Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ANGELOLOGY by Danielle Trussoni

While reading this book, I felt that I was reliving Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, but with angels instead of vampires. And these angels are not angelic, by any means. They are ruthless, relentless, and more bloodthirsty than any vampire. Actually, they're Nephilim--hybrids who are the product of angels having mated with humans. Evangeline is a young nun, descended from an aristocratic family of angelologists—those who study angels. Her mother died under mysterious circumstances, and Evangeline reunites with her estranged grandmother, Gabriella, when it becomes apparent that the conflict between the humans and the Nephilim over a hidden lyre is coming to a head. Trussoni quotes several passages of scripture from the Old Testament to help obscure (or emphasize, depending on your perspective) the fact that this is a fantasy novel and even provides an explanation for how the Nephilim survived the flood. One of the Nephilim, Percival Grigorio, has engaged the services of an art historian, Verlaine, to help him discover the whereabouts of the magical lyre whose music may help Grigorio overcome a degenerative disease. (I kept wondering if Verlaine was himself a descendant of the French poet, but this was never mentioned, so I guess not.) Verlaine and Evangeline cross paths when Verlaine digs into a correspondence that took place between Abigail Rockefeller and the Mother Superior of the convent some 50 years before. Thus ensues a scavenger hunt, reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code. (In fact, Dan Brown's title Angels and Demons would certainly have been appropriate for this book.) The abrupt ending brought to mind the emergence of a superhero, akin to Peter Parker when he gets bitten by a spider and becomes Spiderman. In other words, the literary influences here range from Biblical to comic book, with a few popular novels thrown in for good measure. Several reviewers have remarked on how imaginative this novel is, but its originality was marred by how much it seemed to draw from other sources.

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