A Twenty First Century Gothic Vengeance Novel
A Vampire Novel set in Renaissance Florence
Angelica’s Revenge follows in the footsteps of writers of the old Gothic genre. Written as a prequel to The Cougar, a story about shapeshifter vampires that is set in Renaissance Italy and modern British Columbia, it tells the first part of shapeshifter Raffaelo Gabriellini’s life story.This takes us right back to his half-brother’s conception in Florence and his own birth in Gubbio, Italy.
The villain of the piece and title “heroine” of our story is a woman beyond redemption who sets her heart on a rich, married man whom she can’t possibly hope to win and then destroys herself in the aftermath of disappointment. Unlike de Sade's Justine, who at least has the merit of starting as an innocent, Angelica knows what she wants and sets out to take it. She is selfish from the beginning but her actions and their terrible consequences turn her from simple narcissist to psychopathic monster over the course of the novel.
The story is set in Renaissance Florence at a time when art was at its pinnacle and yet a destructive asceticism was slowly fermenting beneath the surface spear-headed by the person of Girolamo Savonarola. This would be unleashed on the death of de Medici and plays a part in the later life of Michelangelo and of Raffaelo.
Girolamo Savonarola - the Enemy of Art in the Renaissance
Two Female Vampires in Conflict
Angelica's Revenge is an old-style Gothic horror tale dealing with the twin themes of good versus evil and the relentless pursuit of vengeance. The vampires featured within differ from the usual canon in that one, Angelica, is a revenant from the Romany tradition of the "Mullo". A person so tainted by evil that they return from the dead to pursue a double life as an everyday mortal by day and a monster by night. She is a vampire and a succubus and there is no limit to her merciless rage.
The other is an avatar of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet who can assume the shape of a lion at will and whose twin tasks are to observe the evil that men do and to protect the innocent. Her ruler is Ra the Sun God and she is most protective of women and children. The novel is set in Renaissance Florence and this backdrop was researched extensively.
Angelica's Burial Place
Vampires and their Like, the Mullo
Vampires come in many varieties, shapes and sizes too. We are all too aware of the delicious sparkly variety - Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart keep us drooling and are for the most part harmless to humanity. They are not the terrifying villains of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, nor the older revolting archetypes of legend like Nosferatu. Angelica is a totally different sort of vampire; she is born of the “mullo” legend; a revenant who must return because she is already beyond redemption. She comes back from the dead and can live as a human but by night she becomes a bloodsucking monster for some, an enticing and deadly succubus for others. Angelica is deadly and unpredictable, her vengeance is sometimes swift but often torturous and she is without fear or conscience. Immune to all the usual anti-vampire weapons, she will even wash the blood from her naked body in the font of a church and can only be destroyed by beheading and staking.
His heart skipped a beat when he saw her; then it quickened, the arhythmia making him momentarily giddy, and he staggered in the doorway. The servant girl steadied him and gazed into his handsome face with concern. She saw the blood drain and then rush back, his countenance burned with shame as he stood shivering.
“You look unwell, sir. Is it the fever?”
“Thank you Maria, it is nothing to worry about. I will be fine.”
She helped him across the room to a chair beside the bed. What was this tightness in his chest now? It felt like a hand had taken his heart and was squeezing the life from it. He felt short of breath, his belly was a writhing nest of worms and the ache in his chest threatened to unman him. Angelica leaned over his wife, silk cloth in hand, and soothed her brow with cologne. Had he imagined the glint and flash of steel in her hand? His mind must be playing tricks.
“What is the matter, sir? “ She asked innocently. “Does my presence here offend you?”
“Leave this room at once, girl. I will not have it, do you hear? It is not right.”
Antonia stirred briefly. “What is not right?” She whispered and gasped for breath.
“Nothing, mistress,” Maria said in a soothing tone.
“Nothing? What do you mean nothing, allowing her in here?” Giovanni roared. “I demand you leave us now, Angelica.”
“But how have I displeased you, sir? I am only here to care for your wife.”
“You will not lay a hand on her. Your place is not here. Leave us at once!”
“So angry when I would just comfort her at the last? Why, this is not like you at all, sir.”
“I said leave us Angelica, and I meant it. I will settle your wages with you tonight and you will leave us. Your place is with your husband and son in Florence, not at my wife’s bedside.”
“My husband, but your son,” she hissed.
A Fascination with the Past Lives of Ordinary People.
The characters of Georgio the fisherman and his companions represent what it would be like for the common working man in Florence. Too often history focuses on the rich and powerful and all that remains behind to show the existence of the poor are a few simple artifacts; an unmarked grave, a trident, an odd lantern shaped net, a few Mannerist oil paintings of men on the river, a brightly coloured desco da parto, a tattered shawl - or a trullo in the woods perhaps. The past is an obsession I’m afraid, so even though this gothic horror story is nothing but fiction the history within is more or less accurate and that suits me. Old things fascinate me and there is more to this story than a simple revenge drama.
Fishermen on the River Arno in Florence
Fishing on the River Arno...
THAT morning a warm glow possessed the Florentine sky; a golden fire blazed sublime, interlaced with vivid orange and warm russet clouds. As the sun began to rise, light wove a tapestry of radiant white and primrose yellow streaks of lace on a rich brocade of dark brooding clouds; golden piping and silver filigree against a cloth of burgundy velvet. Rising slowly from beneath this glorious, rich horizon, the sun blazed an irresistible spotlight on verdant green embankments and a saffron honeycomb of buildings along the opposite bank, its radiant energy suffusing them all with life. As the river flowed on and on like a molten stream of bronze, brilliant metallic streaks of silver and gold illuminated the water; the elongated ghosts of arches of the Ponte Vecchio shimmered on the river’s tranquil surface.
“Georgio! You look tired this morning,” Giulio shouted. His companions laughed merrily as they steadied the little boat and loaded their nets and tridents. Georgio looked about him, inhaling the crisp, morning air and smiled.
“You would be tired too if you had a wife like mine. I feel like the luckiest man in Florence.”
“Ah! She cannot be that good, you mark my words, when her belly is full and there are more little Georgios under your feet with hungry mouths to feed you will be singing a different song all right.”
“Never, Giulio! She is the sun rising in my morning sky.”
“Shut up you two. Let’s get out on the river while we still have a chance of catching one of those really big fish.”
They turned the curved prow of the little boat upstream against the flow of the River Arno and paddled away from the Ponte Vecchio and the tall buildings towards the weir where the water ran fresh and little oxygen rich eddies tickled the fish’s gills making them careless and playful.
As Giulio paddled into the centre of the wide shallow river and Pietro steered the little boat, Georgio peered intently into the clear water beneath. A huge catfish swum lazily beneath the boat, its diet of carp, rats and beaver-like nutrie that played in the Arno river had served it well but now sluggish from the cold water and a full belly it fell prey to Georgio’s practised arm.
“Don’t fall in, mate, it’s a real monster,” Giulio shouted as his friend lunged with the trident.
The Cougar - the story that started it all
Another different sort of vampire - the avatar of Sekhmet
Aunt Juliana, the “good” vampire, is virtually kidnapped by the Egyptian High Priest Ankhefensekhmet. As his name suggests, he is a servant of the Goddess Sekhmet and her legend is explored in the novel. Juliana’s “ransom” on behalf of her husband Jacopo is to become an avatar of the Goddess Sekhmet charged to report back on human evil. As Sekhmet's avatar, she is able to transform into the shape of a great lion at will. This is a terrifying burden at first, but she has little choice if she is to save Jacopo's life. For her, to kill and feed on a human would result in her destruction by Ra, the Sun God. Angelica’s thirst for vengeance inevitably causes the two vampires to meet in combat and the ending ultimately sets the scene for Raffaelo and Berenice, the second part of this historical horror story to be written next year.
Sekhmet the Lion Goddess
Juliana meets the Goddess Sekhmet
The streets become darker now. Musty odours of dried fish, the rich tang of exotic spices, a metallic scent of chicken blood and the stench of male urine assault her senses as she is pulled more urgently onwards by the Egyptian priest. Then, as the first cries of the muezzin ring through the Islamic quarter, Ankhefensekhmet drags her into the dark entrance of a building.
“Quickly, we have to go deep into the basement,” his voice is cold and commanding now. “You must hurry.”
It is dark, cool, and terrifying. She wonders if she has done the right thing and he senses her trepidation.
“Do not be afraid, Madame. My life would be worth nothing in the hands of my Lady Sekhmet if I were to harm a woman. You will see. All is well.”
The steps are worn down. They have been trodden and deeply indented by many generations of sandaled feet and seem to spiral down forever into a dank abyss. At the bottom, Ankhefensekhmet takes a lighted taper to a torch.
“Hurry now! We are almost there,” he barks and meekly Juliana follows until they reach a huge statue.
He shines the torch on the visage of a great stone lion sitting in the proud feline posture of a sphinx. The sculpture is twenty five feet high and between its great paws she sees a large stele covered with amazing paintings. There are also strangely carved hieroglyphs showing animals with human heads, human bodies with animal heads, Kings and Queens with their slaves, chariots and warriors in battle. The torch shines directly on the image of a woman with the head of a lioness.
“My Lady Sekhmet,” the Egyptian whispers reverently.
Michelangelo, Renaissance Man, Genius sculptor and Man about Town
The young sculptor Michelangelo plays a strong part in the story, some of which takes place in Medici's garden at the Humanist Academy. He is definitely “one of the lads” - a talented young artist who loves to party and wants above all to be accepted. Art history tells us that the famous artist's first love was always working stone and he personally regarded murals as a chore. Painting the Sistine Chapel was to cripple him with arthritis.
An interesting fact about Michelangelo is that despite his injuries and personal suffering he lived to a very great age. This in itself was quite unusual in an era dominated by political unrest, violence, and the Black Death - amongst other endemic and potentially fatal diseases.
In this tale Michelangelo features as a young man and a friend of Anthony, the natural son of Angelica and half-brother to Raffaelo. He also saves Raffaelo's life and his famous statue of the Pieta features at the end.
Portrait of Michelangelo as an Old Man
Michelangelo meets Raffaelo
The crooked-nosed young man who had been chipping away at the large block of marble in the corner wandered over to join the little group.
“Anthony? What brings you here, mate?”
“My father passed away a few weeks ago and my mother has somehow scraped enough money together to pay for an apprenticeship at the yard. So I’m going to join you,” Anthony grinned.
“Well, see that bloke over there,” he pointed. “That’s Pietro Torrigiano, he’s a miserable so and so. There’s only one thing he hates more than apprentices and that’s anyone with real talent. Stay well away from him. The swine broke my nose last month.”
“Well, if he lays a finger on me he’ll not live long enough to tell the tale,” Anthony said gruffly. His fists balled up at his sides and his face set in a determined grimace. Buonarroti didn’t answer his friend. He simply stared at Raffaelo and let out a low whistle of admiration:
“Now who is this?”
He grinned and extended his hand to the handsome youth at Anthony’s side. Vivid, almost mocking blue-green eyes shone out below a curly mop of shining black hair.
Expect only the unexpected from this modern Gothic terror
Angelica's Revenge is a terrifying stand-alone novel, full of bloodlust, murder and mayhem but goodness does win in the end - although perhaps in a way you would not expect.
There is no evil act to which Angelica will not sink...
Angelica the vampire leaned over to suck the last vestiges of life from the mortal wound she had inflicted. Satiated for now, she rose from the corpse. Votive candles guttered on the side altar, flickering desperately as she passed through the nave of the darkened church. Even the statue of the Blessed Virgin seemed to hang her head as though in shame. The trail of those blood stained sandals, intended to deceive the villagers, led swiftly to the font. Here she leaned over to look into the water, leaving no reflection on the surface. Holy water held no mystery or fear for such as her.
Angelica smiled as the pure, still water gently rippled to life. She heard the soft plink of liquid dropping into liquid. First one, then two, then many little red droplets splashed softly into the water below sending delicate, twisting vermillion tendrils through its clear, hallowed substance. The priest’s lifeblood curled, rose and billowed like eddies of smoke from a snuffed candle. Silently and purposefully she washed herself clean in the holy water before returning to the shelter of the yew tree in the cemetery.
Angelica's Revenge - Paperback Cover
© 2018 Lisa Marie Gabriel