The Angel of the Abyss by Hank Schwaeble
Cohesion Press (October 31, 2016)
306 pages; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by David Simms
Jake Hatcher is one badass character. He’s been to hell and back, fought for his country only to be put in prison, watched people he cares for die at the hands (or other deadly appendages) or demons and other creatures. In Damnable and Diabolical, Hatcher fought off hell and survived—barely—but has returned with a vengeance in The Angel of the Abyss. If readers aren’t familiar with the Stoker-winning first book, it’s okay. Catching up can be done afterwards. Each works somewhat as a standalone but are best served to be read in order.
Hank Schwaeble is a unique author. He can knock it out of the park with the shorter works, such as in the recently released American Nocturne, or in the other Stoker winner, Five Strokes to Midnight (which contains stories by him, Deborah Leblanc, Tom Piccirilli, Gary Braunbeck, and Christopher Golden).
Penning a horror thriller is a tough deal—keeping the pages flowing while upping the scares is not a simple thing. Schwaeble’s Hatcher series maneuvers the atmosphere into the plot without it slowing down the story. With the fire and brimstone settings, and those are the less creative ones, that’s quite an accomplishment. Imagine Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels crossed with Jack Reacher and one might be able to picture this world. Thankfully, Schwaeble has the sensibilities of a modern writer but infuses a solid noir feel into the narrative, mixing up humor and introspection well, while never taking Hatcher too seriously. This provides the reader with an even tighter story that does actually thrill.
Where does the story head in The Angel of the Abyss? Jake and his companion Amy enter a cavern to battle a demon who’s possessing a girl. They survive, only to be served with a mission that might actually be his toughest yet—and most rewarding. Jake is promised that he can free the soul of a loved one who is shown to be tortured daily – —in return for his. The novel returns favorite players from the previous two entries and introduces a few new ones who are downright chilling.
Like all good thrillers, this one twists and turns in places a reader may not expect, with each chapter ending in a mini-cliffhanger.
Highly recommended for all fans of horror, or thrillers—or both.