“…angels existed on hearth as well as in heaven…”
The Bible refers to them as “Sons of God” (Genesis 6:1-4): in terms as controversial as cryptic, we are told that at some point during the antediluvian era, God’s heavenly creatures “saw” the daughters of men, took them as wives in an act of rebellion to the Maker, and gave origin to the Nephilim, a hybrid offspring of humans and fallen angels. Whether a symbolism of the union between dynastic rulers and commoner women (fallen angels and mortal women, if you prefer), or a cautionary tale warning us about the sinful nature of a marriage between earthly and divine, the study of angels represents not only one of the major theological doctrines, but also a fascinating speculation on the ultimate destiny of mankind. The Scriptures are scattered with a trail of obscure clues and encrypted revelations about the existence of a higher order of beings between God and man, and if angelology has been questioned and disregarded over the centuries for lack of explicit descriptions, the abundance of references in the Apocrypha (scriptures not included in the canonical Bible) still sparks the interest and the imagination of intellectuals and writers.
In this vein, Angelopolis (second installment in the New York Times best selling and sensational series Angelology by Danielle Trussoni) bridges biblical lore and apocryphal documents, Greek mythology and Christian eschatology, merging in the process elements of intellectual thriller and science fiction. The result is a stunning breed of urban fantasy, as rich in cultural references as an historical archive.
In Trussoni’s fantasy, the modern day Nephilim are ruthless and ambitious beings, more connected to the material world than creatures from Heaven should be. Ready to step out of their shadow existence, they aim to destroy the human kind and create their own Paradise (Angelopolis) on earth. Unimaginable wealth and power beyond belief are within their reach: not only do they represent the ‘aristocracy’ of the angelic hierarchy, they also hold high rank positions within financial and political circuits of the human society. They always did. Some of the most powerful men and women in history since The Flood, throughout some of our most eventful eras (Elizabethan and Victorian England, The Romanov Empire, World Wars), were actually angels in human disguise. The war between humans and Nephilim has roots as deep as the history of mankind itself, and it’s now being conducted on a genetic ground by a secret society of angelologists who won’t hesitate to use weapons and headhunters to capture the rebel angels and subdue them. When young nun Evangeline and art historian Verlaine were brought together (Angelology #1) by their common interest in angel iconography, little they knew they would become the most important players of a century-old conflict. Verlaine, in fact, has the ability to see and hunt angels; Evangeline, daughter of hunters herself, is an angelic creature of superior lineage, sought after by angelologists and Nephilim for the extraordinary quality of her blood cells. The beautiful nun and the angel hunter should be fighting on opposite sides, but a visceral attraction and mutual affection will lead them to gravitate toward one another even in the midst of the conflict.
I was utterly captivated by the beauty, complexity and rich texture of this paranormal novel. The evocative and descriptive quality of Trussoni’s prose is mesmerizing and gains momentum especially in the most action-driven second half of the book. Reading the prequel (Angelology was published in 2010) before approaching this latest release is not absolutely imperative in order to enjoy world setup and character building: the author managed to pull the plot threads of the previous installment in a new narrative whole, filling the gaps and holes typical of highly imaginative paranormal sagas. However, a final resolution to the conflict between angelologist secret society and Nephilim will still elude us at the end of the novel, preparing the ground for an apocalyptic scenario of doom, war, and antagonism between Verlaine and Evangeline.
Spanning from the districts of Paris to the Siberian tundra, through the imperial palaces of St. Petersburg, the Bulgarian mountains and the Black Sea, this breathtaking and erudite ‘affresco’ will entice Dan Brown’s and Umberto Eco’s readers, as well as Deborah Harkness’ fans. I enjoyed it enormously.
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Viking Adult
Author: Danielle Trussoni