Danielle Trussoni’s Miltonic fiction of iridescent fallen angels showcases a conspiracy fantasy thriller that goes through labyrinthine libraries, impressive artifacts, vividly staged settings, and epic good-vs-evil battles. Not to mention a charming and ruthless villain partnered with a dewy eyed mysterious heroine.
But is Angelology a testament to Trussoni’s brilliance as a writer? That is, following her much-acclaimed “Falling Through the Earth” memoir?
This highly allusive novel introduces the Nephilim; hybrid angels that were briefly referred to in Genesis 6: “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose… they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” But here, Danielle’s creatures are “beautiful, iridescent monsters” with golden skin, huge ethereal wings, and a shared hate of the human race.
Sister Evangeline and Verlaine, our two protagonists who are reluctantly drawn into the world of Angelology, struggle to make sense of the cryptic letters between the prior abbess of Evangeline’s convent and of philanthropist Abigail Aldrich Rockefeller.
This quest for a hidden object takes them on an exploratory journey through books, ancient texts, and recollections of “caged monsters” that concludes in a stunning climax. Iconic angel myths such as the imprisoned fallen angels in Bulgaria, the lyre of Orpheus, and the summoning of archangels is showcased in brilliant prose here. Though Trussoni’s flaws lie in her overuse of ancient archival text references and scholarly dialogue, she nevertheless succeeds in establishing the world of angelology and nephilistic monsters in vivid fashion.
For instance, are angels mere concentrations of heavenly light or are they corporeal? If so, with the absence of navels and nipples (and the assumption that they were made, not born), how are they equipped to breed? What is the relationship between the spirit and the body? How can the music of the lyre (or the music of seraphs and archangels) reconcile the human soul and the divine?
These are the kinds of myths that Danielle cleverly alludes to in the novel— and to her credit, she avoids the false tension of per-chapter cliffhangers unlike her overly-flawed Angelopolis.
Both sensual and intellectual in its style and story, Angelology is a cleverly concocted fantasy thrilled that is certainly rich in biblical references, angel myths, geographical inclusions, medieval archival text, historical points, and musicology.
This intercourse of Miltonic prose and Brown-ish conspiracy makes for a really interesting read. 😀
Meanwhile, here’s my review of its sequel Angelopolis.