The Blurb (from Goodreads):
Sophie needs to pay the rent and a story on the occult would sell around Hallowe’en time. The Lodge of the Seven Stars is good for research but Sophie’s a sceptic and doesn’t believe in any of the rituals. Until she meets The Wanderer who has a story to tell her.
As a special birthday treat to myself, I chose to re-read a favourite book every year. This year I chose Angel of Ruin by Kim Wilkins, one of my favourites of her books. It’s a dual timeline novel (one of my favourite genres), moving between the story of Sophie Black, a freelance journalist struggling to make a living in modern-day London, and the lives of the three daughters of John Milton, famous for ‘Paradise Lost’, a long poem about heaven and hell. The two timelines are both vivid and real, and skilfully woven together, unlike many novels with a similar narrative structure where one thread is much more engaging and readable than the other.
Angel of Ruin is one of those books where it’s difficult to write a précis of the plot without spoiling it. I will do my best! The tale begins with Sophie, heartbroken and broke, trying to think up a good subject to write about so she can bring in some quick cash. Halloween’s coming up, so she thinks a piece on modern-day occult worshippers might sell. She inveigles her way into a small group who call themselves the Lodge, hiding her scepticism so she can watch some of their ceremonies. The only thing that piques her interest is the mention of an old woman who tried to tell her life story to one of the members. The group is afraid, and conduct various cleansing and protection rituals, warning Sophie that she must be careful not to go anywhere near the old woman. Sophie is intrigued. She decides to find out more.
The narrative then moves back in time to the seventeenth century where the blind poet Milton is labouring away on his great epic poem. His three daughters assist him, with varying degrees of love and respect. One day they summon an angel named Lazodeus, and their lives are changed forever. Gradually, step by step, they are drawn into desire, betrayal, black magic and murder, while London suffers through the coming of the plague and the Great Fire.
This book is such a beguiling mix of history, romance, and the supernatural – I loved it all over again.