Gabriel's Clock by Hilton Pashley

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Gabriel's Clock by Hilton Pashley

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Gina Garnett
Reviewed by Gina Garnett
Summary: Combining daft humour with dark fantasy, this is a fairly interesting read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 247 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Andersen Press
ISBN: 978-1-84939-578-6

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Gabriel’s Clock can’t decide whether it’s a dark fantasy or a whacky slapstick, so it applies elements of both liberally. This isn’t such a bad thing, as it averages out as a fairly harmless adventure. Jonathan is the only child ever, in the whole of creation, to be born to one angelic and one demonic parent. Having lived his life thus far in ignorance of the fact it comes as a nasty shock when the Corvidae (the most unpleasant denizens of hell) attack his family and try to capture him. Badly injured and suddenly bereft of his father, he is deposited by his mother in the village of Hobbes End in the care of the former Archangel Gabriel (his paternal grandfather) before she heads off to petition Lucifer for protection from the Archdemon Belial. Whether or not she’s successful we never find out, but Belial and the Corvidae find Jonathan and will stop at nothing to turn him into the weapon they want him to be. What they haven’t quite reckoned on is the opposition from the residents of Hobbes End (which is itself sentient), where all the weird, the wonderful and the well-intentioned but outright dangerous find refuge. Not to mention Jonathan himself.

The author’s vision for the world this book inhabits has incredible clarity. The history, the creatures, the laws are all clearly the result of careful planning and been fully exposed in the execution. The characters are varied and fill their roles well and for the most part, the story seems to know what it’s doing. As mentioned above, though, the tone wavers, swinging from bad guys sending body parts special delivery FAO small children to talking cats who like to tell dirty limericks (not that the Vicar lets him get that far). As also mentioned above, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as each side of the scale pretty well balances the other out, stopping the whole thing from becoming too dark or too silly and bringing it to rest at average. The author’s vision also, between the loose ends and the epilogue, includes a sequel (or now I think about it, perhaps a series of four, one for each Archangel). If so, the continued adventures of Jonathan would be interesting to read, since Belial was right and half angel, half demon means the best and most powerful of both worlds.

Overall the book keeps up a fairly punchy pace and reasonable level of quality. The problems that do exist are petty ones, really, and while I’m not sure Deus Ex Machina means quite what the author thinks it does, the narrative does a good job of keeping you focused on the positives and on what’s going to happen next. It was interesting to find a book entirely about angels, demons and a vicar that was entirely without religion, so if that was putting you off, don’t let it. Worth a read.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Angel by Cliff McNish.

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