Reviews > Published on December 2nd, 2015

Bookshots: ‘The Angel of Highgate’ by Vaughn Entwistle

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Angel of Highgate

Who wrote it?

An English author who lived in the US for a number of years. Vaughn Entwistle has had his poetry and fiction published in a number of small literary journals, and has won awards for screenplays and novels. His series ‘The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’ includes The Revenant of Thraxton Hall and The Dead Assassin.

Plot in a Box:

Lord Thraxton, a notorious womaniser, gambler and drinker, whose reputation as the ‘wickedest man in London’ is not unfounded, spots a mysterious figure in Highgate Cemetery and determines to find out more. His determination to find his ‘angel’ takes him across Victorian London, leads him to participate in a duel, and draws him into one of the vilest cesspits of the city.

Invent a new title for this book:

I would call it: Angels and Demons (apologies to Mr Brown).

Lord Thraxton, the ‘wickedest man in London’, spots a mysterious figure in Highgate Cemetery and determines to find out more.

Read this if you liked:

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters or The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber.

Meet the book’s lead:

Lord Geoffrey Thraxton, the spoiled heir of a long line of Thraxtons, has a reputation to live up to — a challenge he has accepted with gusto. With more money than sense, he hosts parties and does his best to be the benevolent benefactor, particularly to his best friend, Algernon Hyde-Davies. Not afraid of a fight he ends up in a duel on Wimbledon Common, an illegal activity, and manages to survive, doing his best to tweak Death’s nose in the process, something that he will live to regret. But he has a romantic streak, one which he keeps hidden until his stumbles across his dark angel in Highgate Cemetery.

Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:

It has to be an English actor, someone like Jude Law or Tom Hiddleston would be perfect, with the right sort of rakishness Lord Thraxton requires.

Setting: would you want to live there?

Victorian London has its draws, but mainly if you had money — probably not.

What was your favorite sentence?

"Not again, Algy!” he exclaimed. “My friend is always apologising for my behaviour.”

The Verdict:

I found it hard to put this book down — always a good sign. For all his debauchery, Lord Thraxton is a compelling character and one I found very sympathetic. Yes, he has more money than sense, but he also has a sense of honor and a morality that leads him to be fiercely protective of the people he loves. All the characters are well realised and hardly cardboard cutout Victorians; the villain in particular is a monster that I won’t forget anytime soon.

Entwistle does a brilliant job of evoking Victorian London and it certainly is not a sanitized version of the city. It definitely smells, from the horse dung in the roads to the open middens in the less salubrious parts of town.

I will definitely be seeking out Entwistle’s other novels, as he has proven he can write. If you like novels about Victorian London, this is one you shouldn’t miss.

About the author

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for 21 years now. On reaching London, he worked as a graphic designer and web consultant before starting a pub review website in the late 90’s.

His current book series, The Jaared Sen Quartet is set in near-future London, but also encompasses historical elements, reflecting his fascination with missing artifacts and conspiracy theories.

Dean left pub reviews behind in 2011 to concentrate on his writing and to set up a new company offering publishing services to authors, poets and artists as well as blogging and writing book reviews on his website at He lives in east London with his wife and two cats and dreams (often) of a house in France.

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