THE WINGLESS ANGEL
By Fabrice Wilfong
American Book Festival – Critical Review
French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre once observed that Hell is other people. In “The Wingless Angel,” author Fabrice Wilfong takes that one step further, drawing a picture of Hell that rivals the sweeping landscapes created by J.R.R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings and George R.R. Martin in Game of Thrones.
The hero of the story is Silton, a former military medic who commits suicide in despair over the end of his marriage. He falls into Hell (literally) and arrives in a strange land that’s part anatomy lesson, part Biblical retreat, and certainly a place where everyone spends their eternity contemplating the role of God and their punishment for sins during their life.
In this version of Hell, the Devil is talked about, but rarely grants an audience. Instead, his kingdom, whose main location is known as The Sled, is pulled along by an army of hapless “Broken” people, the sinners who are tasked with keeping the bone constructed passage from sinking into the fat, skin and blood landscape of Hell.
To harvest the souls who perform this task, a collection of the unholy is sent out on Cantavits to the territory known as The Vast to round up those souls who fall to hell. Some are put to work pulling on The Sled. Others are harvested for body parts. Eventually, a favored few work their way up the corporate food chain, assisted by an assortment of dog-like creatures, hybrid muscle, and horse-like Mauss.
The story here pings back and forth between the initiation of Montly, a former supervisor on The Sled who has recently been promoted to an assistant rank, and Silton, who manages to navigate the strange new landscape and its rituals while enduring searing pain from his injuries and the tortures inflicted when he’s captured.
Author Wilfong is a skilled storyteller and a student of anatomy, and though the descriptions of oozing sores, lakes of fat, and various organs and appendages being ripped from the body may sound like an unbelievable amount of gore, he manages to make them part of the story without nauseating the reader.
Along the way, the reader will ponder the philosophy behind Hell, where the Devil has dominion but God is still on everyone’s mind and remains the ultimate ruler of all. The slam-bang ending to the book neatly ties up this chapter of the book and sets the stage for a potential series.
Fans of horror and science fiction will find this page-turning novel a delight, and are well-advised not to start it at night, unless you wish to stay up late. It’s that good, and we look forward to more in this canon from Wilfong in the coming years.