Title: Guardian Angel
Author: Hayden Thorne
Pages/Word Count: 439 Pages
At a Glance: A bit of a change for fans of Hayden Thorne, but oh so worth it!
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: When nineteen-year-old Dominic Coville’s parents die in an accident, leaving him not only alone but on the brink of poverty, he desperately searches for work and is thrilled when the post of secretary is awarded to him despite his obvious inexperience and ignorance. Mr. Wynyard Knight of Mandrake Abbey, however, gladly welcomes Dominic and earns the young man’s immediate sympathy for his fragile health as well as gratitude for the promising new life now awaiting Dominic.
Inside rock and timber, hungry shadows seek…
But unusual things soon happen and appear to focus solely on him, and Dominic begins to wonder about the true history of Mr. Knight, the strange young man haunting the third floor, and Mandrake Abbey. With the persistent and increasingly violent attempts at communication by an angry ghost shadowing his hours, Dominic struggles to unravel the mysteries of his new home. And even with the help of a handsome young gentleman who’s an aspiring supernaturalist as well as his clairvoyant sister, danger closes in far too quickly.
Then it’s only a matter of time before carefully constructed façades fall away, and the sickly, decaying underbelly of Mandrake Abbey’s centuries-old collection of stone and timber will reveal itself.
Set in an alternate England sometime before the mid-19th century, Guardian Angel weaves a tangled and dark tapestry of old magic, romance, and madness, a celebration of classic gothic fiction and its macabre sensibilities.
Review: While the setting of this book might seem familiar to Hayden Thorne’s historical works, this book truly stands out and is set apart from anything else the author has written. This really is a piece of gothic horror at its finest, that also blends with other genres to make it unique.
Dominic finds himself needing to make a living after his inheritance is taken from him by what should have been a trusted family advisor, and so he begins his adventure as a secretary for an older, sickly man. When Dominic arrives at Mandrake Abbey, however, he is soon drawn into its mysteries when strange things begin to happen and people are not who they appear to be.
Set in an alternate England where magic has become a part of everyday life for people, at least in some basic form, this novel is not for the faint of heart. Reading it, I was creeped out by the setting of Mandrake Abbey, which Hayden Thorne appears to have a real knack for because in this novel, once again the setting is a character. Mandrake Abbey is just as alive (in a manner of speaking) as the characters that live within its walls. It hides secrets just like its inhabitants, and it’s up to Dominic and Edgar to solve them.
Despite the younger age of the protagonist, this book is not a young adult novel. There are some incredibly erotic scenes, proving to me that Thorne can write love scenes with the best of them. There were times when I was quite literally swooning and fanning myself. I completely fell in love with Edgar Swann.
Thorne also writes some of the creepiest characters I’ve ever encountered. I won’t say who it is, as that would give away a crucial plot point, but disturbed doesn’t even begin to cover this characters actions. There were moments when I even second guessed myself, so well done was the characterization that I thought maybe I was reading the situations completely wrong.
And let’s talk about the ghost for a minute. There’s only been a handful of times when I’ve been truly terrified of a ghost in some novel I’m reading. In fact, I can name on one hand each book that has left me with chills and staring in terror around the room I’m in. Hayden Thorne now takes up two of those three books, the first of them being Banshee which I reviewed last April for TNA. So. Thanks for scaring the heck out of me.
I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s one that I would want to visit over and over again because I truly loved the story and characters, even if I sat curled in a ball under a pile of blankets with all the lights on while reading. And I also honestly hope Hayden Thorne has more books like this coming our way because, if so, sign me up.