Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: Angel Time by Anne Rice

Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Publisher: Knopf Canada
ISBN: 978-0-676-97808-7 (0-676-97808-8)
Pub Date: October 27, 2009

From the Publisher:

Angel Time is a dark, suspenseful novel about angels, reluctant assassins and a journey of redemption. (click here for more of the synopsis)

I have always enjoyed Anne Rice's novels but had been hearing mixed thoughts about her works since re-affirming her faith. When Angel Time was being released, I was curious to see how her writing had been influenced, if it had been at all.

I struggled with the first two chapters of Angel Time, as they were scene-building but I felt it went overboard on the description on San Juan Capistrano, The Mission Inn, etc., the area where the story begins. The main character, Lucky the Fox, is more than interesting, making up for this aspect.

As I got further into the meat of the story, Lucky, formerly known by (his real name of) Toby O'Dare, is approached by an angel, Malchiah, with an offer of redemption; if he gives up his life as an assassin and helps out this angel, he will be forgiven for his previous misdeeds (putting it very mildly.)

This is where things got very interesting for me. "Angel time" is described as the area or realm through which the angels can see all that has happened, all that is happening, and all that will happen. Lucky and Malchiah travel into angel time and end up in 13th century England, amidst a quarrel between the Christian and the Jews. A Jewish family has been accused of poisoning their daughter because she went to the Christian church to see the holiday pageant.

It is this scenario that held my attention the most. I think it's common knowledge that the Jewish people have had harrowing times over many millenia. The situation being played out here illuminated for me one instance of this history. While being rich enough to play the role of money lenders in the community, the Jews were stigmatized by having to wear badges on their clothes to indicate their religion. (For me, this is unthinkable!) Lucky's job is to placate the Christians, smoothing things over for the Jews to allow them to continue living.

This was emotional, eye-opening, and a decent historical look at how religions were viewed at that time. I hope today, while I know that it is far from a certainty, for most of the world, people are allowed to believe whatever they choose without having to publicly share those beliefs or justify them (barring extremists, in my opinion, of course.)

Angel Time is the first novel in Anne Rice's new series, Songs of the Seraphim. For me, I think that Anne's writing has always included elements of faith, so I don't really see a huge difference as far as it goes. I think she gave a very fair interpretation here, with the added richness of Toby's character. I'm glad I didn't give up on it at chapter 2.


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