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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Review: Bewitched and Betrayed


Bewitched and Betrayed

by Lisa Shearin
Ace Books – $7.99

Reviewed by Superwench83.

Any novel that begins with the words, “I was being chased by a pissed-off naked guy with a knife,” is a hook for me. And in typical Lisa Shearin style, Bewitched and Betrayed continues to hook the reader beyond the first line, pulling you along cliffhanger after cliffhanger, barbs and gibes in ready supply.

If you haven’t yet fallen in love with Raine Benares and her weapon-laden, spellsinging companions, now is a fine time to pick up the first book and work your way up to Bewitched and Betrayed. You could read them out of order, I suppose, but I recommend starting from the top. Bewitched and Betrayed resolves a series-long subplot thread which you will be dying to learn the answer to. So unlike those of us who have devoured each book as it came out, you don’t have to wait for the resolution. Instant gratification!

As for those who have long anticipated this release, you won’t be disappointed.

In Bewitched and Betrayed, it’s business as usual for Raine–which means it’s not usual business at all. She’s fought goblins and dark mages and hordes of demons, but this time she’s fighting death itself, in its many and varied forms. It seems that her dead enemies don’t have the courtesy to stay that way, and the lives of people she loves–one of whom she’s finding out just how much she loves–are at risk. Meanwhile, Reapers have set their sights on Raine, who is a source of thousands of souls, thanks to her bond with the soul-sucking rock called the Saghred. But even these concerns must be set aside when a dear friend is falsely imprisoned and a high-ranking official is put on an evil mage’s to-kill list.

Not typical for most girls, but then again, Raine has never been average.

I always find it hard to discuss sequels and series without giving something away, yet without speaking in such general terms as to make my words completely useless. So for already-established fans, let me just say that you can expect more of the stuff you love about the Raine Benares books–sexy goblins and sexier (in my opinion!) elven Guardians, wry and witty humor from Raine, explosions, political intrigue…and pirates, of course. Oh, excuse me, not pirates. They’re “seafaring businessmen.”

Plot-driven adventures with characters so vivid you feel like you’re right there with them through every disaster. These books are like potato chips–you can’t stop eating them up. It’s a rare gift to craft a book as riveting as Bewitched and Betrayed. Lisa Shearin has written four of them. The adventure continues with Con and Conjure next spring, and I cannot wait!

Review: The Mall of Cthulhu


The Mall of Cthulhu
by Seamus Cooper (on Twitter)
Night Shade Books – 13.95

The Mall of Cthulhu by Seamus Cooper is the funniest book I’ve read since Kimberly Frost’s Barely Bewitched. I laughed so hard that at one point, I thought I was getting chest pains. It was a muscle cramp, but for a moment there I wondered if this novel would put me in the hospital — or even on my eventual date with destiny.

Ted and Laura are bound by a shared supernatural experience that they still have not gotten over, ten years later. When they were freshmen in college, a nest of vampires tried to lure Laura into a fateful bite. Instead, young Teddy becomes an ax-wielding vampire slayer and rescues her. Neither can ever share the incident with anyone else and be believed; thus, they remain in each other’s lives.

Except since Laura is a lesbian, they can’t get too closely into each other’s lives.

Now, ten years later, Laura is a junior FBI agent and Ted is a barista at a Starbucks — er, at Queequeg’s, a coffee shop. Readers of Melville will recognize the reference.  Ted has perfected the Latte, using a slightly altered version from Queequeg’s prescribed ratios.

Unfortunately, when a man comes in and orders a half-soy, half-caf, Ted knows there’s something wrong with him. Who ever orders half-soy? He is a total jerk, so Ted doesn’t bother to tell him when he accidentally leaves a CD behind. Instead, he pockets it and uses his break time to deliver Laura a cup of coffee.

When Ted comes back, he discovers that the disturbed coffee drinker is back, and he’s shot up the entire store. He demands the CD from Ted at at gunpoint. Ted unleashes his hidden evil-fighting talent, and eventually discovers a plot to call forth the sleeping elder god/horrific monster, Great Cthulhu.

As with most really humorous novels, it is difficult to summarize the plot. You simply have to be there. So I’ll just go over some highlights.

This novel spoofs HP Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu. I’ve never read it, but I’m familiar with the story. The Mall of Cthulhu makes fun of Lovecraft’s racism — most of his villains are apparently dark-skinned — by making all the villains Angry White Men. And it makes fun of Lovecraft’s famously bad dialog — even Stephen King made fun of it in his On Writing — by having his villains go into long-winded tirades that end in the villain promising that Ted will beg for . . . well, I’ll let you read it.

The chest-pain-inducing scene came when Ted has traveled to Providence and sets up Ted to “surveil” the mall under the cover of a pushcart salesman. She doesn’t want him to get distracted by actually selling stuff, so she orders stuff that supposedly no one would ever want. Guess what happens?

Even the eventual meeting with Great Cthulhu is hysterical while remaining true to Lovecraft’s description of the monster/elder god. Cthulhu is asleep, you see, in a non-Euclidean dimension, in the dread city of R’lyeh (which I could not help but to pronounce as “Raleigh” even though I knew it was probably wrong). And Ted is bored. And when Ted gets bored, you never know what he’s going to do.

If you are at all familiar with Lovecraft, this is going to be a blast. If not, then don’t worry, because everything is hilariously explained. I loved it. It was a huge amount of fun.

Debut Graduate: The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker


The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker

by Leanna Renee Hieber
Paperback = 6.99
Dorchester

With radiant, snow-white skin and hair, Percy Parker was a beacon for Fate. True love had found her, in the tempestuous form of Professor Alexi Rychman. But her mythic destiny was not complete. Accompanying the ghosts with which she alone could converse, new and terrifying omens loomed. A war was coming, a desperate ploy of a spectral host. Victorian London would be overrun.

Yet, Percy kept faith. Within the mighty bastion of Athens Academy, alongside The Guard whose magic shielded mortals from the agents of the Underworld, she counted herself among friends. Wreathed in hallowed fire, they would stand together, no matter what dreams—or nightmares—might come.

Reviewed by Superwench83

War between the spirit and mortal realms looms, threatening to take first London, then the world. And according to her ghostly guide, only Percy Parker can stop it, by facing the underworld herself–by traveling into the land of the dead.

In The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, Percy’s strangely beautiful saga continues, along with all the ghosts, gods, and ghastly apparitions. In Darkly Luminous, the battles are more intense, the characters more intense–everything is more intense. The Guard have spent their lives trying to keep the spirit and mortal realms apart, and now they face a possibility they never considered–that they themselves may be the ones to open the way for the underworld to flow into their own. But even greater is their fear for Percy, fear that she may have to travel literally into hell and back…and fear of her promised betrayer yet to come.

A great deal of character development takes place in The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker. Percy grows from a timid, mousy girl into a woman who, though sometimes meek, can be a force to be reckoned with, capable of holding her own. Michael has a much more expanded role this time, his powers as Heart of the Guard given more time onstage. The plot itself facilitates character growth; to survive this darkness, The Guard must be united, all differences set aside, their hearts laid bare. No more can they hide their secrets.

As the title might suggest, Darkly Luminous is at times lovely, at times chilling. Strangely Beautiful featured devil-dogs and voices in the dark. Darkly Luminous features hordes of underworld minions, demons made of ash, and a kingly though skeletal figure swathed in robes that match his ruby eyes. When Percy cuts her hand and a creature of Darkness greedily laps from the pool of blood, this is only a taste of what’s to come.

I did see a couple flaws in the continuing romance. The conflicts between Percy and Alexi seemed immature at times, their emotions changing rapidly and for seemingly petty things. I think it’s because there wasn’t enough space in the book to develop their fears and inner plights fully. I also found the dialogue overly sentimental at times. But these critiques are only a blip in what was a wonderful book.

I do want to give a heads up to any other Catholics out there that there are a couple things that might make you cringe a bit. No attacks on the Church or anything like that, just things that don’t jive with Catholic belief. But it absolutely will not prevent me from reading this one again. There is no offense, no malice at all intended.

After her stunning debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, Leanna Renee Hieber had a lot to live up to, and she passed the test. Another chapter in the struggle between worlds is brought to an end–but still the Great Work goes on.

Mystery Review: SPQR I: The King's Gambit


SPQR I: The King’s Gambit

by John Maddox Roberts
Thomas Dunne Books – 14.95

I went to the bookstore specifically looking for John Maddox Robert’s SPQR novels, and bought the first two volumes. I was really looking forward to reading them. They are, after all, Edgar-nominated mysteries. Plus, they’re set in ancient Rome, which is what hooked me.

Unfortunately, the first volume, The King’s Gambit, was a disappointment for me.

Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger is a high-born but low-ranking official with a murder to investigate. And although he does his duty admirably, a lot of people don’t appreciate it — people in power like senators, gang leaders and even the Consuls themselves. One murder quickly turns to two, and then to three, and then the lives of hundreds of slaves depend upon Decius getting to the truth.

My problem with The King’s Gambit was mostly with Decius, the rather lacklustre protagonist. He is a man without the attachments that might have made him interesting. He is unmarried at about 28 or so, has no mother and an indifferent father. He apparently has no close friends, and no ladylove. His father seems uninterested in making a political alliance by having Decius marry someone. He is a completely empty slate.

This is a huge disappointment for me. There is so much drama infused in daily Roman life that Mr. Roberts failed to take advantage of. Decius’s father has complete legal control of him, and could have ordered him to marry someone who made his life miserable. Or, he could have been a widower, grieving for his lost wife. He could have been in love with a slave. But no. His heart seemed completely unattached. Oh, except for Claudia, with whom he carries a brief fling. But he walks away without any sort of attachment there, either. It was just a drug-hazed romp.

The mystery itself was serviceable with one big problem: Decius has no reason to care. He stubbornly continues the investigation, making political enemy after political enemy, with no clear reason why he is bothering other than a vague sense of justice. Then, mercifully, well into the second half of the book, the stakes rise when a man with a vast number of slaves is murdered, and they all face crucifixion if the killer is not found. Now that’s more like it!

The ending is fine and it all wraps up well. Decius has finally found a friend, or at least, a sidekick. And he is being kicked out of Rome for a while to get out of the notice of all the political enemies he accumulated.

It took me months to read this. I have the second book, The Catiline Conspiracy, which I’ll probably read eventually just to see if it gets any better. This is a vastly popular series with thirteen or so volumes, so I’m thinking it must.

However, on the strength of this first volume, I really can’t recommend it at all. The murder is uninteresting, the characters are flat and the relationships are tepid. The world-building and evident research is pretty good, as is the taste of everyday Roman life. But I already have a book on Roman social history, and I didn’t need another.

Mervi recently read this novel as well, and had a different impression.

This Week at D&R

Lots of reviews this week! Those who follow my Twitter feed (link to the right!) know some of what’s coming, so that’s a little perk for you.

Anyway, there will be two reviews by me and two by Katie. All but one is a fantasy.

In the comments of my Blogfail post I mentioned getting bookmarks made and everyone thought it was a great idea. The idea isn’t wholly my own, however. Kat at FantasyLiterature.com had some made and now I covet some for my own. I covet them, I say! Now I need to find some that won’t break the bank.

And that’s about it! Thanks for reading!

BlogFail

I must apologize for being such a poor blogger lately. I thought I’d have time this week, but then I didn’t. And last weekend I was writing fiction instead of preparing blog posts. So I was productive, but not here.

I also have one of those half written rants. You know the kind. You get halfway through it and you start wondering if it is wise for you to post it. And then you sit on it for three days before you delete it.

And, I’ve been reading. Here’s what I’ve been reading, and what you can expect reviewed shortly:

SPQR 1: The King’s Gambit by John Maddox Roberts. This is an ancient Roman mystery series. I’m a big fan of ancient Rome (inasmuch as a time period can have a fan) so I was really looking forward to reading this. Except it took me months to finish it, and I can’t entirely blame this blog. What is to blame? You’ll find out when I post my review.

I’m Reading and Tweeting on The Mall of Cthulhu by Seamus Cooper. A tweet by the author reminded me that this book was in my stack and since I needed something light, I pulled it out. I promptly got sucked in to its horrific tentacles, leaving me laughing so hard that I was longing for the sweet mercy of death. Which, if you’ve read the book, you will understand what I just said, but if not, you won’t. Look for #mallofcthulhu.

Just received Bewitched and Betrayed by Lisa Shearin. It comes out in a few weeks, so it’s got a high priority in the stack.

Sampled The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum, which also arrived in the mail last week. It also has a recent (or upcoming) release date, so I officially need four eyes and two brains.

Trying to keep my paws of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (at least for a few more months; they’re expecting a review, not an advance blurb), so I’m reading her blog instead. And I found a new blog to add to my list. She’s hilarious.

And I’m trying to keep in mind that not every blog post need be an epistle, and I really need to get more casual about this bloging thing.

A Non-Review – The Magicians and Mrs Quent

Superwench has already reviewed The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett, so I won’t do it again. This is more like a commentary.

When I tweeted about reading this novel, I got lots of return tweets (well, two or three) assuring me that I would love it. And I should have loved it. I certainly liked it, but it fell short of love for me. The reason? It relied rather too heavily on Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. It kept distracting me from the plot when I would find myself pigeonholing each character into a slot first created by Austen and Bronte, or even Charles Dickens and Daphne du Maurier:

  • Ivy Lockwood = Elinor Dashwood, with a dash of Colonel Brandon’s intellectual love of reading (Sense and Sensibility)
  • Mrs. Lockwood = Mrs. Dashwood, due to her inability to manage her finances (Sense and Sensibility)
  • Lady Marsdel = Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with a dash of humanity (Pride and Prejudice)
  • Mr. Wyble = Mr. Collins, without his humanity (Pride and Prejudice)
  • Rafferdy = George Wickham, without Wickham’s proclivity for ruining young women (Pride and Prejudice)
  • Mr Baydon = almost a perfect copy of Mr. Palmer (Sense and Sensibility)
  • Eldyn Garrett = Pip, in that he lets everyone else dictate his life for him (Great Expectations)
  • Mr. Quent = Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre).
  • Mrs. Darendal = Mrs. Danvers, but less vicious (Rebecca)

The first part of the novel is a fantasy inspired by Sense and Sensibility, with a dash of Pride and Prejudice. The Lockwell sisters are struggling to get by with an infirm father and a distracted mother. Two interesting gentlemen come into their lives (one of which might well end up gay), flirt with them, form attachments with them, and then leave. It was fun and engaging, but ends tragically and without warning, plunging the reader into Jane Eyre.

Here, it turns into a first-person Gothic romance. Mr. Quent is built up to be this huge villain, but then all of that is supposed to be a series of misunderstandings because he’s actually wonderful. Except, he isn’t. He was rather unkind and neglectful to the two children who live with him, and nothing can erase that for me.

It almost felt like Mr. Beckett had written two different books with the same character, and then tried to mash them together.

Make that three, because the third book is another voice altogether, more like the first book, except where it is different. Mr. Quent is almost wholly absent, but Rafferdy is back. And within this book — rather hurriedly — it becomes a true fantasy.

It was engaging enough to keep my interest, but I found parts of it frustrating. I think a lot of Eldyn’s problems with his sister could have been resolved if he has simply spoken truthfully to her. Rafferdy’s stubborn refusal to grow up got vexing. It was kind of fun to try to think of the original literary character who served as inspiration. A lot of people really loved this novel. And given the leisure, I would read the second novel.

Another Jane Austen-inspired fantasy is due out in August, and I have an advance copy. It’s Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey, and the blurb claims to be the fantasy that Jane Austen would have written. I’m looking forward to reading it because Ms. Kowal is one of the few short story writers that I actually enjoy reading, but I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever truly love any novel that is too closely derived from Jane Austen’s. I may be too much of an Austen fan that no other writer can come close.

(And I guess this was kind of a review after all.)

Life Back to Normal, Plus Book Swag!

After a chain of events, life is getting back to normal. They weren’t bad events, but they did disrupt my free time most vexingly.

First, I had my post-vacation illness, which I have already noted.

Then, I had jury duty on Monday, during which time I was selected for a trial. Sitting all day on those hard chairs and benches really wiped me out, especially since I was still sick. Tuesday and Wednesday passed in a blur.

Then, I had to sit on the jury. And so I did on Thursday. I was all ready to get in there and start deliberations, when I learned that I was the alternate juror. So I was excused.

On Friday, I recovered.

Which brings us to today.

I am now ready for life to return to normal. While all this was going on, I’ve received some books! In fact, I’ve received some of these as early as January. Here they are, with my impressions:

With Great Power . . . edited by Lou Anders, looks great fun. I don’t often receive short story collections, but this is one of two I have for this post.

This is the other, Diana Comet and other Improbable Stories by Sandra McDonald. She lives nearby, so she makes sure I get copies of all her books.

Tor sent me Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. Publicist information has been redacted. I was very excited to receive this book so far ahead of publication date, and I look forward to reading another Jane Austen fantasy.

Small Beer Press sent me these two very slender volumes, Meeks by Julia Holmes and Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord. Both are somewhat experimental for me.

I read the opening chapters of Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass, and it’s pretty good. But I decided it was better off in the hands of a true urban fantasy fan, so off to Deb it goes.

Same goes for Embers by Laura Bickle. Both of these are by Juno/Pocket, and both show a lot of originality, but they are better off in Deborah’s hands than mine.

Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts is the last one going to Deb. Tor sent this one, and I redacted the publicist info.

Shadows in the Cave by Caleb Fox (aka Win Blevins) is in an envelope, ready to go to Raven. If she doesn’t like it, that’s alright because the publisher (Tor) actually sent me two copies, so I have a backup. I enjoyed Zadayi Red, which is the first novel in this series of connected stand-alones, but this is a case where the second book came out too soon for me.

Raven is also getting Empire by David Dunwoody, which is a sort of zombie science fiction novel. It looked quirky and I would have read it if Raven had not wanted to. I know! Me, reading a zombie novel! This author has been published many times.

The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum is the sequel to The Hourglass Door, which I reviewed last year at Fantasy Debut. I think it will be a nice change of pace for me.

I am also still working on Canticle by Ken Scholes, and I have finished reading The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, which has already been reviewed here, but I’ll post my thoughts, too. Right now, I’m actively reading The King’s Gambit by John Maddox Roberts, a mystery set in Rome, and I hope to finish that this week.

Any of these look good to you?

Debut Review – Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding


Three Days to Dead

Kelly Meding (website)
Dell
Mass market paperback, $7.99

Reviewed by Raven

A murdered woman wakes up in the morgue, in a stranger’s body, with three days to figure out who killed her and why. After those three days are up, she’ll be dead for good. With that plot, I couldn’t pass this up. It’s 100% high-concept, as they say in Hollywood. You can hook your audience on the plot with one sentence (okay, maybe two). I got hooked, at any rate.

Blurb:

She’s young, deadly, and hunted—with only three days to solve her own murder…

When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue – in a stranger’s body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there – her troubles are only just beginning.  Before that night, she and the other two members of her Triad were star bounty hunters — mercilessly cleansing the city of the murderous creatures living in the shadows, from vampires to shape-shifters to trolls. Then something terrible happened that not only cost all three of them their lives, but also convinced the city’s other Hunters that Evy was a traitor . . . and she can’t even remember what it was.

Now she’s a fugitive, piecing together her memory, trying to deal some serious justice – and discovering that she has only three days to solve her own murder before the reincarnation spell wears off. Because in three days, Evy will die again – but this time, there’s no second chance…

However, one of the downsides of a high-concept plot is sometimes the book (or movie) ends up being mostly plot-driven, and characters don’t get developed as fully as readers (or viewers) might like. That was the biggest problem I had with Three Days to Dead.

The plot itself was fine. It hit all the right beats in the right places and included a twist I hadn’t predicted to get the characters out of a tight spot near the end (I did predict the subsequent twist on this twist). The story was resolved satisfyingly. But as someone who reads for character, I felt a lack.

Evy Stone, the murdered protagonist, is a bounty hunter who hunts “Dregs,” non-human creatures who would love to replace humanity with themselves. Actually, not all of these creatures are bad, and Evy doesn’t hunt indiscriminately. The novel includes a bunch of supernatural races, some pure evil, others less straightforward. Kelly Meding even manages to get away with elves.

Now, Evy should have been a character I’d enjoy spending time with. I tend to go for dark characters with gray morality and trauma and tragedy in their pasts. It doesn’t get much more traumatic than dead, and I think you could say as a bounty hunter operating on the fringes of society, Evy’s in the gray zone. Granted, she had some strikes against her. She’s a kickass female urban fantasy protagonist, and I’ve kind of had my fill of those. But I went into the novel hoping I’d like her because I liked the novel’s hook so much.

But I had trouble empathizing with Evy. Actually, there was only one character I found myself empathizing with, and he wasn’t major AND he got killed off (it’s not a spoiler since I’m not telling you who he is). The characters served the plot well, but they didn’t give me the emotional connection I was looking for. That made this novel less memorable and engaging than it could have been. Also, if a novel is the first in a series, which this one is, and has a self-contained plot, which this one does, then the main reason I’d go out and buy the next book would be I couldn’t get enough of the characters. If the characters didn’t leave as much of an impression on me as I would have liked, I probably won’t buy the next book (or get it as a review copy).

Of course, not everyone is like me. I’d love to hear from other people on why they continue to buy the books in a series.

My final verdict on Three Days to Dead: For fans of highly plot-driven urban fantasy with a kickass female protagonist, I can recommend Three Days to Dead as a read you’ll probably enjoy. But if you read for character, you might want to browse significant chunks of this novel to make sure Evy’s going to work for you before you commit.

Debut Review: Angelology by Danielle Trussoni


Angelology: A Novel

by Danielle Trussoni (Author Website, Novel Website – great fun to page thru!)
Viking – Hardcover – $27.95  (heavily discounted at Amazon and elsewhere)
Genre: Supernatural Suspense

This is my first foray into the realm of supernatural or religious suspense. Angelology was a fascinating look at the possible fate of the offspring of Angels, referred to in the Bible as Nephilim.

Sister Evangeline is a young nun at the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. A request through the mail from a young art scholar named Verlaine sends her searching through the convent archives, where she finds a fascinating letter. Verlaine works for a man named Percival, who quickly reveals himself as a monster.

I’d hate to say too much because the plot thrives on secrets, and I don’t want to spoil any of them. The blurb itself gives very little away:

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.
Genesis 6:5

Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria.

Rich in history, full of mesmerizing characters, and wondrously conceived, Angelology blends biblical lore, the myth of Orpheus and the Miltonic visions of Paradise Lost into a riveting tale of ordinary people engaged in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

The research in Angelology was fascinating. The various characters uses angel lore derived from the Bible and other sources known as “apocrypha”, which, according to Wikipedia, is books that the Christian church considers useful but is not divinely inspired. The plot also depends on a literal interpretation of Creation and the Flood, which in my experience is an unusual plot feature outside of Christian fiction. However, I would in no way categorize this as a Christian novel; rather it is a novel that treats sources such as the Bible and the apocryphal works with equal respect and relevance, along with an unexpected connection to the myth of Orpheus.

Angelology also employs a technique I’m seeing more and more often: it mixes first and third person. The first section of the novel, which is from Evangeline’s, Percival’s and Verlaine’s point of view, is in third person. Then, after a long and enlightening discussion with a fellow nun named Sister Celestine, the point-of-view switches to Celestine’s. It is a first-person account of her experience with the Second Angelological Expedition in the 40s. During this section, a series of readings from an account from the First Angelological Expedition is read, which takes place in the 900s AD. The final point of view returns to the above three, along with one or two others.

This is a very long novel, with a lot of backstory and reader education. In order to appreciate the story, you not only have to know all about the Flood, but also about the events after the Flood and the bloodlines that sprang from Noah’s sons. Ms. Trussoni manages to make all this interesting and engaging — not at all like a religion lesson. I liked all of the main characters, and I even managed to feel sympathy for Percival, even though he was utterly ruthless.

One of the few problems I had with this novel was the ending. The angelologists (including at this point, Evangeline and Verlaine) must go to four separate places as indicated by four very obscure clues in the letters from Mrs. Rockefeller. Percival, who until this point had yet to succeed in a single task his family set him on, suddenly and without explanation is able to out-maneuver the angelologists at almost every turn. I could see how they were able to be betrayed at one point, but I am unable to account for Percival knowing where they will meet to find the final item. I did enjoy the final struggle between Percival and Evangaline, even though Evangeline’s final fate was by now, not a surprise. I also would have liked to seen the parts that were set in the 40s feel more like a novel from the 40s. But the plot was so nonstop at this point that this is not a true critique. I just love it when authors include those atmospheric touches that make it really feel like you have gone back to that time period (a reason I love historical fiction).

The ending gave me a jolt until I realized there was probably a sequel planned. I do wish publishers would indicate whether a novel is part of a series somewhere on the cover or the title page. Although the main conflict is resolved here, there are a great many unanswered questions and one of the characters goes through a major change that only made me want to read more. And that was a good thing, because by this time, I had been reading for weeks.

Angelology was an instant New York Times bestseller, and it is easy to see why. I think Christians and non-Christians can enjoy this book, because on the one hand the treatment of Biblical lore is respectful, and on the other hand, it is not trying to proselytize. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. If you like plot-rich novels with storylines that slowly reveal themselves over hundreds of pages, if you like secret societies with secret expeditions (and who doesn’t?), and if you like stories drenched in research, then this would be a great time to catch this novel and take advantage of all the discounts. (Due to the size of it, I certainly wouldn’t want to attempt to read it as a paperback.) I think Ms. Trussoni has gotten off to a brilliant start.