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Angelmaker (Vintage Contemporaries)

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Angelmaker (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover

 

Awards

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World, blistering gangster noir meets howling absurdist comedy as the forces of good square off against the forces of evil, and only an unassuming clockwork repairman and an octogenarian former superspy can save the world from total destruction.

Joe Spork spends his days fixing antique clocks. The son of infamous London criminal Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, he has turned his back on his family’s mobster history and aims to live a quiet life. That orderly existence is suddenly upended when Joe activates a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism. His client, Edie Banister, is more than the kindly old lady she appears to be — she’s a retired international secret agent. And the device? It’s a 1950s doomsday machine. Having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the British government and a diabolical South Asian dictator who is also Edie’s old arch-nemesis. On the upside, Joe’s got a girl: a bold receptionist named Polly whose smarts, savvy and sex appeal may be just what he needs. With Joe’s once-quiet world suddenly overrun by mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realizes that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago and pick up his father’s old gun....

Review:

"It's hard to put a finger on exactly why Angelmaker is one of the year's best books. Know this, though: it is." Niall Alexander, Tor.com

Review:

"Greetings to Joe Spork, the book world's newest hero. He springs from the fertile, absurdist imagination of Harkaway in his follow-up to The Gone-Away World." Billy Heller, New York Post

Review:

"Brilliant, wholly original, and a major-league hoot." Adam Woog, The Seattle Times

Review:

"[Harkaway] manages to write surrealist adventure novels that feel both urgent and relevant. His novels are fun to read without seeming particularly frivolous, and beneath all the derring-do and shenanigans, there's a low thrum of anxiety: everything and everyone you love could disappear at any moment....Angelmaker is a truly impressive achievement." Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions

Review:

"A big, gleefully absurd, huggable bear of a novel....A pleasantly roomy book, a grand old manor house of a novel that sprawls and stretches....In passage after passage, Angelmaker opens up, making room for the reader, until we aren't merely empathizing with Joe Spork's plight but feeling it keenly....All the more reason to applaud Harkaway for creating Joe Spork: not only like us but likable, a hero who serves not as a dark mirror but as a funhouse one." Glen Weldon, Slate

Review:

"[A] gloriously uninhibited romp of a novel....Harkaway has managed to recapture the lighthearted brio of an earlier age of precision entertainment, when the world was deemed to be perpetually teetering on the brink of Armageddon but always capable of being snatched back to safety with a quip, a wink, [and] a judo chop." Paul Di Filippo, Barnes and Noble Review

Review:

"A lot of books are fun to read for the plot; a smaller percentage display this artful mastery of the language. And precious few manage to do both. Angelmaker, the second novel by British writer Nick Harkaway, falls into that last category....This is not the sort of book I zip through, despite wanting to know what happens next. It's the sort of book you want to let steep in your brain a bit before you take another taste." Jonathan Liu, Wired.com's GeekDad blog

Review:

"An intricate and brilliant piece of escapism, tipping its hat to the twisting plots of John Buchan and H. Rider Haggard, the goggles-and-gauntlets Victoriana of the steampunk movement and the labyrinthine secret Londons of Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair, while maintaining an originality, humour and verve all its author's own....Angelmaker must have been huge fun to write, and it is huge fun to read....A fantasy espionage novel stuffed with energetic, elegant writing that bowls the reader along while reflecting profitably on the trends of the times. Gleefully nostalgic and firmly modern, hand-on-heart and tongue-in-cheek, this is as far as it could be from the wearied tropes that dominate so much of fantasy and SF. I can't wait to see what Harkaway does next." Tim Martin, Daily Telegraph (Starred Review)

Review:

"Harkaway's celebrated debut, The Gone-Away World...was really just a warm up act — a prodigiously talented novelist stretching muscles that few other writers even possess — for this tour de force Dickensian bravura and genre-bending splendor....This is a marvelous book, both sublimely intricate and compulsively readable." Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"Harkaway keeps us guessing, traveling the edges between fantasy, sci-fi, the detective novel, pomo fiction and a good old-fashioned comedy of the sort that Jerome K. Jerome might have written had he had a ticking thingy instead of a boat as his prop....His tale stands comparison to Haruki Murakami's 1Q84." Kirkus (starred review)

Review:

"A long, wild journey through a London dream world....With its bizarre scenarios and feverish wordiness, its huge cast of British eccentrics and the ark forces of paranoia and totalitarianism lurking everywhere, this novel recalls the works of Martin Amis and Will Self. Immense fun and quite exciting." Jim Coan, Library Journal

Review:

"A puzzle box of a novel as fascinating as the clockwork bees it contains, filled with intrigue, espionage and creative use of trains. As if that were not enough to win my literary affection, Harkaway went and gave me a raging crush on a fictional lawyer." Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus

Review:

"You are in for a treat, sort of like Dickens meets Mervyn Peake in a modern Mother London. The very best sort of odd." William Gibson, author of Zero History

Review:

"Nick Harkaway's novel is like a fractal: when examined at any scale, it reveals itself to be complex, fine-structured and ornately beautiful. And just like a fractal, all of this complexity and beauty derives from a powerful and elegant underlying idea." Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Review:

"This brilliant, boundless mad genius of a book runs on its own frenetic energy, and bursts with infinite wit, inventive ambition and damn fine storytelling. You finish reading it in gape-mouthed awe and breathless admiration, having experienced something very special indeed." Matt Haig, author of The Radleys

Review:

"A joyously sprawling, elaborately plotted, endlessly entertaining novel filled with adventure, comedy, espionage, and romance, Angelmaker also deals with intriguing questions of free will and the nature of truth without stopping to take a breath. As if the book is made of clockwork, the pages turn themselves." Dexter Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion

Synopsis:

A rollicking romp of a spy thriller from the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World.

Joe Spork fixes clocks. He has turned his back on his father’s legacy as one of London’s flashiest and most powerful gangsters and aims to live a quiet life. Edie Banister retired long ago from her career as a British secret agent. She spends her days with a cantankerous old pug for company. That is, until Joe repairs a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, inadvertently triggering a 1950s doomsday machine. His once-quiet life is suddenly overrun by mad monks who worship John Ruskin, psychopathic serial killers, mad geniuses and dastardly villains. On the upside, he catches the eye of bright and brassy Polly, a woman with enough smarts to get anyone out of a sticky situation. In order to save the world and defeat the nefarious forces threatening it, Joe must help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago, and he must summon the courage to pick up his father’s old gun and join the fight.

About the Author

Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall in 1972. He studied philosophy, sociology and politics at Clare College, Cambridge, and then worked in the film industry. His fiction debut was The Gone-Away World. He lives in London with his wife and daughter. www.nickharkaway.com

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

hthayer, March 3, 2014 (view all comments by hthayer)
I am so torn about this book -- I loved it and yet I have one overwhelming complaint that compels me to give it only three stars.

First, the good: This book is deliciously well written, with virtually every sentence, every paragraph a tumbling glory of words that are enough to make any bibliophile smile and laugh aloud at the sheer clever audacity of the language.

The bad: The words become an avalanche that bury the story, the tangents and the clever asides, the rollicking similes and metaphors (what does an accordion falling into porridge sound like, anyway?), the over-the-top character and place descriptions build and build until the reader is helpless against the onslaught. The world building was wonderful and the few characters who I could clearly keep ahold of were well-developed and interesting. I think that the story was interesting too, but I don't know because I was so lost at the end that I could barely figure out what was happening. Characters came and went to reappear thousands of words and worlds later without reintroduction with the expectation that I would remember everything about them and their backstory, which is somehow critical to the action, but I don't know because I am lost in yet another paragraph that is busy circling around to pat itself on the back with its own cleverness.

I wouldn't want to give up on the wonderful language, but it would have been helpful if, at the end of every chapter, there had been a recap that told me what had actually happened or if when a character reappeared after a long absence there had been a note in the margin that would remind me who they were.

Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Karen from SF, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Karen from SF)
The urban proto-steampunk fantasy noir zombie book is soooo done. Or so it seems. Then this book comes along and blows the genre out of the water. What a fantastic ride! This book is enjoyable, well-written, and startling imaginative from beginning to end. It's got a little Gaiman, a little Chandler, a little Stevenson, but derivative of no one. The characters are wonderful, believable, and well-drawn, even the passing side characters. My bookclub read this and, though we have 7 members and 14 opinions, we all loved it. That NEVER happens.
If any of this appeals, do pick up Angelmaker. You won't regret it.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
barclaysylvester, January 15, 2013 (view all comments by barclaysylvester)
As fun as The Gone-Away world, but with better characters. Edie may be the best female character written in five years.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 5 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307743626
Author:
Harkaway, Nick
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Subject:
Espionage
Subject:
Popular Fiction - Adventure
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries
Publication Date:
20121031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
7.9 x 5.2 x 1.04 in 0.8 lb

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Angelmaker (Vintage Contemporaries) New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.95 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Vintage Books - English 9780307743626 Reviews:
"Review" by , "It's hard to put a finger on exactly why Angelmaker is one of the year's best books. Know this, though: it is."
"Review" by , "Greetings to Joe Spork, the book world's newest hero. He springs from the fertile, absurdist imagination of Harkaway in his follow-up to The Gone-Away World."
"Review" by , "Brilliant, wholly original, and a major-league hoot."
"Review" by , "[Harkaway] manages to write surrealist adventure novels that feel both urgent and relevant. His novels are fun to read without seeming particularly frivolous, and beneath all the derring-do and shenanigans, there's a low thrum of anxiety: everything and everyone you love could disappear at any moment....Angelmaker is a truly impressive achievement."
"Review" by , "A big, gleefully absurd, huggable bear of a novel....A pleasantly roomy book, a grand old manor house of a novel that sprawls and stretches....In passage after passage, Angelmaker opens up, making room for the reader, until we aren't merely empathizing with Joe Spork's plight but feeling it keenly....All the more reason to applaud Harkaway for creating Joe Spork: not only like us but likable, a hero who serves not as a dark mirror but as a funhouse one."
"Review" by , "[A] gloriously uninhibited romp of a novel....Harkaway has managed to recapture the lighthearted brio of an earlier age of precision entertainment, when the world was deemed to be perpetually teetering on the brink of Armageddon but always capable of being snatched back to safety with a quip, a wink, [and] a judo chop."
"Review" by , "A lot of books are fun to read for the plot; a smaller percentage display this artful mastery of the language. And precious few manage to do both. Angelmaker, the second novel by British writer Nick Harkaway, falls into that last category....This is not the sort of book I zip through, despite wanting to know what happens next. It's the sort of book you want to let steep in your brain a bit before you take another taste."
"Review" by , "An intricate and brilliant piece of escapism, tipping its hat to the twisting plots of John Buchan and H. Rider Haggard, the goggles-and-gauntlets Victoriana of the steampunk movement and the labyrinthine secret Londons of Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair, while maintaining an originality, humour and verve all its author's own....Angelmaker must have been huge fun to write, and it is huge fun to read....A fantasy espionage novel stuffed with energetic, elegant writing that bowls the reader along while reflecting profitably on the trends of the times. Gleefully nostalgic and firmly modern, hand-on-heart and tongue-in-cheek, this is as far as it could be from the wearied tropes that dominate so much of fantasy and SF. I can't wait to see what Harkaway does next."
"Review" by , "Harkaway's celebrated debut, The Gone-Away World...was really just a warm up act — a prodigiously talented novelist stretching muscles that few other writers even possess — for this tour de force Dickensian bravura and genre-bending splendor....This is a marvelous book, both sublimely intricate and compulsively readable."
"Review" by , "Harkaway keeps us guessing, traveling the edges between fantasy, sci-fi, the detective novel, pomo fiction and a good old-fashioned comedy of the sort that Jerome K. Jerome might have written had he had a ticking thingy instead of a boat as his prop....His tale stands comparison to Haruki Murakami's 1Q84."
"Review" by , "A long, wild journey through a London dream world....With its bizarre scenarios and feverish wordiness, its huge cast of British eccentrics and the ark forces of paranoia and totalitarianism lurking everywhere, this novel recalls the works of Martin Amis and Will Self. Immense fun and quite exciting."
"Review" by , "A puzzle box of a novel as fascinating as the clockwork bees it contains, filled with intrigue, espionage and creative use of trains. As if that were not enough to win my literary affection, Harkaway went and gave me a raging crush on a fictional lawyer."
"Review" by , "You are in for a treat, sort of like Dickens meets Mervyn Peake in a modern Mother London. The very best sort of odd."
"Review" by , "Nick Harkaway's novel is like a fractal: when examined at any scale, it reveals itself to be complex, fine-structured and ornately beautiful. And just like a fractal, all of this complexity and beauty derives from a powerful and elegant underlying idea."
"Review" by , "This brilliant, boundless mad genius of a book runs on its own frenetic energy, and bursts with infinite wit, inventive ambition and damn fine storytelling. You finish reading it in gape-mouthed awe and breathless admiration, having experienced something very special indeed."
"Review" by , "A joyously sprawling, elaborately plotted, endlessly entertaining novel filled with adventure, comedy, espionage, and romance, Angelmaker also deals with intriguing questions of free will and the nature of truth without stopping to take a breath. As if the book is made of clockwork, the pages turn themselves."
"Synopsis" by , A rollicking romp of a spy thriller from the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World.

Joe Spork fixes clocks. He has turned his back on his father’s legacy as one of London’s flashiest and most powerful gangsters and aims to live a quiet life. Edie Banister retired long ago from her career as a British secret agent. She spends her days with a cantankerous old pug for company. That is, until Joe repairs a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, inadvertently triggering a 1950s doomsday machine. His once-quiet life is suddenly overrun by mad monks who worship John Ruskin, psychopathic serial killers, mad geniuses and dastardly villains. On the upside, he catches the eye of bright and brassy Polly, a woman with enough smarts to get anyone out of a sticky situation. In order to save the world and defeat the nefarious forces threatening it, Joe must help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago, and he must summon the courage to pick up his father’s old gun and join the fight.

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