Sunday, December 20, 2009

Anne Rice masterfully ascends to angels in latest thriller


Anne Rice masterfully ascends to angels in latest thriller --

By Carol Memmott --
2009-12-15 --

Angels, not vampires, are the supernatural creatures at the center of Angel Time, a metaphysical thriller by Anne Rice.

Billed as first in a series titled The Songs of the Seraphim, Angel Time is the story of Toby O'Dare, a young man who suffered unbearable hardships growing up in New Orleans (the city where numerous Rice novels have been set). A family tragedy on the day of his high school graduation turns him into a killer. He's a government assassin who operates, seemingly, without a conscience, but after a decade of dispatching people to the afterlife, he's visited by the angel Malchiah, who assures him it's not too late to change his ways.

To make amends, Malchiah says, Toby must travel back to 13th-century England to protect a Jewish family accused of the ritual murder of their young daughter.

Though the segue from modern-day America to the 13th century seems abrupt and awkward, Rice's fascination with the time period and the treatment of Jews more than makes up for it.

As always, Rice brings an energy and sincerity to her story. Toby, like outcasts in her other novels — vampires, the castrati and people of mixed blood, for example — is a sympathetic character who will evoke an emotional response in fans.

Readers can enjoy the story's sense of urgency as Toby attempts to save himself and take or leave Rice's overriding message, based on her own religious fervor, that God can forgive the transgressions of all who seek him out.

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