Title: Strange Angel
Author: Adam P. Knave
Publisher: Die Monster Die! Books
Release Date: April 9, 2009
Strange Angel, a collection of urban fantasy novellas written by Crazy Little Things and Stays Crunchy in Milk author Adam P. Knave, tells the story of Susie Sparrow, a sixteen-year-old girl with a rather unusual set of responsibilities. In addition to doing her homework and walking her family’s dog, Ringo, Susie spends her nights and weekends fighting “the possessed”: human bodies controlled by “demons.”
Susie follows a long tradition of young female heroines with great responsibility — perhaps the most noteworthy of which is Joss Whedon’s ever popular Buffy (the vampire slayer) — and Knave does an excellent job of addressing the reality of Susie’s double life rather than skirting or ignoring the issue completely. Unlike Buffy, however, Susie Sparrow’s high school life has the added complication of strange new powers that allow her to manipulate heat and fire. The large, flaming wings that accompany these abilities are more difficult to hide, however, and as the stakes are raised and Susie’s “mission” becomes more and more dangerous, she finds herself reluctantly relying on the source of her newfound abilities — a being named Ferapont who claims to be an angel and has merged with Susie’s consciousness.
Strange Angel is broken into five books: “In The Beginning,” “Genesis,” “Exodus,” “Revelations,” and “The Book of Lamentations,” four of which were first published as stand-alone stories or volumes. The first book, “In The Beginning,” was published in 2005 as a short story in Dark Furies: Weird Tales of Beauties and Beasts, while “Strange Angel: Genesis” and “Strange Angel: Exodus” were each published as separate volumes by Die Monster Die! Books in 2006. In 2007 Knave and Die Monster Die! Books released “Strange Angel: Revelations,” but it wasn’t until the 2009 release of the Strange Angel omnibus reviewed here that readers were exposed to the final chapter of Knave’s story, “The Book of Lamentations.”
Although each of the novellas in the Strange Angel omnibus was published individually (and perhaps written separately from one another, as well), the collection works well as a whole entity published in a single volume. All told, the story runs just over 270 pages, including the two or three pages that separate each of the novellas, and although the story’s final installment, “The Book of Lamentations,” reads very differently from the rest of the novellas it provides an excellent epilogue for Strange Angel’s protagonist. A great deal of fiction leaves readers to wonder about the events that take place in the protagonist’s life after the close of the story, but in the case of Strange Angel Knave has provided readers with a glimpse, brief though it may be, of the future — just enough to whet readers’ appetites.
In addition to Susie and her “angel,” Ferapont, Strange Angel is peppered with intriguing characters that readers are certain to love. Personally, my favorite characters are the two police detectives that somewhat grudgingly help Susie and Ferapont take on the possessed, Detective Tucker and Detective Stover. It’s true that Susie spends a large amount of time being frustrated with the people around her — any sixteen-year-old girl with power over fire and huge, flaming wings probably would be — but Tucker and Stover provide Susie with openings that lead to some of her funniest lines. In addition, the two detectives provide some comic relief of their own, and in joining Susie and Ferapont (who they can’t see or hear) on their seemingly suicidal mission they also provide the protagonist with the only ongoing camaraderie that she enjoys outside of her own mind.
Strange Angel is an action-packed, dramatic read that will spur readers onward as Susie and Ferapont grow together to overcome the evil forces that threaten the world. Throughout the five novellas, Knave does an excellent job of painting a picture for the reader — no easy task in an action-packed fantasy book that involves explosions, “angels,” flaming wings of death, and various other fantastic elements. Although it starts off slow, Strange Angel will take readers by surprise as they discover a world of occult thrills and bloody action that will capture their imagination and keep them coming back for more.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
For more information on Strange Angel and Adam P. Knave’s other works you can visit the author’s official website at www.adampknave.com, and be sure to check out our interview with Adam in which he discusses his writing style, literary influences, and even his favorite childhood cartoons.