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Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts
edited by Stephen Jones
Ulysses Press, 408 pages

Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones is the winner of multiple World Fantasy Awards, the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Awards, British Fantasy Awards and a Hugo Award nominee. A full-time columnist, television producer/director and genre movie publicist and consultant, Stephen Jones is also one of Britain's most acclaimed anthologists of horror and dark fantasy. He has edited and written more than 100 books, including: Shadows Over Innsmouth; Exorcisms and Ecstasies, a Karl Edward Wagner collection; and Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror. He is co-editor of a number of series including Best New Horror, Dark Terrors and Dark Voices. He lives in London, England.

Stephen Jones Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Zombie Apocalypse!
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 21
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New Horror
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 20
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 19
SF Site Review: H.P. Lovecraft In Britain
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Monsters
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #17
SF Site Review: Shadows Over Innsmouth
SF Site Review: Dark Terrors 5
SF Site Review: White of the Moon
SF Site Review: Dark of the Night

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Visitants Angels are generally represented as either God-sent messengers or guardians protecting our souls from evil. And we must remember that devils and demons are, supposedly, just fallen angels. All in all, angels are supernatural beings bringing either light or darkness into our life. What better topic, then, for an anthology of fantasy /dark fiction?

Editor Stephen Jones has assembled twenty-seven tales, some as old as Arthur Machen's famous "The Bowmen," some brand new, all dealing somehow with angels. The authors include horror masters such as Ramsey Campbell, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Mark Samuels, Brian Stableford, Peter Crowther, renowned fantasists such as Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen and Jay Lake as well as SF masters such as Robert Silverberg and Michael Bishop.

Predictably, there's a great variety of takes on the anthology theme featuring different writing styles, different views of those mysterious creatures we call angels, and different atmospheres. Which is good because variety leaves no room for boredom in a volume which could have risked to be repetitive.

To pinpoint the more accomplished stories is a bit hard, but a reviewer has to make his choices.

Both "Second Journey of the Magus" by Ian R. MacLeod -- a very original piece revisiting the character of one of the three Wise Men, the magus Balthasar -- and Lisa Tuttle's "Old Mr Boudreaux" -- a gentle story where the angel appears as a pretext for a deep investigation about the value of personal feelings -- first appeared in Subterranean Magazine, a further evidence of the high quality of the fiction published therein.

"Featherweight" by Robert Shearman is a surrealistic piece revolving around a married couple trapped in the wreckage of their car after a road accident, while "Snow Angels" by Sarah Pinborough is a sad, moving story set in a private sanitarium for dying children.

In Graham Masterton's excellent "Evidence of Angels" a teenager disappointed because her mom gives birth to a little boy instead of a girl has to face the fact that angels do exist and to try hard to impart this notion to other people.

Michael Marshall Smith contributes the perceptive "Being Right" where an angel summoned by an incantation found in an ancient book reveals to an indifferent husband some hidden secrets about his wife.

In "S.D. Watkins, Painter of Portraits," Steve Rasnic Tem masterfully describes the confrontation between a priest and a disenchanted painter and the way the existence of angels gradually becomes apparent.

Visitants is a well balanced mix of genres, providing more than four hundred pages of good reading about an unusual, but intriguing subject dating back to Old Testament but still topical in our modern times.

Copyright © 2011 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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