Emily and Biff are dead, brutally murdered there corpses hidden from the world in an abandoned warehouse, they seek revenge and redemption from a world that has no idea they are dead and from each other.
Angels of the Silence is an impressive and bewitching ghost story that tackles some powerful and emotional topics with a sensitivity and a maturity that you expect from such a seasoned writer as Simon Bestwick.
This novella is as much about friendships, fitting in and the finality of friendships as it is about revenge and supernatural going ons. Apparently taking its cues from a real life case Bestwick has written an empathic and wholly believable story that places us right in the centre of the girls plight. Disenfranchised from society at large the girls and their goth friends have flocked together and exist on the periphery of their world, never fully fitting in, subject to attacks from the larger youth culture, you would think that their death would free them from the banalities of their everyday life. Sadly this isn't the case for this pair of revenants. They soon find out that thanks to unknown process their ghost form allows them to exist as though nothing had ever happened they possess corporeal spirits that can touch and feel and even consume food and drink, for all intents and purposes they are still alive. This is a stroke of genius from Bestwick, and the passage where this is explained to the girls by a friendly fellow spirit sent a shiver down my spine. It's a wonderful concept where the spirits of the deceased can exist on a spectrum that runs from mere hint of a memory, a sort of mote in the minds eye, right up to the the fully formed physical spirit Emily and Biff possess. The wider picture that scene implied is inspired - a world where we would have no idea if a person was alive or dead. It gave a strange comforting, but tinged with fear feeling that still haunts me a few days after finishing the book.
This scene and the revelation that there is an elevator to the afterlife that the girls can take should they ever feel that their time on earth had come to an end reminded me in a good way of Randell and Hopkirk (Deceased), even down to setting the scene in a tearoom / cafe. It also highlighted the perfectly balanced way in which Bestwick uses a subtle line of wit and humour in the story to give the girls a fantastic and realistic characterisation.
This is a heartfelt and deeply moving novella, with many stand out scenes, such as when the girls encounter a group of bullies who may or may not have been responsible for the death of a friend, the sense of exhilaration that the girls feel when they enact their brand of vengeance, thanks to a set of developing afterlife powers, is delectable. And the final scene where the girls finally come to terms with their fate and where there lives are going is a deeply moving and candid love at friendships, guilt and redemption.
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