First published back in November of 2014, ‘Angel Manor’ formed the first instalment in Netherlands born author Chantal Noordeloos’ proposed ‘Lucifer Falls’ trilogy.

DLS Synopsis:
They had a sacred duty to perform.  The Summer Solstice was upon them and the blessed ones in The Holy Angels Convent knew their sacred duty.  There was only one way to ensure the safety of the seal.  There must be sacrifices.  There must be bloodshed.  More children must die.

But Sister Anne thinks there might be another way.  Calling upon an ancient primal force, together with Sister Agatha, they command it to pull the shadow creatures back through the cracks through which they escaped.  A ritual that could mean the end to all the sacrifices.  But one final sacrifice needs to be made.  And Sister Anne knows that her she will be amongst the many that will perish that night.

Following the ritual, Sister Agatha realises that she is now bonded to the place by blood.  She accepts that it must now fall upon her and her bloodline to keep the spirits within.  To ensure that they never get out of Lucifer Falls.

That night the convent burnt to the ground killing twenty-eight faithful nuns and an estimated fifty orphaned children.  Sister Agatha and one of the young orphaned girls were the only two survivors to walk away from the convent with their lives.  Later they would return to that remote hill on the Scottish Isle of Skye in order to build a large Victorian mansion in honour of the burned down convent and those that perished there.  A vast stone building they named Angel Manor.

It has now been almost two-hundred years since that fateful night.  But Angel Manor still stands.  And following the passing of her mad Aunt Miriam, Freya Formynder learns that she has inherited the great house.  Together with her friends, Bambi Green and Oliver Jardin, Freya decides to move from the Netherlands to convert the rundown mansion into a hotel.  However, upon arriving into Lucifer Falls, the trio find that the inside of the property is in a far worse state than they could have imagined.

But Freya is unperturbed by the amount of work required.  Deep down she is hoping that through what they are doing, there is a way to change the past, and maybe bring light onto a very dark family history.

Freya employs the services of a local group of contractors who are trying to instil a sense of discipline in their young apprentices.  Within a matter of days The Second Chance Project has arrived and begun the restoration work.  But as the hard labour gets underway, strange things start occurring in the eerie passageways of Angel Manor.

However it seems the arrival of living souls into Angel Manor has had a dramatic effect on the building.  The spirit of Sister Agatha has been disturbed from her eternal rest.  And if the barriers to Sister Agatha’s resting place have been broken, the other boundaries would almost certainly soon follow.  Their absence would awaken the lost souls trapped inside Angel Manor.  But there were worse things.  The living might release the Angels themselves…

DLS Review:
I think it’s true to say that a fair proportion of us find nuns inherently creepy.  Perhaps it’s their half-hidden appearance, or their seemingly quiet judgment of us, or maybe it’s down to their utter devotion to a purely spiritual way of life.  Whatever it is, for many of us, these quietly spoken servants of a supposed higher power just bring on the shivers.  So why the hell not incorporate these devotional worshippers into a creepy-ass horror story?  Why not indeed!

Author Chantal Noordeloos can certainly weave a tale or two.  Her writing style is direct and utterly unpretentious.  There’s absolutely no padding and literary waffling in her writing; just straight to-the-point storytelling with an abundance of love for her characters.

And by Lucifer’s beard don’t the characters stand out from Noordeloos’ work?  So often sporting such strong personalities, usually alongside befitting and lovingly-fabricated personal traits; the characters feel real, individual, interesting, and characters that ultimately you can identify and sympathise with.

However, what’s most interesting about Noordeloos and her work is the way she just doesn’t hold back when she wants to unleash the real gruesome horror that been mouldering away at the back of her mind.  At first you may feel lulled into a seemingly run-of-the-mill ‘haunted house’ scenario, but be warned, things are about to get pretty darn nasty.

Yes the setting itself is all very James Herbert ‘Haunted’ (1988) meets Graham Masterton’s ‘The House That Jack Built’ (1996).  However, as the rotten things start to get underway, Noordeloos’ story begins to mutate into a tale that edges towards something perhaps now a little closer to Richard Matheson’s ‘Hell House’ (1971).  Mix in a host of visceral imagery that feels as if it’s been pulled off a Wurdulak album cover, and you’re potentially getting close to the terrors that Noordeloos has up her sleeves.

In fact, at times ‘Angel Manor’ verges on splatterpunk with its delightfully over-the-top graphicness.  One scene in particular comes straight to mind.  It’s almost as if the pages have been ripped right out of a Shaun Hutson novel.  You’ve got yourself the reanimated corpse of Bam’s incestial dead brother, Chuck, who subsequently rapes a frantic young female in the darkened passageways of Angel Manor with plenty of stomach-churning rotting-flesh gusto.  It casts your mind back to the maggot-rich zombie ejaculation scene from Hutson’s ‘Assassin’ (1988).  Only Noordeloos adds on an extra Lucio Fulci style eyeball-skewer to top it all off with.  Oh you’ve gotta just love it!

At the end of the day ‘Angel Manor’ delivers a horror story that’s got it all in there.  It’s obvious from the outset that Noordeloos is loving writing the story.  There’s so much energy and entertaining gruesomeness in the tale.  The characters glue it all together, but ultimately underneath it all, is a story that not only creeps you out, but also flings you to the flesh-hungry undead nuns with its unrestrained no-holds-bared devotion to in-your-face horror and the worship of absolute splatter.  By the time you turn the very last you’ll be surprised that there’s not blood dripping down your own walls.

Bring on the next instalment.  Bring on the angels.  Bring on the absolute horror of it all…

Oh, and to top it all off fellow horror book reviewer, the Scottish ginger nut that is Jim McLeod, makes an appearance in the tale!  Good work.

The novel runs for a total of 385 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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