vrijdag 16 oktober 2015

Stefan Brijs: The Angel Maker


This is my review of my third time reading The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs.
I obviously read it in Dutch because Stefan Brijs is a Belgian writer but I do know this novel has been translated into English.
My copy has 429 pages and is actually my mother’s copy. 

Last year I went to a lecture Stefan Brijs was giving in my hometown. I own De Engelenmaker and Post voor mevrouw Bromley so I decided to bring them with me to get them autographed. One for me and one for my mother whose books we forgot to bring with us. So I gave her my signed copy of De Engelenmaker, I got her copy instead and I now own a signed copy of Post voor mevrouw Bromley.
“The village of Wolfheim is a quiet little place until the geneticist Dr. Victor Hoppe returns after an absence of nearly twenty years. The doctor brings with him his infant children-three identical boys all sharing a disturbing disfigurement. He keeps them hidden away until Charlotte, the woman who is hired to care for them, begins to suspect that the triplets-and the good doctor- aren't quite what they seem. As the villagers become increasingly suspicious, the story of Dr. Hoppe's past begins to unfold, and the shocking secrets that he has been keeping are revealed. A chilling story that explores the ethical limits of science and religion, The Angel Maker is a haunting tale in the tradition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein. Brought to life by internationally bestselling author Stefan Brijs, this eerie tale promises to get under readers' skin.”

I enjoyed it a lot. Not as much as the first or the second time though.
My guess is that the gossip and the weak-minded people are hitting too close to home this time around.
The story is set in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone else. That makes for a lot of talking, spying and gossiping. And it feels stifling. You get so caught up in it you can feel yourself growing as stupid and foolish as them. 

Hoppe is amazingly characterized. His determination is admirable. And what he has to go through is tragic and you can totally understand how he came to be the way he is without approving his deeds.

The storytelling is very sharp, intelligent and to the point.
Brijs shows us how superstition, science and personal experience can all be a part of one and the same person and how this can still make sense inside this person’s head. Because it still does for Hoppe. And it’s amazing to watch his reasoning and his thoughts.

The Angel Maker is well worth the read. The story is enormously engrossing; it just sucks you up and doesn’t let you go until you have to go to sleep or until you’ve finished the whole thing.

I remember being flabbergasted the first time I read it and I found out what it was all about. Obviously, I’m well beyond that now but it still is pretty awesome, horrific, baffling and utterly amazing.

Happy reading!

Delightful hours.

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