An epic about an ancient clash reignited in our time–between a hidden society and heaven’s darkest creatures
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.
I had high hopes for this book. At first the historical mystery and research into the question of whether angels exists gripped me. The major characters had interesting back stories and enough depth to keep me interested in them. Then some ridiculous premises in the plot started to creep in, such as a secret group of angel watchers operating not so secretly, easy prey to angels who can decide to kill them off whenever the fancy strikes them. And then there are the angels themselves.
In the pages of archives they are wondrous, perilous and magnificent. Strong but weak, wanting love, needing to be a part of the world even if they had to turn their backs on heaven. But in chapters where we see them, so to speak, in the flesh, experience the way they truly think, speak and act, their glamour quickly falls away, revealing only shallow, petty souls. Not so magnificent after all.
My verdict: Angelology is a schizophrenic mix of Gossip Girl and The Historian. If only the book just stuck to one, preferably the latter, we would have a gem of a novel instead of a book with an identity crisis.
I’m sorry. I was just so disappointed in the angels that it colored my entire reading experience. I wanted them to be grand and gloriously terrible, inscrutable if necessary, but always terrifying–not the petty beings I encountered on the pages. On a story of this scale, spanning Creation and modern times, they should have evolved or devolved into something more or less than human.