Hmmmm, I am slightly reluctant to write this review as writers are human to and I am feeling quite critical towards this book, however books are expensive things these days (a quick check on the cover says this book retails at £12.99, although I have to admit I got it as part of a 3 for 2 at Waterstones) and I think there is a place for reviews that might help people decide whether a book is worth parting with their money for. Also I think sometimes that a ‘bad’ book can provide more lessons in how to write than a good book, as a good well written book can be seen as more akin to incomprehensible, never achievable magic, whereas a not so good book, you can see some mistakes that you might want to learn from.
Ok, so what is Angelology by Danielle Trussoni about? Angelology tells the story of the nun Evangeline who has a slightly mysterious family past that may possibly be linked to research into angels. One day whilst working in the library she meets a young researcher, Verlaine, who has been employed by the decrepit Percival Grigori to research into Abigail Rockerfeller’s links with convent. It turns out though that Verlaine is a mere pawn and Grigori has a rather sinister ulterior motive of finding an artefact hidden by Abigail Rockerfeller, that if discovered by the Nephilim, the descendents of the angels, would lead to the Nephilim becoming all powerful again.
With a description like that the book actually sounds quite good, however the first clue that the book may not be as fast paced as it sounds is the glowing quote on the cover from Kate Mosse; ‘A clever, fast-paced thriller . . . a pleasure from start to finish’, I’ve nothing against Kate Mosse and I like (but not love) most of her books, but I think you can always tell what a book might be like by who they get to do the quote and just as Kate Mosse books are not particularly fast paced, are over long and overly heavy on the adjectives, so is Angelology. Mid way through struggling through this book, in a fit of paranoia that it was just me just not getting it, I did check the reviews on Amazon (to discover that a lot of people didn’t like this book either) and to paraphrase one review which mentioned the Kate Mosse quote, the review read ‘if Kate Mosse thinks this book is fast paced she must really like watching paint dry’, which is to be honest something I was thinking to. So I should say in this rambling review, if you love Kate Mosse books deeply, ignore everything I have to say because you may very well love this book to, but you do I think have to be heavily into that style of books and I just am not.
As I mentioned earlier this book is very long and at coming in at approximately 450 pages is just too long, I personally think it would have worked better (and would certainly have been faster paced) if the great big info dump in the middle of the book had been cut out (as actually the book does get quite fast paced towards the end). There are vast sections about the history of Angelology and we as readers literally have to sit through lectures given by the characters on various topics such as how the Nephilim came into being. I think we maybe didn’t need quite so much information and the information that we did need could have been threaded into the plot differently.
And with a book that is so long, what is sad there is a whole cast of characters that could have been developed more, I wanted to know more about the evil Grigori family than the random chapters that were separated by literally hundreds of pages of more info dump. I think that perhaps Angelology may have worked better as a series of books, as there is such a large cast of characters each book of the series could have been devoted to a smaller set of characters and then bought all together in the final book, a little bit like how Charlie Higson is handling his The Enemy series (where in the second book he has gone back to the beginning of the story again and followed a different set of children to the first set of children he followed in the first book). There was quite a nice section is the middle of the book (if you ignored the lengthy lectures) about a different nun, called Celestine, who was reminiscing about her time with the Angelologists in war torn France and I think a whole book just devoted to her story would have been great, instead we get a brief introduction to Evangeline and Verlaine and then they get totally ignored whilst we get told the Celestine story.
I think the big problem with this book was that there was a problem with balance, too much depth was put into the back story whereas not enough depth was given to the cast of characters, I certainly did not find it believable how the relationship between Evangeline and Verlaine developed, but maybe call me an old cynic on that one.
A lot of people in those reviews I read on Amazon said they didn’t like the ending, I thought the ending was obvious from about half way through the book, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise put it that way.