Kill All Angels Book Review
Written by Shane D. Keene
Published by Tor Books
Written by Robert Brockway
2017, 311 pages, Fiction
Released on December 26th, 2017
I’ve been on this alcohol-infused punk rock road-trip nightmare with Robert Brockway for three years now, each year hungrily devouring a new entry in a trilogy aptly titled “The Vicious Circuit.” Starting in 2015, I tore through The Unnoticables like a fat stoner with a THC chocolate bar, at the end feeling almost bereft, licking the imagined crumbs from the empty, crumpled wrapper and quietly jonesing for the more that would come in the form of The Empty Ones in July of 2016 and then again at the end of 2017 with the book I’m talking about now, Kill All Angels. And the collective experience of the series has served to leave me with the intensely strong opinion that author Robert Brockway is one of the greatest modern humorists of our genre, standing tall alongside the likes of Max Booth III and David Wong and even approaching the level of the great Jeff Strand, a writer I consider to be one of the funniest guys on the planet.
In Kill All Angels, aging punk and affable doofus Carey is back with his tattered leather jacket and Doc Martens, fueled up with cheap beer—or whatever booze he can get his hands on—and ready as always for a final, potentially fatal confrontation with the angels and the empty ones. Back too is Kaitlyn, the young woman with the ability to destroy angels and a terrible knowledge that might bring with it the power to either save humanity or utterly destroy it. Told like the other entries in the series, in multiple timelines and alternate points of view, it brings the events of the first two books to a head in the way that only Brockway can, with healthy doses of visceral, in-your-face cosmic horror tempered with bouts of wry, tongue-in-cheek humor and more than a few instances of outright raucous hilarity.
The already high stakes of the first two volumes of the story are raised exponentially as Kaitlyn discovers what she believes is the way to destroy all the angels, and the empty ones will go to any length of brutality to prevent that from happening. And while it's definitely his characters and his storytelling chops that make Brockway's prose work so well, it's his incredible mastery of action and frenetic pacing that makes his tales really sing, or rather thrum and jangle along the threads of your nervous system like the discordant cadence of a Johnny Rotten penned punk epic. The author pulls no punches and he knows his characters well, what they'll do to stay alive and how they'll react to various stimuli and situations, and he paints them picture perfect in every single Technicolor fever dream scene. His remarkable ability to manage set-pieces and build believable, utterly seeable scenes is matchless and nothing short of amazing. He places his reader firmly in the story and jumps right into high gear, kicking off the action and visuals from the first paragraph and never letting up, driving them on toward the bittersweet finale with the brooding, ominous inevitability of a freight train rumbling over a high canyon trestle.
When all is said and done, as is almost always the case and as it's been with all three books in the series, the knot that brings all the disparate threads together and makes this book one of the most wonderful windups to a trilogy that I've read in decades is the sheer cohesiveness of the thing. Throughout the three books, Brockway has weaved a multiplex of semi-complex storylines, but in Kill All Angels he manages somehow to tie them all up in a twisted little bow, leaving no errant strand left to whip in the cosmic winds of his mythos. His characters are rock-solid, sympathetic badasses, but they're not angels by any means. They are the kind of people you want on your side in a fight, the sort that don't wait for the beatdown to come to them but instead go looking for it. And trust me when I tell you they'll find it in spades. If you like cosmic horror heavily infused with wry humor but bleeding darkness from every pore, this trilogy is exactly what you're looking for and, to my surprise, this final entry is the best book in the entire series.