Stolen Angels by Shaun Hutson

I read Hutson quite a lot as a teenager – all those old shlock horror novels like Slugs, Breeding Ground, Relics, Victims. What I remember most about them is that they all started well, but somehow lost their momentum about halfway through. Hutson has admitted in numerous interviews that he’s just in it for the money, and to be perfectly honest, it shows. However, after a long gap of many years, I decided to give one of his more recent novels a try. And boy, is Stolen Angels different.

Gone are the scenes of explicitely detailed bodily dismemberment, which were the main focus (and selling point) of his older novels. In their place we have a genuinely engaging storyline about a child abuse ring and a Satanic cult. What I said about Hutson’s novels losing their momentum is certainly not true of this one. It held my attention to the end.

The end – ah. I daren’t spoil it, but will say that I was disappointed. To some extent it feels as if Hutson said, “Oh, I couldn’t be bothered with this. I think I’ll just sock it to the reader and end it all right here.” The whole story is kind of left hanging in mid-air. At best, the only credit I can give the ending is that it’s highly unexpected.

Something I found hard to stomach about the principal characters was how ignoble they were. There’s something about this novel that seems to say that honesty and honour and nobility and respect for your fellow man do not exist on planet earth.

I’ve been quite critical, but I’m giving this novel three stars out of five because I can’t deny that there was something about it that just kept me reading.

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