Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Book Review: 'The Angel of a Madman' by Ricky Dragoni

Puerto Rican born Ricky Dragoni moved to Iowa and writes form there at present. He has been writing poetry and short stories since his youthful days and has published four novels to date – PRIME INFINITY, RIPPLES, THE SWIFT, and THE ANGEL OF A MADMAN. As he states, ‘’My books are born out of the nightmares of my mind and are then melded with my life experiences. I would describe my books as reality sprinkled with a good magical dose of faerie dust, written Surrealism in other words.’

Ricky’s writing style is infectious, involving, creative and wholly absorbing. He opens his strange story as follows: ‘My Codename is the Bracket and these are the tales of my missions and adventures. We had made our escape from the detention center and were now being chased by four of the slimy guardians. In our escape we were able to elude them but we were still detected. My three partners and I had constructed the perfect escape plan. Unfortunately we hadn’t accounted for the new guard not knowing his route and running into us in the hallway. The detention facility, from where we had escaped, was a level 9 maximum facility. Someone within my organization had sold me out and I resided in the Super Max for the past 5 months. Using my extensive training, I was able to break out of what most would consider an inescapable prison. If we hadn’t been detected by a rookie guard we would be well on our way to a clean getaway. Instead I could hear the wet footsteps and gargled breathing of the guards behind us. We had cleared the fence, were quickly making our way out of the city and heading towards the train tracks. It was 3:00 AM and I could already hear the train whistling in the distance. We could not miss it, the train was our only way out of this hellhole. This was our one chance and I was sure not going to blow it. We were outside the city now and I could see the train tracks out in the distance. Along with the rumbling of the approaching train, sirens were now filling the otherwise quiet night’s air. The colorful flashes inundated the darkness, as their presence became imminent. In the panic Charlie stumbled and let out a loud yelp. I stopped and considered going back to help him. Before I could decide two of the green slimy guardians had enveloped him in their oozing saliva. I could hear Charlie scream as their acid drool burned and consumed his skin. Charlie was gone and the screaming of the train’s engine mercifully drowned out his cries for help. I continued as planned and made the last sprint towards the moving train with my two remaining partners. Paxson and Jaxson had passed me in my hesitation to save poor ol’ Charlie. I picked up the pace and quickly passed the dangerous twins. I had recruited them for the escape but I knew the level of savagery they were capable of. I might have been betrayed into that prison but the twins had earned it. I knew I could not trust them long term but for now I didn’t have any other options.’

And once we have met Brackett we meet Gabriel – ‘My name is Gabriel Moreno and this is the story of how I die. The air conditioner blared in the old Jeep as I made my way through the desert down the highway. The sun was beating down on the countryside and not even the desert willows dared move. It was a majestic view full of death and hidden life. My exit was coming up and not a moment too soon, I had been driving now for two days and needed some proper rest. As I entered the small desert town, memories came flooding back to me. The streets were all familiar and I found my away around without any difficulty. It is funny, no matter how long you are gone, how far one travels or how hard one tries to forget you always remember your way around home. I stopped at the gas station to fill the old red monster and bought myself some drinks and food for the house. My walk in and out of the gas station was filled with familiar yet unrecognizable faces. It was nice to be home but I still felt out of place. Back in the Jeep I finally headed to my childhood home. Anxiety, sadness and excitement filled my stomach as I made my way through the very familiar streets. It didn’t take more than five minutes before I had left all the businesses and most of the houses in my rear view mirror. On the southern outskirts of town was a small, but full of memories, house. The short drive down the long driveway stirred more emotions than I could contain, causing tears to stream down my face.’

It is the intertwining of these two characters that creates the memorable plot – ‘In the dusty desert town of Pecos New Mexico, a unique and strange friendship blossoms. Bracket a self-proclaimed intergalactic spy encounters Gabriel. Gabriel, a world traveler, has returned home after a family tragedy and is now looking for hope in the bottom of the bottle. The desert and its majestic mesas bear witness to a grand escape, and what is to be a friendship for the ages. Experience this tale through both unique perspectives; the intergalactic science fiction prism of Bracket’s reality, and Gabriel’s grip on the sad realities of life. Be part of this journey of friendship, self-realization and the healing of a broken mind. As we explore the beautiful depths of the human intellect and what it can truly achieve.’

This is a little miracle of a book, one that defies categorization, but one that indeed satisfies on every level. Watch this fine young writer grow. Grady harp, September 18
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.