Angel Time, Returning to my Roots

Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim

Anne Rice  
Hardcover, 288 pages
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
October 27, 2009

 

I’ve been a devoted Anne Rice fan since I first devoured The Vampire Lestat when I was in middle school.  Through her words I’ve walked the streets of New Orleans and Paris side by side with witches, ghosts, and vampires and loved every bloody minute of it.  Lestat is one of my all-time favorite characters and I practically had a relationship with him throughout my teens and early twenties. 

Since her reconciliation with the Catholic church I haven’t been quite as dedicated to Rice’s books.  After being bitterly disappointed by Christ the Lord, the first in her historical series about the life of Jesus, I wondered if maybe my obsession was a thing of the past.  I decided to give Angel Time a try, hoping that my luke warm feelings for Christ the Lord was just a fluke. 

Angel Time tells the story of Toby O’Dare through the guise of an autobiography, in which he chronicles the extraordinary events that changed his life after being visited by an angel.  If you ran into Toby on the street you probably wouldn’t look twice at him.  You might notice a lisp as he mumbles an apology or see a slight limp when he walks away, but you wouldn’t know you’d just brushed elbows with death.

Toby might appear unremarkable, but he’s actually the notorious contract killer known as Lucky the Fox.  That he’s lethal goes without saying.  But he’s also efficient, meticulous, and absolutely without scruples.  After his alcoholic mother drowned his younger siblings and took her own life when he was a teenager, Toby fled to New York where he  befriended a restaurateur who took him under his wing and gave him a job and a place to stay. 

When it looked like he might lose the only person left in his life that he cared about, Toby took matters into his own hands and went on a carefully planned killing spree, eliminating the entire faction of mobsters that were threatening his business and his life.  For the next ten years he honed his craft, working only for the one he called “The Right Man” who insisted that Toby – now Lucky – was working for the good guys. 

While the body of his latest unfortunate victim is still warm, an angel named Malchiah appears before Toby and claims that God has forgiven all his sins and now has a plan for him.  Toby will travel through “Angel Time”, where Malchiah exists, to different places in “Natural Time” where he will use his talents for the good of mankind. 

Malchiah transports Lucky to 13th century Norwich, England disguised as a Dominican friar where he will be charged with the task of saving a Jewish couple, who have been falsely accused of killing their daughter, from a violent end at the hands of the angry Christian mob.  Armed only with his natural ability to blend in, his quick intellect, and sharp wit, Br. Toby must use every ounce of his inner strength to prevent the impending bloodshed.

It’s a story of sin, forgiveness, and ultimately the struggle for redemption.  Was it one of my favorite Anne Rice novels?  No, definitely not.  Did Toby thrill me as much as Lestat, Marius, or Lasher?  Not even close.  But I did find myself engrossed in the story and despite feeling uncomfortable during certain parts that started to feel preachy, I found myself wanting to go on and keep turning the pages.  The story of Fluria and Meir was engaging and I loved how it turned into a historical novel halfway through. 

One thing I had a problem with was the length.  It felt more like a short story than a novel and in order to really get invested I needed to spend some more time with Toby while he was growing up, working for The Right Man, and questing with Malchiah.  It seemed like I only got the Cliff’s Notes version of each of these three stages in his life.  So the transitions between them happened really fast and I doubted the sincerity of Toby’s reactions.  Would he really have believed so easily that Malchiah was an angel sent down from heaven?  Would his faith return so quickly after all the horrible things he’d witnessed in his life? 

But overall it was a good read and I did enjoy returning to such a beloved author.  I also loved the way the story ended.  Even though I would have preferred to stay with Toby on his next quest, I thought the last page was perfect.  I’m looking forward to continuing Toby’s story in the sequel, Of Love and Evil, which comes out on November 30.

 Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?

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