Angels of Music by Kim Newman – Book Review

Title: Angels of Music

Author: Kim Newman

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Alternative History, YA, Teen Fiction

Rating: 5/5

One of my favourite fantasy authors has always been Kim Newman. I discovered him a couple of years ago, when I first started getting into The Gothic, and devoured his alternative history version of the Dracula tale – Anno Dracula – and I loved how he retold the canon in new and imaginative ways. Luckily, I was sent his newest book for review, and I knew from the front cover that I would love it.

angels_music_final_2Angels of Music is a retelling of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera tale (note, very different from the Lloyd Webber musical), and follows the plot of The Phantom running detective/crime fighting underground syndicate made up of talented female agents who solve the crimes that the higher levels of society would like to keep out of the public eye. Basically bohemian Paris’ Charlie’s Angels. The toxic underbelly of Paris is revealed, and with automatons, vampires and mass murderers running riot through the city, it only takes one spark of a flame to ignite a terrifying series of events.

Angels of Music reunites some of Newman’s best loved characters, with Kate Reed and Irene Adler coming into play as one of The Phantom’s agent ‘Angels’, and gives mini stories throughout the novel that links together at the end.

Written in the traditional Newman style of different historical characters coming into play throughout the text, and different historical events being retold to fit the narrative, it felt like coming home to an old friend, and not forced or false at all. I also find myself Googling these events, just to read the real history.

I really enjoyed the different Angels, and with the plot moving forward in a linear fashion, girls leave and get replaced with others. All in all, Newman wrote 18 different Angels, all with different characteristics and back-stories, which provided an interesting read. None of them felt really left out and rushed, and none of them really seemed repeated. I particularly liked THE JAPANESE LADY and the vivacious CLARA.

All in all, this is another brilliant novel from Kim Newman. It hasn’t faltered in quality at all, and I love that he’s gone into another Gothic figure of interest and completely put his own spin on it.

Angels of Music is out now.

28 Days Later (2002) – Film Review

Title: 28 Days Later (2002)

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, and Christopher Eccleston.

Director: Danny Boyle

Genres: Zombie, Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Zombie Horror, Drama, British Cinema

Rating: 5/5

There has always been competition between British and American cinema and TV. Whether it be action, thrillers, chick-flick, or horror, both nations have brought key actors to the forefront of the public eye, and have given us, as viewers, a smorgasbord of excellent films and stars to watch. And with the ‘zombie’ genre, this has been a particular category that both the American and British cinema have cracked. After George A. Romero’s 1968 movie, Night of the Living Dead, we have been swamped with excellent television shows such as The Walking Dead and movies such as World War Zbut it is Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later which has been credited as reinvigorating the zombie genre of films in the early 2000s, and showing that Britain can create zombies which are both terrifying, and fast.

The familiar scenario of the breakdown of society, following the outbreak of the contagious zombie virus and decimating the population of the world is a strong backdrop to this film. However, unlike other zombie films, these zombies are more human in a sense. They run incredibly fast, and have the ability to climb and accomplish more human-esque tasks, such as overcoming obstacles to get to their prey, which is something that zombies have never been able to do in the past. Also, unlike other zombie films, there is a reason for the infection. A man-made virus known as Rage is shown to be tested on
apes in the first five minutes, and then being accidentally released, therefore fleshing out the story. This ‘Rage’ does exactly what it says on the bottle, as it sends the infected into an extreme and perpetual state of extreme anger. This makes them become ever deadlier, and more determined.

We follow the protagonist, Jim, as he wakes from a coma in a deserted hospital in the midst of London and begins to search for survivors and answers. Along the way, he finds a motley crew of survivors and travels to what seems like a sanctuary, a survivor camp set up in a manor house and fortified by the army. However, all does not appear to be a sweet and proper as it first set out to be. With the struggle for power being the key for survival, Jim finds himself thrust into a civil war with those he thought he could trust.

As discussed, along the way Jim finds a band of survivors. And each of them is unique, lovable and different, and yes, some of them have tragic outcomes, but what I find makes this film so good is the quality of the acting, as well as the tension that just oozes out. Compared to traditional slow-moving zombies, Boyle’s are more ‘jump-scary’, as due to their speed, they can just appear, and it makes a chase scene incredibly tense. With a brilliant cast of actors – Irish star Cillian Murphy playing the lead, and Christopher Eccleston as the army major – this film does tug at the heartstrings in different ways. With Boyle’s direction, and Alex Garland’s screenplay (author of The Beach), this film certainly knows how to make an impact. Some of the most haunting scenes in the film show usual busy areas of London, such as Piccadilly Circus, completely deserted, and Murphy as being the only figure. And with the soundtrack, there is a eclectic mixture of tracks, such as Granddaddy’s A.M. 180, which adds to the surrealness of the film, and oddly fits in with the whole end-of-the-world feel.

All in all, this film definitely brought life to the zombie genre. To me, it did pave the way for new zombie enthusiasts, such as myself and it did put a high British standard into the zombie genre.

So what do you think? Please comment below if you have any opinions on the zombie genre, or any suggestions for new reviews!

This film is out on DVD to watch, but please remember that it is rated an 18/R.

So, if you enjoyed:

  • The Walking Dead
  • World War Z
  • Trainspotting (Another Danny Boyle film)

I think you’ll enjoy this!


Buy the DVD (Amazon)