- Publisher: Penguin, Paperback(2008) (2008)
- ASIN: B008AUFHYQ
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- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,568,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Angel Maker (09) by Brijs, Stefan [Paperback (2008)] Paperback – 2008
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The middle third is a little less successful. Telling the life story of someone whose inner life is so alien is a difficult proposition, and I think the exposition gets a little dense. Brijs invents another narrator to tell the story of Hoppe's scientific career, but doesn't bother to flesh the character out, and when he appears again after an absence I found myself annoyed at the unnecessary complication.
Still, there's much to enjoy: Hoppe's game of deceptive truth-telling, his housekeeper's slow realization of her employer's peculiarities, the horrors of his house once things go terribly wrong. Fans of horror-tinged science fiction will be rewarded in seeking this out.
The story is based in Belgium - in a border town called Wolfheim where after an absence of 20 years, Dr. Victor Koppe returns to his family home and practice. Only this time, he is not alone. He brings with him, triplet infant sons who are identical in every way - down to the cleft palate and bizarre mannerisms.
Naturally the inhabitants of the small village are curious but are kept at bay by the infant's father incessant need for privacy. The children are ill, he says. He must care for them. But he must also have an income and so reluctantly re-opens the family practice and soon the villagers have a doctor to tend their various ailments. Gossip runs rampant around the locals as they share observations of the doctor and his strange children and strong opinions begin to form.
Dr. Koppe doesn't help matters much - though he provides the primary care for the villagers, he has the personality of a dial tone. In fact, it surmised that he suffers from Asberger's Syndrome. Still though - he is extremely gruff and avoids personal conversations - especially from curious villagers asking about his children.
The three boys, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael are identical not only to each other, but to their father - Dr. Koppe you see, also had a cleft palate - their scars identical. But something is horribly wrong with these children - though they are toddlers, they resemble old men. And while their physical appearance seems to be reversing, their intelligence is leaping forward. With retired elementary teacher Charlotte Menhout's skillful tutelage, the children excel well beyond their years.
But while under Charlotte's private care and lessons, the children begin to show signs that something else is going on in the Koppe home after she leaves. Something bad. Victor...it seems, is constantly running tests on his boys and even though they are under the care of their father, the doctor - their health continues to decline. Something must be done.
The story is split into three parts - the first introduces Dr. Koppe and his little "angels" as well as Charlotte - all reported in a way through various villager's account as hindsight. Something has happened...and we are now hearing the WHOLE STORY as told by the neighboring busy bodies.
Before the climatic third section, the middle takes you back to the Dr.'s past - for whatever the event WAS - it's important to have the background of the man. Here you learn, that Victor Koppe is a geneticist and embryologist. His fascination with cloning human embryos brings to mind certain events that have been forefront in the news lately regarding a certain invitroholic and the doctor who clearly stepped over the boundaries of responsible medicine.
The Angel Maker is about science gone mad, an unscrupulous doctor working unchecked outside the boundaries of human decency. This is a horror story that unfortunately reads very real. I'm not sure which is worse in this story - the sick, evil genius or the administrators who turned a blind eye to his actions because of their own ambitions.
So if you want to get a good scare on, pick up Stefan Brilj's latest delivery, The Angel Maker and mull over whether life is imitating art...or vice versa.