Saturday, January 16, 2010

Angel Time by Anne Rice

From the publisher:

"Anne Rice returns to the mesmerizing storytelling that has captivated readers
for more than three decades in a tale of unceasing suspense set in a time
past -- a metaphysical thriller about angels and assassins.

The novel opens in the present. At its center: Toby O'Dare -- a contract
killer of underground fame on assignment to kill once again. A soulless
soul, a dead man walking, he lives under a series of aliases -- just now:
Lucky the Fox -- and takes his orders from "The Right Man."

Into O'Dare's nightmarish world of lone and lethal missions, comes a
mysterious stranger, a seraph, who offers him a chance to save rather
than destroy lives. O'Dare, who long ago dreamt of being a priest but
instead came to embody danger and violence, seizes his chance. Now he
is carried back through the ages to thirteenth-century England, to dark
realms where accusations of ritual murder have been made against Jews,
where children suddenly die or disappear...In this primitive setting,
O'Dare begins his perilous quest for salvation, a journey of danger and
flight, loyalty and betrayal, selflessness and love."

My thoughts:

This one is going to be a tough one to write about, so please bear with me as I flounder here a bit to try to express my mixed feelings about Angel Time. I want to be completely honest in all my reviews, and this book has both strong and weak points.

I am a huge fan of some of the novels written by Anne Rice, and when she nails it, her writing can be spectacular. I haven't read everything she's written, but I've read enough of her novels to know that not everything is created equally. Some are hit or miss. Angel Time, for me, isn't quite a hit.

I read Angel Time out of curiosity; most know the story by now that Anne Rice has publicly stated that her faith is taking her writing in a new direction. While she stands by her original works (read a fascinating essay she has written regarding this issue here), she has stated that she wishes for her writing to be inspirational and illuminating.

I wholeheartedly support positive and uplifting messages in books, and it is certainly a refreshing change to see her characters have a chance at redemption. But when you approach her novels, you have certain expectations about the reading experience, and there was definitely something missing in Angel Time. I felt like the writing was too sanitized, lacking depth and breadth and scope. Toby and Malchiah, his angel companion, were not "fleshed-out" characters, if you will,and this is very unusual for her writing; she has the ability to create vibrant and realistic characters. I was also disappointed that her breathtaking ability to describe another time, another era (the 13th century England) wasn't explored.

On a positive note, the tale of contract killer Toby O'Dare (he takes his victims by inserting a poisonous syringe) moves along quickly and reads more like mainstream crime fiction than a "metaphysical thriller," so it may appeal to fans of Dan Brown or Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle. There was very little in Angel Time that would cause offense to a reader (nothing graphic or explicit at all), and the persecution tale of thirteenth century Fluria and Meir, a Jewish couple accused of murdering their daughter for her Christian beliefs, was very moving and well-written. Their story carries a very relevant and important message of the need for religious tolerance and understanding, and ends with a message of hope and possibilities for Toby O'Dare.

A message of hope is always good.

3/5 stars

Title: Angel Time
Author: Anne Rice
Publisher: Knopf
274 pages
genre: fiction/suspense/time travel


Dr J said...

Appreciated the review -- it is often difficult to express such mixed responses to authors that can be spectacular when they produce a novel that just seems to miss the mark somehow. I thought you did an excellent job of catching the essence of both the book and your own feelings.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Fantastic review! I haven't tried her new stuff yet.

Joanne said...

Dr J and JuJu -- Thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate your comments and feedback!

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