Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Death-Angel by J.N. Williamson

(pb; 1981: second book in the Lamia Zacharius quadrilogy)

From the back cover:

"At night she can be anything.

"She can be a sleek black raven or a large vicious dog hunting for human prey.

"She can be a menacing female hawk rising into the starless sky or tall slender woman with deep hypnotizing eyes into which a man might lose himself forever.

"She can be all of these things and more.

"As long as she quenches her three-thousand-year-old thirst for blood. As long as she returns to her long-forgotten coffin. As long as she remains queen of the vampires. As long as she is the death-angel."


Warning: possible (minor) spoilers are present in this review if you have not read the first Lamia Zacharius novel, Death-Coach.

Plot: Lamia, one of the only survivors of the cataclysm that destroyed part of Thesaly, Indiana, has moved on to Indianapolis, where she is working with a scientist (Frank Triladus) who is conducting experiments in psychic phenomena -- particularly psychometry, where a psychic can tell what the history of an object is by simply touching it. Lamia's work with Triladus is no idle endeavor, for with his help she can get what she needs to destroy the voracious, slaughtering Aether, a dragon-like creature freed from its underworld prison (the Vale of Aphaca, located on the outskirts of Thesaly) at the end of Death-Coach.

The Aether desires -- and can bring about -- the end of mankind and vampirekind, something Lamia may play a vital role in preventing*.

Death-Angel, like its source book, is a mixed-genre B-movie work. It brings together kaiju-style monster fighting, psychic phenomena, sex- and blood-based horror and an anti-hero whose abilities and outlook are distinctive. Judging by the over-the-top humor and sudden tonal and genre shifts, Williamson must have had fun putting together this intentionally cheesy, sometimes overly-chatty and always strange novel. It did not grab me like Death-Coach did, but it is still fun, and, more importantly, its own beast.

Death-Angel is worth owning, as an odd, entertaining work, and a continuation of the story begun in its source book. Followed by Death-School.

[ *Note: Whoever wrote the back cover blurb for Death-Angel did the book a disservice by misrepresenting it as a typical sex, blood and vampirism offering. Rather, this is a quirky, tonal jump-cut work, with a protagonist (Lamia Zacharius) who -- while a predator on a smaller scale -- intends to save the world (by and large) by preventing a larger predator (the Aether and his ilk) from running rampant through it. When deciding whether or not to read Death-Angel, try to look past its overly familiar back cover blurb. Even if you end up not liking it, at least then you will have given it a fair shot!]

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