July 2, 2010

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Sister Evangeline was just a young girl when her father left her at St. Rose Convent under the care of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Now a young woman, she has unexpectedly discovered a collection of letters dating back sixty years - letters that bring her deep into a closely guarded secret, to an ancient conflict between the millennium-old Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful Nephilim, the descendants of angels and humans. Rich and mesmerizing, Angelology blends biblical lore, mythology and the fall of the Rebel Angels, creating a luminous, riveting tale of one young woman caught in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

The summary above from the publisher makes Angelology by Danielle Trussoni sound so promising and I had great hope that this would be a fantastic read, but unfortunately the novel did not live up to expectations. Albeit, maybe my expectations were too high. I won a a signed hardcover copy from Booklounge.ca and I had read S. Krisha's glowing review, so you can imagine I was quite excited to see its startling cover when it showed up in my mailbox.  I thought Angelology would be something like The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, as S. Krishna described, and in a couple ways it was. Evangaline is a young nun of St. Rose's who is suddenly confronted by an almost unbelievable past through a series of letters and she must delve deeper into the clues left for her by her grandmother to determine her history and her destiny. Superficially similar to The Historian no doubt.  Beyond the summary Angelology falls very short of the amazing work of fiction The Historian is.

I do give kudos to Ms. Trussoni for the interesting ideas involving Angelology and its intriguing historical content, as well as Angelologists and their eternal battle with the Nephilim. My mind was often left whirling from trying to absorb the unfamiliar but compelling concepts.

The novel is in three parts and changes focus from present day to historic day and back.  I found the language staccato in places, mostly at the beginning, which made immersing in the story difficult at first. A portion of the book was about an Angelologist by the name of Celestine Clochette, set years before Evangaline's time, and included some historical writings by a Bishop on an Angelology mission.  This section of the novel was truly interesting and engaging, I only wish the whole story was written this way.  There were an abundance of characters in the novel, each with their own act, which detracted from the story because point of view switched between characters too often and left me unable to become engaged with any one character more than the other.  This disconnect left me dissatisfied and feeling kind of left empty.

I am left with a couple of conclusions.  The "heart" of the story seemed missing.  Although the length of the novel at 464p (as compared to The Historian's 642p) seems average for most fiction novels, the switching from scene to scene to scene left me wanting more. There should have been much more description to enhance the erratic plot.  "Scene to scene to scene" is the operative qualifier...Angelology reads more like a movie script rather than the novel it is, depleted of all the promise of what could have been a truly great story.

My Rating: 3.0


Related Posts: 
Gothic Fiction - Historical and Timeslip Favourites


  1. I had heard such good advance tidings of this novel, but I must confess I don't recall reading many highly positive reviews. I have borrowed it a couple of times but had to return it unread. Maybe I will get to read it eventually.

  2. I think the publisher was promoting heavily before its release but its really not in the same league as much of the fiction out there. The basis for the book was great...I just feel there should have been more content. Should not be high on your priority list.

  3. That's a good observation about its similarity to a movie script. Maybe that's what the author had in mind as her ultimate objective, particularly since the ending screams "sequel." I wasn't wild about it, either, or The Historian, for that matter. It was too much like a Dan Brown novel for my tastes.

  4. Patti, I'm not even sure it was equal to The Lost Symbol for instance, which I just read. It could have been so much better as the original premise and historical context was very original. So disappointing...Maybe I would read a sequel but I don't think there will be one.

  5. It looks like the discussion here has trailed off, but I was searching for the release date of the Angelology sequel and stumbled here. I don't mean to intrude, but the discussion piqued my interest.

    I do more than a good deal of reading--books for teaching, my students' pleasure reading, my kids' pleasure reading, my own pleasure reading. Over the years I've relegated the classics to a more appropriately proportioned segment of my reading and have learned to take in much, much more. That being said, if a book doesn't have me in the first 10-15 pages it stays on the shelf and I move on; life is short and I'll never get close to "reading it all."

    But if it has me enough to keep me reading I've learned to be very forgiving. These days I see authors more as writers than as names, their work as more organic than a list of titles. It's more exciting that way. The thing that made me read Angelology was the cleverness of the plot line and specific details, as well as the admirably reaching language. There's a pleasing enough balance--for me--between what works and what's in progress.

    The same can be said of perhaps 90% of what any person reads--the scale fluctuates, but very infrequently does the balance so significantly tip that we see a work as truly.

    Angelology is not The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird or on and on and on. But it is very nice way to spend a rainy, relaxing Friday night after take-out, as I did last March-ish. It was a great dessert and one that I will happily enjoy again.

    When the sequel hits the shelves this spring, I will eagerly watch for the ebook price to drop below $10 and then snap it up. It will be fun rereading the first and moving straight into the second to see what Trussoni does with the story line, but also to see how much she's grown as a writer.

    My intention isn't to dissent with the evaluations above, but to offer an alternative way of evaluating that vast 90%. So few books are going to be The Kite Runner or Pride and Prejudice that it seems unfair to expect them to be. Better to marvel when we come across something in our personal 10% and enjoy the chocolate in between.

    Hope I didn't overstate my case.

  6. Amy, I truly appreciate your defense of the novel and fiction/reading in general. I read a variety of fiction, though practically no non-fiction, and I also read what some may consider romantic drivel and fluff...anything too serious or self-important makes reading work to me. My reviews I base on my feelings at the time of reading the book and comparing to other reading experiences of similar fiction. For me I was left feeling at the end of Angelology that it could have been more...I felt disappointed and empty...because the idea was great but the way the story was presented lacked quality. This is why recommendation websites like LibraryThing, GoodReads are so great...so readers can get a broader perspective on a work than just one person's pov.

    Kudos to the original premise of Angelology though. I hope you enjoy the sequel and I will be watching for commentary whether it is worthwhile reading.

  7. Ok, so it has only been few hours but after my well-intentioned gush I'm ready to recant. I take it all back.

    I effectively avoided grading papers by reading My Name is Memory this evening and I could scream. I'm forgiving. Very forgiving. But this was unforgivable. It doesn't even feel remotely like a sequel, at least not if the choices for the ending are in keeping with major themes of the novel. Have you read it?

    You know, I've read The Great Gatsby so often and with such affection that I've memorized the first several pages. I'm crazy in love with the beauty of language found in books like The Kite Runner and Hamlet, such that I pick them up over and over just for the joy of them. But I also just love a good story, a clever twist, some supernatural something that creates a new way of seeing something. If there should happen to be a tortured or sappy or dare I say steamy love affair or two thrown in as well, I certainly won't complain. I read it all, as long as it passes the 15-page test.

    When I hit the last two pages of My Name is Memory I wanted to ask for my evening back. A worthwhile read? Certainly. But I am so crazed over the ending I think I wish I'd never read it.

    I know I'll eventually rationalize the conclusion because it works on a technical level, but for now I'm bitter. I feel like Brashares ended up writing an obvious novel but chickened out of the obvious ending simply because she never wanted for it to be obvious. Well it wasn't deep and serious, it was pleasingly sentimental and obvious--a genuine chick-book--but she cheated the reader and the novel out of a rightful ending. AUGH!

    So, I take it all back. :)

    Thanks for listening. I'm off to start reading something else RIGHT NOW before I go to sleep so I can let go of my irrational levels of disappointment and frustration.

    Have a good evening!

  8. Amy...I think there are books that are great examples of literature, writing or historical content...or there are books with great premises but for some reason it just doesn't jive with our own reading preferences (Conceit by Mary Novik was such a book for me - I threw it across the room - and it won an award). Such is life! Good thing there are so many more books out there to discover.

  9. i think its a great book, true it has a really confusing slow part in the middle of the book but you still get the story if you skip it, the part is where Celestine's memory's take you back to the time where she knew Gabrielle (Evangeline's grandmother). the book does have heart and much of it there is a sequel and it helps to better explain the heart of the story at the end.