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Book Review: Angelology by Daniella Trussoni

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If you crossed The Davinci Code and with Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, you might get something like Angelology, the first  novel by memoirist Daniella Trussoni that's got the book world buzzing. It debuted at #5 on the Indie Bestsellers list and is receiving good reviews everywhere, from Library Journal and Booklist to the New York Times. Intrigued? Read on.
 
Evangeline is a young nun at the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration St. Rose convent in upstate New York, where she's been living there since she was a child. She is perfectly content with her regulated life of prayer, chores, and work in the convent library until she receives a letter requesting access to the library from a young researcher from Columbia University named Verlaine. He is interested in correspondence between philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller, wife of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the mother superior of the convent from the
mid-1940's. Evangeline pens a denial of access, per convent policy, but she does not send it; she's not sure why.

Evangeline's instincts about the letter turn out to be justified as they set off several action-packed days that will change the course of her and Verlaine's lives. Separately, they each discover they are the midst of a war between the human race and a race of beings descended from fallen angels, as depicted in the Book of Genesis. On the side of the humans are the angelologists, scholars who have devoted their lives to studying angels and their descendants. On the other side are the Niphilim, as the hybrid human-angels are called, who have dominated world history for 2,000 years and who would like nothing more than to see their power become absolute.

Angelology is dense with description of both its angelic lore and the everyday world in which it is set — mostly in the cold of New York City and New York state in late December 1999, but also Paris and the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria in the 1930s and '40s. While it is based on a literal reading of some Bible passages, it does not require faith to enjoy it. The writing is literary but approachable, and the author draws characters that are believable if not too complex. (The plot contains enough complexity to cover for everyone and anyone.) 

Best of all, this book is fun.  Although there is an awful lot to explain, which sometimes slows the narrative down for a bit, Angelology is a first-rate thriller that includes a grand conspiracy theory, a fevered treasure hunt, and a surprise ending that screams "sequel!" (A sequel is already in the works, according to NPR.) I found it an engrossing, thoroughly enjoyable adventure, and I am surely looking forward to what comes next.
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About Nancy Fontaine

Nancy Fontaine is a librarian and freelance writer living in New Hampshire with her husband, two cats, and every four years during presidential primary season, the national press.
  • Lynn Voedisch

    Let’s hope it’s not too much like “The Da Vinci Code.”

  • Nancy Fontaine

    It’s really more like The Historian, because the writing is more lush than Dan Brown’s and the mystery is more other-worldly, but I don’t think that book is as well known.