Archangel by Michael Vorhis
Archangel is firmly rooted in reality and Mr. Vorhis writes it in the style of the great American classic novel.
There is a man who has long since lost faith in himself. A dim past that played out wrong overpowered his spirit, and he came to believe he was not good for this world. For some years he has been in hiding, subduing the malevolent nature he feels he owns in a cloak of powerless anonymity. He has been saving the world from himself, an unlikely clergyman engaged in hidden, quiet servitude to humanity. He doesn’t see the heroism in that choice.
But coincidence, perhaps Fate, causes Mick Calahan to become entangled in the equally mysterious saga of strangers. And circumstances bring him unwillingly into the open, where looms his greatest fear–that his decisions might affect and destroy real lives.
And so even as he hesitantly peels back a remote western town’s uneasy past, he finds that again he must choose–between retreat into a martyr’s insignificance and overt protection of a broken family that desperately needs his help. Dare he stand, pretend he’s not a lightning rod for calamity, and shield a woman and child he has grown to love? Dare he stand, and sink back to the terrible place his soul once knew, forfeiting what’s left of his own humanity?
As in the ancient, timeless biblical fable from which the saga’s title derives, the fate of paradise rests in this lone defender’s hands. And the chance for redemption from old demons can be a powerful lure. But Destiny is never fair, and the classic heroic warrior must this time walk an inglorious path. If not for a dignity he denies he has…and the subtly tantalizing motive of forbidden love….
There is a man who has long since lost faith in himself. He is a man whom every woman needs on her darkest day, whom every man becomes in his finest hour.
Review by Perry Martin:
I really enjoyed this book. For me it had echoes of an old Humphrey Bogart movie called “The Left Hand of God” – – one of my all-time favorite Bogie movies. While we’re on the subject of movies, I’d love to see “Archangel” hit the big screen. Hollywood is badly in need of a story as good as this.
Michael Vorhis writes extremely well, like a seasoned pro for my money, and the tension in this engrossing story builds like a slow-burning fuse, finally exploding in an exciting climax. Good guys and bad guys alike are extremely well-drawn in this very well written, character-driven story.
I look forward to Michael’s next novel.
Review by Robert DeColeau:
I was unsure if I would enjoy this book for the first few chapters. The characters are crisp and original, but I couldn’t figure out where exactly the story was heading and it seemed to meander along for a bit. It turns out that was just the calm before the storm, a storm that I would rate a class five hurricane.
There was a point when I realized that the tension of the book had been building all along; it builds and builds until finally you get the gratifying eruption of sheer storytelling genius. I realized that the few placid chapters near the beginning are crucial and most likely intentionally orchestrated by the author to increase the intensity of the dramatic outcome of the story.
My advice, no matter how the first hundred pages rubs you, press on it is well worth in the end.
I am a big fan of scifi/fantasy and the horror genres and this book in no way fits into any of those categories. The title Archangel had me expecting some form of supernatural event, whether it be divine intervention, demon possession,or what have you. That was not the case; this book is firmly rooted in reality and Mr. Vorhis writes it in the style of the great American classic novel.
CHARACTERS- Mr. Vorhis takes the time to develop original unique characters. Each is deep and well thought out. The protagonists are suitably flawed, not being the flat but shining heroes of some fairy tale as many writers have a tendency to create. The antagonists are a perfect counterpart. Each villain, from the boss to the lowest henchman, is appropriately evil, intelligent, and self serving. As the reader, it is easy to identify and accept each of their motivations and their actions are consistent with natural (if a bit cruel) human responses. Too often, I find bad guys are just bad guys because an author need a bad guy. Too often, I find myself wondering what would motivate the antagonist to act or react in such ways. The believability of the character motivation is what pushed this novel from good to great.
PLOT- The plot of Archangel is well developed and realistic. Michael Vorhis creates an amazing piece of fiction that is well rooted in this world. The details of physics, geology, geography, and history are not paramount to this story, but the author’s mastery of each accentuates the plot and forces the reader to suspend disbelief. Whether it’s describing how to control of a gliding aircraft, the finer points of American mining, or the civil unrest between aboriginal peoples and the new Americans, Michael Vorhis writes about each with authority and knowledge.
SIDE NOTE- On a more personal level, as a Native American who was raised on a reservation, I have to commend the author for his very accurate portrayal of the overall state of mind of the natives in general during the late sixties and early seventies. The inclusion of the natives in this novel was well done. Recently, in literature or cinema, natives are portrayed as all knowing, deeply spiritual near mythical beings.
This I believe, is an over compensation for the unfavorable light in which they were portrayed for generations or maybe because of the collective guilt of the American populace for the wrong doings of their fore fathers. Mr. Vorhis is able to capture the truth about the Indians. They are all just individual people.
Some of the elders are show wisdom, but that’s true of every race. Some of the youth are reckless, again true of all human beings, and all are capable of being cruel, greedy, angry, scared, vindictive, and even wise.