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Angel Road
Steve Savile
Elastic Press, 228 pages

Angel Road
Steve Savile
Steve Savile's early influences include Peter Cushing and Boris Karloff, H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Belknap Long and August Derleth. He knew that what he wanted to do was write. In 1993, he was a co-winner of Exuberance's Year's Best poll and sold to Fear and Frighteners a handful of his short stories and a novella. He used to live in the North of England but now lives in Stockholm.

Steve Savile Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Houdini's Last Illusion
SF Site Review: Similar Monsters
SF Site Review: Secret Life of Colors
SF Site Review: Icarus Descending

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

You would think, with as much of Steve Savile's work as I have read and reviewed, that he wouldn't be able to sucker-punch me. Silly me; I would, too. But we'd all be wrong because there is no way to predict where Savile's fertile imagination will take readers next. Things never seem to be going quite right in his stories, but it's easy to underestimate how quickly and how completely things can go to hell.

In a collection concentrating on the endless variety of angels, hell is a surprisingly frequent last stop for Savile's characters. Fallen angels. Angels unseen. Angels opting for human form. Throughout the thirteen selections in Angel Road, perhaps it is more accurate to say the possibilities of heavenly hosts weave through the lines of every story. But angels are not the only names and faces to flicker in and out of the shadows closing in on every side. Who, really, is Sascha? Was there ever a Hoke Berglund? And what of the people who claim to have seen them, known them?

In a Steve Savile story, nothing is ever as it should be, but, oddly, at the end of every piece it seems absolutely certain that nothing could be changed. Whatever happens, it is inevitable in hindsight.

Can the tour guide in "Malice" give any other answer for the fate of Bonito? No, no matter what the pain and sorrow, it could be no other way. When Jon Seiber and Kristen meet we can imagine an unlimited number of outcomes of their relationship, but we are absolutely helpless against fate. We are as locked in place as the characters.

In "The Pain, Heartbreak and Redemption of Owen Frost," it would seem that the title would give the tale away, but Owen, Alsiso, and Alsiso's protectors have no actual control of the actions they will take and the consequences they will face. The breathtaking "The God of Forgotten Things" sees the god set on a determined course, but he is not going to reach the destination he foresees. Still, it is as it must be, the reader is forced to admit.

The beautifully illustrated "This Broken Land" has more than Kjell Emanuelsson's striking artwork to make it the centerpiece of the collection. In this one story are all the elements flitting throughout the collection drawn together for a seemingly hopeless showdown. Eri, Herr Medek, and the other characters doubt that they know the conclusion of this unnatural struggle, but, deep within them, they know even if they cannot admit it to themselves. Doesn't Chris Alexander sense the heartbreaking shape the "Angels in the Snow" will take?

But, you need to learn this for yourself. You must read and shiver and sigh and, finally, admit that, yes, all is as it must be. And then, don't be surprised if you start at the beginning and pore over the stories again, hoping that things just might have magically changed after you turned the page and, now, things might be different.

Copyright © 2005 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction, horror, dark realism, and humour. DARKERS, her first novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She is a contributing editor at SF Site and for BLACK GATE magazine. Lisa has also written for BOOKPAGE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Science Fiction Weekly, and SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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