A Review of “Fire Angels” by Joseph Richardson

A few weeks ago a friend passed me a copy of “Fire Angels”, a self-published novel by Joseph Richardson. Fire Angels is the story of David and Sara Cooper, and their son Noble, set in Walako, Florida during the period of 1915-1925. In this story Richardson attempts to weave a complex narrative into which he draws xenophobic anti-German sentiment, racial hatred, and class conflict. But he tries too hard. By doing this he fails to delve into the emotions and psychological depth that would have made this story come alive. For instance, following America’s entry into World War I, David and his best friend, Robert Love, are sent to France. Following their first big battle, Robert is killed by a sniper. Following the war, David comes home and attempts to find catharsis in plowing a field. In that act David is overcome by the memory of Robert’s death and all the horrors of war Richardson did not include in the short description of David’s experience in France. The problem is that there is too much story, so nothing gets the depth necessary to draw the reader into the historical and emotional context. I wanted to be drawn into this story. I wanted to feel what David felt and really understand what life was like in early Twentieth Century small-town Florida. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

And there is something else by way of technical criticism. This novel, like many self-published efforts, could have benefited from a good, thorough professional editing. Numerous errors in the text detracted from the reading experience. For instance, I found inexplicably underlined or italicized words, dropped words, sentences all in caps, and other problems with formatting. These are not issues with style. These are basic errors I would expect to find in a draft novel, not a finished product.


About Kevin_Fraleigh

I am a novelist, and much of my writing is predicated on the concept that within each of us is a hole. For some of us, the hole is a divot, shallow and insignificant. But for many of us the hole is a cavern, deep and expansive. We try to fill it with sex or drugs or religion, but the cavern has an insatiable appetite. This is where the dark things live―the things that fill our nightmares. The things that claw at our minds. The things that inspire the stories of horror, madness, and twisted realities. From the depths of that cavern come the seeds of my stories. Won’t you join me in the dark edges of reality? Learn more about me from my blog at anytomorrow.wordpress.com. You can find my novels at amazon.com, smashwords.com, and most eBook retailers. You can also read some of my full length short stories at http://www.wattpad.com/user/Kevin_Fraleigh
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