Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars

Robert Langdon and Symbology, move over, there’s a new pseudo-science in town – Angelology. In Danielle Trussoni’s book, Angelology is the study of angels, in general. The Angelologists however, are a vigilante force specializing in the Nephilim.

The author cites Biblical references, telling us the story of a group of Angels known as the Watchers, who were sent down to Earth to keep an eye on humanity. Apparently they liked what they saw; at least the female half of it. The hybrid offspring born of these angel/human relationships, and their descendants are the Nephilim. Those who envision angels as ethereal beings of goodness are in for a rude shock. The remorseless, narcissistic Nephilim bear more than a passing resemblance to the soulless denizens of various vampire novels.

Drawn into the centuries old warfare between the Nephilim and the Angelologists, are a naïve young art historian - Verlaine, and an equally unprepared nun - Evangeline. The author, though drawing upon several tried and true literary archetypes, has certainly come up with an intriguing, and richly imagined plot. In the first part of the book, she whets the reader’s curiosity, with a tantalizing start. But unfortunately, the plot flounders in the crucial second half, in its description of the Angelologists’ exploits in wartime Europe. However, she recovers her footing when she steers the story back to present-day New York. The book’s ending seems poised over the edge of a sequel.

There are a few narrative gaps in the plot. In answer to the question, why haven’t the wealthy and powerful Nephilim obliterated their antagonists, this is the answer:

“…they have a remarkable flaw…what they do not have is the intellectual prowess, or the vast store of academic and historical resources that we do. Essentially, they need us to do their thinking for them.”

That clears it up.

She devotes an inordinate amount of words to rapturous and repetitive descriptions of the Nephilim’s physical beauty – their stature, the blondeness of their hair, the blueness of their eyes, the paleness of their skin…ad nauseam. It’s like we’re dealing with a particularly vapid but vicious species of Scandinavian supermodels.

The author’s characterization tends to come off as flat and wooden. And never is this more evident, than when she talks about the Nephilim, who seem mostly caricatures of villainy, rather than the real thing.

If you’re truly intrigued by angelic malfeasance, and want to see bad done right, there’s no match for Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, or his charismatic, doomed anti-hero – Lucifer. He has a certain devilish charm. Don't be put off by its 'Classic' credentials. It got that label for a reason.

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