Book Review: Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim

Anne Rice
Knopf, 2009
288 pages
hard cover


I've loved Anne Rice's work for a long time, ever since I checked Interview with the Vampire out from my high school library. And not just her vampire books, though there are more of them than others: I enjoyed The Witching Hour and Servant of the Bones and Feast of All Saints, too.

I did try to read Rice's Christ the Lord books, but I couldn't get into them. It's not a religious thing; I grew up religious enough and have no particular disdain for religion or spirituality or any of that sort of thing. A lot of people do, and then a lot of people don't think about it one way or another, but I do. Which isn't the point, of course. The point is: I have no bias for OR against such stories and works.

Still and all, I couldn't immerse myself in Rice's Christ the Lord books. But angels! I love angels, too, and was hoping for something really great in the kick-off novel of Rice's planned new series.

Alas, I fear my expectations were set too high.

Angel Time isn't terrible. It just isn't as good as some of Rice's other work. Something about it suggests she might have been in a hurry while writing it. And it's more like listening to Rice tell a story than having her characters do so.

What I mean is, all the characters in the book sound the same to me. I find little distinction in their voices. It seems to me that a hardened assassin should sound somewhat different from an angel, and that they should both sound different still from a Medieval Jewish woman. And yet . . . here, not so much.

The story itself is good enough. Pretty simple and straight-forward, which may be why the book is not especially long. But I still had some trouble digging in, as I found the characters more likely to tell me what to think and believe than show me through their actions or dialogue. For some characters, such bravado works (hello there, Lestat); for some situations it works (interview any vampires lately?). But here again . . . not so much.

Maybe Angel Time is just a weak start to something bigger and stronger? Maybe the main character--assassin Toby O'Dare--will develop into someone more interesting than the seemingly colorless person he starts out as. (On the flip side, assassins do need to blend as opposed to standing out . . . but Toby's lack of personality goes a bit too far in that the reader has a tough time caring much about him.) I'm hoping for a better outing next time.

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