Because of my unpredictable schedule, I haven’t been able to read as much as I wanted to lately. Truth to tell, there haven’t been that many reading materials that could tempt me to go beyond a cursory run-through. So, I did the next best thing. I began re-reading some of my favorite books. This time, I decided to re-read Angelology (by Danielle Trussoni).
I remember getting excited after reading a favorable review of this novel in TIME (reviewed by Lev Grossman). Curious, I compared it with other reviews I could find at the time and checked the author’s bio (Angelology is Ms. Trussoni’s first work of fiction) for good measure. At the end of three reviews, my gut instinct kicked in. I knew I had to read this book. (I had this type of reaction several times in the past, and this instinct hasn’t failed me yet.)
It took me a while to secure an unsold copy, but I remember feeling relieved after picking up the book (I had to place an order by phone so they could hold the last remaining unsold copy for me).
I started reading Angelology on my way home and didn’t stop reading until 5:45am. Despite the book’s minor drawbacks, the tale simply held me enthralled. I guess the reason why this story resonated with me is that it reminded me of one of my favorite X-files episodes (“All Souls”), which dealt with the concept of nephilim (lit. “fallen ones”).
Angelology has been described as a supernatural thriller in the tradition of Dan Brown, although I think it’s more in the style of Umberto Eco‘s The Name of the Rose (and, in my opinion, Ms. Trussoni is a better writer compared to D. Brown). Think of a gripping, multilayered gothic tale with biblical roots and tinged with intrigues and conspiracies. At its core, it tells of a centuries-old struggle between the nephilim, the hybrid offspring of rebellious angels and human women, and a secret society of humans who have studied and resolutely opposed the nephilim (angelologists) and their machinations.
If you have an abiding interest in angels (and not just the good kind) and don’t mind reading a lengthy discourse on art, history, Greek mythology, various biblical texts, etc., Angelology shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. if you’re a Catholic, it will probably be easier to digest this premise (although Ms. Trussoni also makes liberal references to Jewish and Muslim religious texts to substantiate her point). At any rate, you will learn a lot of things about how humans have viewed angels throughout the past centuries.
There are certain parts of this book that I found particularly intriguing. Because Ms. Trussoni doesn’t overwhelm you with overwrought (and repetitive) prose — this actually allows your imagination to go into overdrive, leaving you with just enough space to interpret her descriptions in several ways. Naturally, if you already have preconceived notions (e.g., appearance of angelic beings), your mind is given free rein to embellish these scenes according to those beliefs.
For some reason, I keep going back to the scene where, during a pivotal event, several nuns conducted a “summoning” ceremony — so much so that I actually asked my high school religion teacher (Sr. Jean) if she had ever taken part in anything similar or knew anything about it (it turns out their Order has instituted no such practice). At any rate, I eventually offered to lend her the book (and she said she liked it because she could actually relate to the heroine).
By the way, the second book of this trilogy (Angelopolis; lit. “City of Angels”) has already been released, and the third installment is expected to hit the market in the next few years. Here’s another interesting fact. The film rights to this book have already been purchased by Sony, so it’s probably not too much of a stretch to expect a movie based on Angelology in a few years’ time.