Written by: David Lenton
Reading much like a first draft, Hal Kowalski’s A Dark Angel offers up the foundations of what could have been a good urban fantasy/horror novel. And, if it had just been edited properly, that’s exactly what it could have been. Alas…
The novel’s protagonist is Silas Shivers who, in the eyes of his family, is a successful businessman, husband and father. Unbeknownst to them, however, Silas is also a monster hunter working under contract for Lucifer.
Yes, that Lucifer.
A Dark Angel follows Silas as he struggles under the weight of the lies that he constantly has to tell his family, and as he and his mysterious fellow monster hunter, Jaelle, face off against the former god and current Boogeyman – a creature known as Molecc.
Like I said earlier, there’s a strong foundation for something good here.
Unfortunately, a lot of this potential is wasted by the painfully bad quality of Kowalski’s writing in the first (of three) parts of the book. If not for the fact that I was reading it for the sake of writing this review, I would’ve quite happily given up on A Dark Angel within twenty pages, rather than struggling my way through page upon page of writing that defied the laws of punctuation and grammar with a kind of gleeful impunity.
I did push through, though; for you, dear readers.
And, to my delighted surprise, doing so paid off. Part 2 of the novel delivered unto mine weary eyes prose that was, while slightly marred by the occasional misplaced comma, clunky phrasing and questionable word choice, infinitely more readable than what had come before. To the point where I found myself going back to Part 1 just to prove that, no, I hadn’t actually imagined the horror that I’d been through.
Having recovered, I was able to focus on the actual story. And, yeah, it’s not bad. It’s just not great, either.
While I did enjoy the story of A Dark Angel once I could read a sentence without cringing, I can’t shake the feeling that Kowalski got so wrapped up in his own style of writing that he occasionally forgot about the story itself. Alternatingly weighed down by extraneous details in some parts and threadbare in others, while all the pieces might fit together in the end, there’s a disappointing lack of depth to the characters. As a result, their actions and motivations are sometimes less clear than I believe Kowalski thinks they are.
If this were a first or second draft, I’d be happy to praise it for what it could be, after some much needed editing and finessing of the story. As a final product though, I can’t help but mourn what could have been, and rate it on the basis of what’s in front of me.
As I said previously: alas…
Give it a try here.