Friday, August 6, 2010

Book review: Angelology

*Must apologise in advance if this doesn't read properly - but this review was probably the hardest review I've ever written and it's also very late right now, so my brain is not functioning at its fullest. Must go get some sleep*

Angelology
Combining elements of Angel lore, Greek mythology, literature, secret codes and societies, Angelology is an ambitious and interesting, but not very easy book to read.  

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni (Penguin)

Sister Evangeline is a young nun who resides at the St. Rose Convent in Milton, New York. Going about her daily duties, she lives a relatively quiet and non-descript life. 

When she receives a request from a Verlaine (a scholar doing research for Percival Grigori), asking for access to potential records of correspondences between art patron and philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller and Mother Innocenta (a revered nun within the walls of the Convent), her ordered life is quickly turned upside down.

The correspondence confirms that angels walk amongst them, and also confirms that their cruel descendants, the Nephilim - an antediluvian race born as a result of human and angelic (fallen angels specifically) interbreeding - are still around.

The correspondence also provides hints pointing to the location of a hidden artefact that the Nephilim are desperately looking for (this artefact that has the power to enslave humanity but is also rumoured to possess an astonishing amount of healing power) - and although Verlaine's interest in the correspondence is purely academic, he doesn't realise that Percival Grigori (whose ailing condition has caused his wings to rot) is a Nephilim.

Evangeline's growing interest in trying to discover more about the correspondence sends her on a journey into the past, learning about the secret Angelologist organisation that her parents have long been part of and plunges her headlong into a war between good and evil that has been waged for centuries.

My thoughts?

Let me start off by saying that this was no easy book to read. And reviewing also no easy feat. The book took me forever to read, which, considering the fact that I'm a relatively fast reader, says a lot.

The premise of this novel is certainly an ambitious undertaking, and a very interesting one to boot.  The book contains a labyrinth of historical fact, mythological references (particularly pertaining to Greek mythology) as well as references to literature work like The Book of Enoch.

When you start reading, you immediately get the sense that Danielle Trussoni certainly knows her way around research. While this is a good thing, I found that it detracted from the novel because there was just so much information to process.

Because of this, the novel seems to be rather slow-moving and one has to literally trudge your way through a good number of chapters before it really becomes interesting.  In fact, getting past the first few chapters or so ended up being quite a laborious process which resulted in me nearly giving up on this book on numerous occasions.

Luckily for me, persistence won and towards the middle of the book, during flashbacks to war-torn Paris, I finally found myself intrigued with the world of Angelology, Angel lore and the whole notion that nephilistic giants were walking around in a modern setting. 

I especially found this interesting considering the fact that according to many online references out there, the Nephilim are considered to be an antediluvian race of beings)

At times, it felt like this book almost read like a reference book, but the vivid descriptions (Trussoni is unbelievably skilled at conjuring up vivid images of 1940's Paris as well as modern-day New York) of the settings (think modern art galleries, art works and museums) and the Angelic beings definitely make up for the - at times - rather dry prose.

The characters?

Strangely enough, it wasn't really Evangeline or Verlaine who stood out for me, but rather a certain Sister Celestine (a background, but central character), whose history with the Angelologist society I found incredibly fascinating, simply because her voice really gripped me and her back story was something I really found worth reading .

Another character that also really stood out for me, was the villain of the story - Percival Grigori, the Nephilim. 

For someone who is suffering from a disease that seems to be wiping out the Nephlistic race, she at once portrays him as an arrogant, cold-hearted Nephilim and a desperate being willing to do whatever it takes to get his hands on the artefact ( in the process almost coming across as being human in all of his Nephilistic grandeur).

Of course, he is also quite cruel, but yet, somehow she manages to showcase him in a sympathetic light - something which I found at once interesting and disconcerting.

What really saves this book though, is the ending.

I did feel as if the loose ends were tied up a little too quickly, but I thought that the unexpected twist in the novel (and I really didn't see that one coming) was a great way to ensure that the end of the novel is a nice set up for the next instalment in this trilogy and has left me feeling like I really have to read the next book in this trilogy.

There are also definite hints of a potential romance - and that is something that I would really like to see explored in the next novel.

If you're looking for a Lauren Kate or Becca Fitzpatrick kind of novel, you probably won't find it in here, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't read this. Despite the book's shortcomings, Angelology is an interesting and very different take on Angel lore that may just surprise you.  I know I'm at least going to give the second book a try.

My final rating: 3.5/ 5 stars

9 comments:

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

thanks for the informative review!! i've seen this one so many times but never had any idea what it was about. sounds really heavy though.

Aisle B said...

I've seen this book at Indigo and I keep eyeing it. Your review makes me want to take the plunge through despite the misgivings at the beginning. I'll put it on request and may just go ahead with it. Great review Tammy, very thorough and very appealing for its honesty.

Have a great weekend :)

asamum said...

Glad you persevered with it. I gave up after a few chapters :( Think I will wait for the movie. Her research was amazing. Great review :D

Jan von Harz said...

Wow very interesting and thoughtful review. I have thought several times about reading this book, and based on your thoughts, I still may do do remembering that despite the slow-pace it has such rewarding qualities. I do like well-researched novels, and the villain sounds intriguing.

Dazzling Mage said...

Interesting review. I've seen this book while abroad and thought about buying, but then changed my mind. It seems like a complex book, with complex characters, which I like.

Still, great review, and I think I've got a sense of you're feelings about it. =)

GABY said...

I think your review was awesome, very complete. I'm not sure about reading this book because it seems to be complex, but maybe I will do it. :)

brandileigh2003 said...

In response to wanting to read Low Red Moon- my copy is now on tour at 1 ARC- feel free to sign up- there are only 4 people on it now: http://onearctours.blogspot.com/2010/08/low-red-moon-ivy-devlin.html

Stephany said...

You have just received an award. Check it out here: http://read-a-holic-blog.blogspot.com/2010/08/mon-premier-prix-my-first-award.html

Splendibird said...

This is such an articulate and thoughtful review. I'm not sure that I would have persevered with this book and admire you for having done so as it sounds like it pans out nicely. Will now definitely have a look should I come across it.