Cassie Farrier is not your average troubled teenager, but troubled she most certainly is. Apart from an unexplained talent for German which her parents seem curiously reluctant to encourage, she is haunted each night by visions of the violent death of a little girl called Zillah, seemingly a victim of the Holocaust. Cassie’s dreams come to a head on a school trip to Germany, and on her return, her parents admit what they have long secretly suspected; that their daughter is the reincarnation of someone who lived at the time of the Second World War. In desperation, they send Cassie for ‘treatment’ at a remote old manor house, and here she meets other children similarly plagued by visions of past lives. One of them in particular – a boy called Seth – looks strangely familiar. Soon Cassie realises that she is reliving not just one past life, but multiple ones. And then the nightmares really start.
Angel’s Fury is the debut novel from an author who was a winner in SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices anthology in 2008. Bryony Pearce explores the spooky and compelling concept of reincarnation and the gradual, sinister entanglement of the past and present lives of her protagonists makes – in the main – for engrossing reading. But just as multiple lives fight to get possession of its characters, a few too many plots and ideas have been trapped in this story and thus forced into combat with one another for mastery of it.
Egmont praises its mix of ‘mythology, fantasy and real-life terror’. Personally I would have preferred less of this mix, and a greater focus on a single reincarnation: Cassie’s intriguing German past life and role in the Holocaust. Instead, the wartime theme of the early chapters gives way to a mythological plot involving fallen angel brothers, and a menacing female doctor who is not what she seems behind her red lipstick. Still, there’s much imaginative promise here which one hopes will soon be born again in a tighter incarnation.