29 Aug 2011 09:59 am

Too Many Angels in the Architecture of "Angelology"

I love angels. I'm not talking about the goody-two-shoes in "Highway to Heaven" or "Touched by an Angel". I'm talking about the elusive and even terrifying angels found in the Bible, in books like Revelations and Isaiah. So when I saw a paperback with the title "Angelology" in an airport gift shop, I was certainly hooked.

Sister Evangeline is a young woman cloistered in the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in New York. The discovery of a letter from Abigail Rockefeller puts her in contact with young freelance researcher V.A. Verlaine, who unbeknownst to either Evangeline or Verlaine himself, has been hired by the Nephilim, the legendary offspring of human and angels, to find the massively powerful Lyre of Gabriel. Soon both Evangeline and Verlaine are forced to unravel a secret history spanning from Nazi Germany to the beginning of recorded history.

Despite this centuries-spanning plot (or perhaps, because of it), "Angelology" is massively uneven in execution. Just when we are starting root for Evangeline and Verlaine, we're shot off into a flashback 55 years earlier (told in first person no less). And while this massive flashback gains some momentum, the cost is character development. Unfortunately, there are no less than four flashbacks of some kind dragging down the plot. This is to say nothing of some character names which appear in the flashbacks. The leading authorities on angels have names like "Dr. Serpahina" and "Dr. Raphael". There's even one named (sigh) "Dr. Michael".

While "Angelology" might need some interior redecorating, what it does have is an extremely solid foundation. As far as angels go, the book hits all the right notes. Drawing from the Bible as well as non-canonical books like Enoch and literature like "Paradise Lost" and the myth of Orpheus, "Angelology" lives up to its name as an extremely thorough study on the subject of angels. Trussoni strikes a perfect balance between science and religion in depicting the Nephilim, who appear biologically perfect but spiritually ravaged by time and madness.

Overall, I'm glad I picked up "Angelology". It's an exciting book, packing an ending which will leave you breathless. The book ends on the verge of a sequel I will gladly buy, but I just hope the in-the-works sequel is a little more focused than this first installment. No matter how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, too many can spin this clever tapestry out of control.

(That's it for this rant. Tune in Wednesday for another installment of Blue Yonder)

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