Book Reviews: Small Angels
Lauren Owen's latest is spookily scintillating
If a person falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, do they make a sound? In Mockbeggar Woods, the trees are always listening and they hold onto the stories — and people — they like best.
In a small village on the edge of the woods, Kate finds herself back where she grew up for the first time in over a decade as a part of her brother's wedding at the church on the hill, Small Angels. Chloe, the bride-to-be, previously fell in love with the church at first sight, insisting it be the place where their nuptials take place.
But when things begin to go awry during the week of the wedding — from town legends of haunting to sights, sounds, and smells that seem impossible — secrets will be revealed. There's a reason Kate left all those years ago.
On the outskirts of the town near Small Angels, the Gonne family tends a farm, the church, and the ominous ghost in the woods. For generations, the Gonnes have been tasked with preventing a ghost from venturing into the town, keeping it contained to the woods. But now, after years of a house full of family to help, Lucia is the only one left.
Kate knows that the Gonnes have a complex history with the village, including a fateful event that drove a wedge between the Gonne sisters and Kate all those years ago. But with the woods coming alive again, she must reconnect with Lucia, the most difficult of the sisters and Kate's first love, in order to protect Chloe, the village, and herself.
Written in alternating viewpoints from both past and present — Lucia's voice comes through strongly as a missive to Kate — the slower buildup of Small Angels is worth the wait. With an excellent blend of gothic horror and magical realism, Owen demonstrates the power memories have over us, whether they're holding us back or pushing us forward.
Random House // 400 pages // Gothic Horror, Magical Realism, Thriller