I’ve longed for this book with bated breath. Its predecessor Angelology changed my life and, for a time, Danielle Trussoni was my goddess. When I finally purchased my own copy (I refuse to submit to the call of e-books because I love sniffing pages of new and old books *I’m weird like that*), I spent the entire weekend flipping through page after page absorbed in Trussoni’s world of fallen angels.
A decade has passed since Verlaine saw Evangeline. Now an elite angel hunter for the Society of Angelology, he has a single mission: to capture and eliminate her kind.
But when Evangeline suddenly appears, something about her seems different from the other creatures. And when she is kidnapped before his eyes by an assailant who has topped the society’s most-wanted list for more than a century, the ensuing chase pulls Verlaine and his fellow angelologists from the shadows of the Eiffel Tower to the palaces of St. Petersburg and deep into the provinces of Siberia and the Black Sea Coast, where the truth of Evangeline’s origins- as well as forces that could restore or annihilate them all- lie in wait.
After only reading until page 34, I was greatly disappointed. I felt like I was reading a book not from Danielle Trussoni but her intern. Someone with a consistent but mediocre style of writing. Someone who conjured up cardboard characters without any emotion, depth, or motivation. Someone who deliberately just compiled all research work about biblical lore, the Romanovs, Faberge eggs and made up a story about it. 😦
If you’re a fan of Angelology, skip this one and just wait for the 3rd installment. If you hated Angelology, skip this one and just wait for the 3rd installment.
What I Loved About It
It was shorter. You can feel a sense of economy in the author, an attempt to keep a tight rein on the plot and to keep the pages as concise as possible.
It expanded the world of angels. Like I said, Angelology ignited my fascination for angels. The fallen Watchers, their divine-but-damned offspring, their quest for salvation and freedom from Him, their beautiful nightmarish qualities, their physicality and power; their seeming perfection. Trussoni expanded on her mythology by featuring an entire encyclopedia of divine beings in a human population.
“There were congregations of Mara angels, the beautiful and doomed prostitutes whose gifts were such a temptation to humans; Gusian angels, who could divine the past and the future; the Rahab angels, broken beings who were considered the untouchables of the angelic world… the distinguishing features of the Anakim angels- the sharp fingernails, the wide forehead, the slightly irregular structure.”
It featured Biblical lore. Anything that expands the world of pre-Christian era and I’m all yours. Trussoni featured lengthy discussions and interesting takes on the myth of Noah’s Ark, specifically its location, why it was made in the first place, and what exactly was preserved in it.
It also links the Annunciation myth to actual impregnation. I have nothing against Jesus and Mary and God; my faith has nothing to do with the fact that the Christian Church might be hiding something. But here, Trussoni reveals the idea that the Archangel Gabriel may have actually impregnated Mary and Elizabeth, his offspring being John and Jesus. It’s a controversy that I’m all ears for.
It linked facts with angelic mythology. The Romanovs are the centre characters here, in comparison with Angelology’s focus on the work of angelologists and their quest for the lyre of Orpheus. It’s a compelling tableau of imperial intrigue and divine intervention that I’ve admired Danielle for. (See? We’re on a first-name basis now 😀 )
What I Loathed About It
It was divided into Circles. Initially, I thought Danielle would be my Virgil and she’d take me deeper and deeper into the circles of Hell, all the while increasing my faith and belief in the Divine Maker. But boy was I wrong.
The 9 circles she features have no pattern, no preceding thought, and no order. It’s possible that someone from her publishing company just thought to add it because “It is cool.” It’s not. It’s merely a ploy to get readers excited that they’re in the 5th Circle: Fury, but disappointing them when absolutely nothing of worth happens in that circle. They’re not prevailing themes for each chapter; I’ve tried narrowing them down into themes or recurring thought patterns or actions, but nothing. They’re just hogwash.
For your reference, here are the completely-irrelevant-but-could-have-been-awesome Circles:
1st Circle: Limbo (5-40)
2nd Circle: Lust (43-84)
3rd Cricle: Gluttony (87-129)
4th Circle: Greed (133-157)
5th Circle: Fury (161-190)
6th Circle: Heresy (193-241)
7th Circle: Violence (245-261)
8th Circle: Fraud (264-292)
9th Circle: Treachery (295-302)
It was riddled with caricature characters who had no motivation other than intangible unnamed feelings. The characters never do anything except sprout the author’s “ideas” about history, angelology, and divine mythology. They are not humans who have favorite books or have past lovers or get scared shitless by bugs. I found them to be merely plot devices; able to move the story from one location to another without garnering sympathy (or any kind of emotion) from readers.
What I hated most was the fact that Trussoni took her time describing how precise angel hunters were, how efficient, and how deliberate. But then, she pulls the rug from under us when they can’t even chase down or otherwise overpower one of their target angels. It’s frustrating, seriously.
Perhaps the only sort of deeper background we get is this:
“He would be forty-three years old in less than a week and he was in the best condition of his life, able to run for miles without breaking a sweat.” ¬Verlaine’s POV
And even this is implausible. I mean COME ON, not break a sweat? Is he Superman?
It was flat. It gets boring, very boring. It’s hard to believe that someone who wrote Angelology—one of the most riveting and absorbing tales I’ve read to date—can’t even show how her characters are performing in her plot. Again, they’re merely spewing academic research and controversies about Russian imperial past and biblical lore.
It is also FILLED with recognizable writing styles that are incredibly annoying, like her constant use of “as if”. This is merely a realization right after I read Jenni’s review here . Now, when I try to reread it, the “as ifs” become a tick in my eye. Try it, you’ll spot the “as ifs” and realize that they’re completely unnecessary.
It posited the possibility of royal eggs. I believed Orpheus’ lyre, the Devil’s Throat in Bulgaria, the imprisoned angels, and the modern Nephilistic society. But eggs? Come on! How does a woman gestate an egg? How does it come out of her vagina? And when it comes out, does it hatch immediately or does she have to sit on it? And Peter the Great came out of an egg? Trussoni writes “how such a birth had come to pass was never documented…” Yeah, convenient plot point huh.
More importantly, do angels have egg babies? Are they birds? Birds evolved from dinosaurs, so are angels descendants of dinosaurs? Or are dinosaurs descended from angels? There’s too many logistical weirdness to all the egg drama and I dcan’t suspend my disbelief that far.
Trussoni merely presents this possibility by:
“Verlaine stole a look at Vera, wondering how all of this was striking her. It seemed that her dubious theories about Easter eggs and royal egg births could be supported by the tsarina’s collection.”
Seriously? So because the Romanovs had a fascination for Faberge eggs, they’re actually damned angels who give birth to egg babies meant to be great? I have a fascination for dragons, does that mean I’m half reptilian-fire-breather?
It was seriously anti-climactic. Each location-scene ends with a thrilling cliffhanger; seriously, EACH OF THEM. But when we return to that scene, absolutely nothing happens. The moth-ridden rug is pulled from under us again. WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU, DANIELLE?
By the beginning of the 7th Circle, I’m already wishing for it all to end. And through the 9th Circle, with the unsatisfying climax (it’s not really climactic) of Evangeline bursting free from her prison and meeting Lucien, her part-seraph part-Archangel father, I’m enraged.
More than three hundred pages dedicated to creating a canvas of angel background, Archangel conception, imperial and biblical lore, and creating this annihilistic formula, and it just ends like that? FUUUUUUUUUUUU!
It destroyed the main characters. Verlaine and Evangeline were absorbing characters in Angelology, but here they’re almost ridiculous. They rarely have moments of rational or relatable emotion. And for the times that they do, it’s never really explored but merely described. Verlaine’s emotions virtually went from “I need to find her” to “I love her” to “I need to kill her” and back again to “She’s not so bad after all” then again to “I hate that freakin’ bitch”.
It ended SO badly. By the time they were able to make the “magic formula”, after uselessly discussing imperial backgrounds and Noah’s greenhouse collection, Trussoni excites us with the possibility of an impending war between the divine angelic Watchers and the condemned Nephilim.
So what happens? Verlaine becomes a leader for the angel hunters, he thinks to kill all the Nephilim AND the Watchers and vows to kill Evangeline after her stealing the formula and flying into the sunset with Lucien.
Isn’t that a load of hogwash?
THE BOTTOM LINE
The book is a flop. There’s no beautiful prose or linguistic grace in its pages. It’s simply a weird amalgamation of a confusing story about damned angels, their hunters, an illogical kind of attraction, and the Romanovs.
It’s not worth the disappointment. 😦
P.S. I’ll post my review of Angelology soon — as soon as I get my book back from someone who borrowed it *GIVE ME MY BOOK BACK!*