Charles de Lint, writing
as Samuel M. Key,
Angel of Darkness
(Jove, 1990; Orb, 2002)

I always have to wonder about the minds of the authors who can come up with characters as diabolically deranged as Chad Baker. Chad runs a recording studio out of his basement. He also helps runaways to survive -- either breaking into the music scene or going home. Then he comes up with a very twisted idea -- recording the sounds those runaways make as he tortures them in his basement. Pain, he discovers, creates a very interesting series of notes and sounds which he mixes into something far more dangerous than a simple experiment.

Perhaps it isn't wise to fool with death and the sounds of so much inconsolable pain, but it's something Chad feels he must do. Blended in with this was some genuine singing and other sounds which can be acquired in asylums and hospitals, all culminating in a symphony of horror.

Chad puts all the sound bits together and plays the painful music back for himself. But when you dabble in the pain and anguish of others, sooner or later it will seek you out. Chad's music unleashes a horror upon the streets of Ottawa that should never have come to light -- a horror so unknown and inexplicable that normal methods won't be adequate for destroying it.

When the Angel of Darkness is called forth, she leaves devastation in her wake. Police are called to the horrible scene, including a private investigator who'd been tracking Chad's last victim, and the officers all find their lives changed. They slip in and out of this reality and a darker, bleaker one, a reflection of the city where a holocaust has occurred and no one is safe. People around them begin popping in and out of sight, and people begin to die. The police are mystified, having no idea who or what is behind this, and the measures they take to destroy this evil walking the streets of Ottawa are quite fascinating.

Key weaves together a tight plot filled with darkness and horror, with only a glimmer of hope shining as a beacon for some memorable characters. These are characters who resemble any number of people you might know or meet, characters who are wholly believable and human, characters who may not survive hearing the music.

In all of us there is some past or present hurt we have caused to another -- however unintentional it may have been. Will this come back to haunt us someday? Key seems to think it may....

And for those of you who don't know it, Samuel M. Key is a pseudonym for Canadian fantasy writer Charles de Lint. Two other titles have been published under this name: From a Whisper to a Scream and I'll Be Watching You.

[ by Naomi de Bruyn ]

Buy it from