Angel of the Underground

David Andreas's debut novella, Angel of the Underground, will remind many horror fans of Stephen King's first published novel, Carrie. Although there are no supernatural elements like telekinesis in this new tale, there is a formidable and beleaguered teenage heroine in danger and a spectacularly gruesome bloodbath finale.

After three orphaned children are murdered in a New York Catholic group home, the remaining three children are sent off to separate foster homes for safety. Fifteen-year-old Robin Hills is sent to a Long Island residence owned by a lecherous obese man named Barry and his sullen wife, Lori. Also in the home are Barry's elderly father, invalid mother and two foster teen boys. Sullen and antagonistic Nathan is openly hostile toward Robin, but she befriends Dustin, who finds solace in watching horror movies ("They're therapeutic," he says. "They kill people so I don't have to."). When the sadistic murders continue, Robin realizes that there is no safe place, and she will have to rely on her wits to survive.

Andreas's tight and tense horror tale is a spellbinding and clever debut. He also has more on his mind than merely a straightforward thriller. His smart, sympathetic and engaging teen heroine grapples with the Catholic faith that has sustained her for so many years but now seems to have abandoned her. Proving good things come in small packages (the novel is just 165 pages), Angel of the Underground is a tight and thoughtful thriller, and a stellar introduction to a fresh new voice. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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