The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
English | 2020 | Historical Fantasy | ePUB | 3.1 MB
Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor, returns with The Angel of the Crows, a fantasy novel of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.
This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.
In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.
Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.
“Dr. J. H. Doyle,” I said, “late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Armed Forces Medical Corps. I wouldn’t give a halfpenny for your business, Mr. Drebber, but I think you should find a seat somewhere else.”
“Eavesdropping, were you?” he said, scowl metamorphosing to sneer. “Jealous, huh? Lady not interested in a cripple?”
“It can hardly be eavesdropping when you bellowed your name loudly enough for the entire cabin to hear.”
Mr. Drebber took a step forward, and suddenly his friend, who had cared nothing for the lady’s distress, was there, deftly insinuating himself into the aisle between Mr. Drebber and me, murmuring pale, cold phrases about “nothing regrettable” and “no rash gestures” with the polish and fluency of a man who had done the same thing many times before. But, for no reason that I could see, Mr. Drebber took the intercession in extremely poor part, shouting that he’d brook interference from no man living; he advanced into the aisle, shouldering his friend aside, and swung one massive fist in a ponderous haymaker.
I had to lean back only slightly to dodge, which also happily put my weight on my good leg. I swung the end of my cane in a neat sharp arc, striking solidly upon the inner condule of Mr. Drebber’s forward ankle. His howl of agony was remarkably satisfying, as was the way he fell to the floor, clutching his wounded appendage and promising me the fiery torments of Hell. His friend, eyes suddenly awake, began to make threats about legal action and lawsuits, a higher-pitched contrapunto to Mr. Drebber’s more sulfurous imaginings. I said, “It is no more than a bruise, sir. Please help your friend to someplace where he will not be blocking the aisle.” I gave the young lady a meaningful glance and added, “I fear he is upsetting the lady.”
I do not know whether she had ever had occasion to practice that sort of mendacity before, but she played up gamely, saying promptly—and perhaps not untruthfully, judging by her color—“Indeed, I am feeling a little faint.”
The American’s sharp-featured face for a moment indicated his profound hatred for all of us, including Mr. Drebber. But cabin stewards were starting to appear, drawn by Enoch J. Drebber’s continuing howls, and he knew as well as I did how the story was going to look when all the participants and witnesses were interrogated. He and I awkwardly maneuvered past each other, he hampered by Drebber’s uncooperative bulk and I by my cane and untrustworthy leg, and at the moment we were closest to each other, he caught my gaze and said, softly, “My name is Joseph Stangerson, Dr. Doyle. When you hear it again, I want you to remember who I am.”
It was an oddly elegant threat. I said, “No fear of my forgetting, Mr. Stangerson,” and then we had edged past each other and the moment was mercifully gone.