Not for the faint-hearted, Broken Angel by S W Vaughn, is a tough, gritty yet thought-provoking and, at times, touching read. It has something of a timeless, dystopian setting in New York, but centres on the world of illegal fighting rings and prostitution. Destitute Gabriel Morgan, who’s desperately searching for his lost sister Lillith, gets dragged into the Ulysses House by Marcus Slade, its leader, who sees a lot of potential in the young man. He also has a unbreakable hold over him, in that he has Lillith. If Gabriel will fight for him, he’ll keep Lillith safe. Gabriel had a rough upbringing and his sister was the only good thing in his life so he’ll do anything to protect her.
Gabriel becomes Angel, with wings tattooed on his back, under the hands of his brutal trainer Jenner. He systematically breaks Gabriel down before recreating him as a focused, powerful fighter. There’s a lot of sweat, blood, broken bones and pain in this book. It’s dark and it’s challenging but it’s a very exciting read. The book isn’t just about people pounding each other into a pulp, there’s a well thought out and twisting plot holding the action together. The ending certainly takes you by surprise.
Vaughn creates a brooding atmosphere that can and does erupt into violence at any moment. He depicts a series of damaged, complex characters in the book with great and convincing detail. You see the worst in people, but also the best in the resilience and loyalty shown by Gabriel/Angel and the sheer drive to survive.
This book will keep you reading. Even if it doesn’t sound like something you’d usually read, give it a go because it’s well written and it opens your mind up to parts of society it’s too easy to dismiss as beyond salvation. Good people get caught up in bad things for good reasons.