Date Published: August 9, 2011
Number of Pages: 352
Print Price: $11.25
eBook Price: $7.99
Anne Rice has long been known as a writer of gothic tales populated with vampires, witches, devils and other supernatural beings. Her books are lavish in delicious detail, seething atmosphere, and no small amount of steamy sex often laced with homo-eroticism, sadism, and pedophilia. Her books have been phenomenally successful and she has a great fan following. Her choice to change the focus of her fiction writing to novels about Christ and angels required a leap of Faith on her part and with interesting results.
Angel Time is the first in her new series Songs of the Seraphim. As is always the case, Ms Rice writes with plenty of atmosphere, luminous settings, and intriguing characters. Toby O'Dare, the hero, if you will, of Angel Time follows in the mold of other tantalizing Rice characters, he is young, handsome, intelligent, meticulous, an accomplished musician, a lover of books, an almost too perfect man except for one thing --- he's a trained assassin with a ten year history of doing his job very, very well.
The first part of the book tells the story of O'Dare's youth growing up in New Orleans as a brilliant, precocious young man, son of a troubled alcoholic mother, and brother/caretaker to his younger siblings. After a tragedy that leaves him alone in the world he heads to New York where his skill as a musician finds him a place in the affections a mysterious guy who is clearly “connected” but who takes him under his wing and, before long, O'Dare is headed down a road he never meant to travel. Ten years later finds him alienated from virtually everyone living in a luxurious California inn with the atmosphere of a mission where he is struggling to come to terms with what his life has become. And then Malchiah arrives.
How does one feel when one day an angel shows up? This was one of the best scenes in the book because Malchiah is an angel of the Seraphim and has come to present O'Dare with a mission, an opportunity to redeem himself by undertaking a task in another century and another land. Suddenly O'Dare is transported to 13th century England, assumes the persona of a Dominican friar, and is charged with the task of helping a young Jewish couple facing the wrath of the Gentile townspeople who accuse them of murdering their child. O'Dare is faced with the injustice and irrational behavior of townspeople on a witch hunt and thirsty for blood.
The historical detail and richly developed characters in the 13th century are the finest part of Angel Time. On the surface this is an intriguing how-are-they-going-to-get-out-of-this story but on a deeper level it is a story about honor, love, and righteousness. Ms. Rice has always had a penchant for precocious little girls in her writing and this story is no different. The character of Rose is reminiscent of girl characters in both her Vampire Chronicles and her Mayfair Witches. But beyond the plotline and the characters there is one over-arching question, what is redemption? Is there any sin so great that it cannot be redeemed? Can O'Dare repent and redeem his past by righting wrongs and rescuing innocents?
I suspect some fans of Rice's previous genres --- the gothic, the supernatural, the erotic --- may find this new direction for her work a bit difficult to accept but if you can overlook the difference in details you will find that most of what has made her writing so captivating is still there. Angels are every bit as supernatural as vampires and her hero is every bit as flawed and yet worthy as her previous characters. As someone who was raised Catholic and has always found endless mystique within Catholicism, I savored the presentation of Catholic traditions, theology, and history that fill this book. It will be interesting to see if her other fans will find it as easy to enter the world of Catholic mysteries as the could vampiric or witchy mysteries.
But more than anything we are left with this question, is everyone, regardless of their past, worthy of redemption? Read it and judge for yourself.
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
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