhD thesis entitled ‘Dracula’s Inky Shadows’ on the Gothic tradition in fiction.
Lauren grew up in Yorkshire and currently lives in Oxford.
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