Sunday, December 20, 2009

'Angel Time' an engaging tale (Anne Rice)

From The Macomb Daily (Michigan) --

'Angel Time' an engaging tale --

By Rasha Madkour --
December 14, 2009 --

Angel Time
By Anne Rice
(Alfred A. Knopf, 288 pages, $25.95)

A hardened 28-year-old hit man is given a second chance at life when an angel asks him to use his wits, cunning and courage to help answer people's prayers, instead of cutting them short.

This is the premise of Anne Rice's latest novel, "Angel Time," which recounts Toby O'Dare's tragic childhood and how he became a roving killer. After accepting his new assignment, O'Dare is taken back to Norwich, England, in the Middle Ages to help a Jewish family facing accusations of murder by an incensed mob. This comes at a time when Jews were forced to wear yellow patches to distinguish themselves from the rest of society, and when two Christian boys — Little St. William and Little St. Hugh — were said to have been victims of ritual murder by Jews. In this case, the family is accused of killing their daughter because she attended a Christmas pageant.

What follows is a relatively engaging tale, rooted in both the supernatural and real history. Angel time is defined as being in contrast to humans' natural time, since the celestial beings see all eras with equal clarity. This novel is the first in Rice's new series, "Songs of the Seraphim."

Rice, known best for "Interview With the Vampire" and other books in her "Vampire Chronicles" series, made a commitment in 2002 to dedicate her writing entirely to Jesus Christ. This promise is overtly carried out in "Angel Time," where parts of the book dealing with redemption and salvation come off sounding preachy.

Rice's religious zeal is rivaled only by her apparent obsession with architecture, as she rambles on with descriptions of the Mission Inn and various chapels.

Despite the novel's shortcomings, its unusual story line and cliffhanger ending are intriguing enough to make a reader look forward to the next installment.

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