Song of the Seraphim

Angel Time; 2009 by Anne O’Brien Rice; Alfred A. Knopf; New York, NY

I’ve been a fan of  Anne Rice since her break away 1976 novel “Interview with a Vampire“.  For me she was the pioneer of romance – gothic fiction; combing the horror of the living dead with the romanticism of  history. Reading one of her novels is like taking a guided stroll through time: from the antiquities of ancient Egypt, to the reasoning of Rome;  up the dark towers of Middle Age Europe ,  down the sleepy bayous of the South and  up the heights of Ashbury Park into good old fashion rock and roll.

I won’t say I like everything she’s written, such as her Mayfair Witch series  or those under her pseudonyms of Anne Rampling, or A. N. Roquelaure. The witch series (except for Merrick) gave me the quillies and her erotica…well it’s the prude thing (just can’t see mudding up my mind with images I’d rather not have).  But regardless of the personal issues  I have with some of her work,  it’s always about content, not style or talent (though my disappointment with “The Wolf Gift” had more to do with her main character rather than either content or style)

Toby does have to accept that God can forgive any sin, and I think most people have trouble accepting or believing this, too, especially people fighting very bad habits of what they consider to be sin. It can be hard to believe one is worthy of God’s forgiveness. But all things are possible with God, and anyone and everyone who repents can be forgiven. – Anne Rice

Anne Rice has a cadence to her writing that is uniquely hers  and shows up in everything I’ve  read. I’m not sure if it’s because most of her work is written in the first

person (and therefore she’s able to capture the readers ear in a way other POV’s can’t) or that the verse and rhythm of her prose  has given her characters the ability to bring to life a piece of art or the warmth of a sunset;  the way light and shadow fall across the translucent flesh of the un-dead,  or the passion  of someone who will never see the sun rise again. Whatever it is, taking a journey with one of Rice’s characters is never boring or lacking in vibrant creativity.

Two books I just finished were   “Angel Time“(October 2009), and Of Love and Evil (November 30, 2010): Anne’s newest “Songs of the Seraphim” series. Both stories are told around  a disheartened assassin  named Toby O’Dare, who has been enlisted by the seraphim Malchial to earn his redemption by traveling through angel time; using his skills as an investigative killer to save the lives of the faithful.

Now a story about angels and assassins, in and of themselves,  probably wouldn’t have floated my boat if it hadn’t been for Anne’s ability to use her talent for story telling  as a way of exploring mankind’s need  to know, and be known, by Someone beyond themselves.   I particularly appreciate her sensitivity towards  man’s passion to understand what it is that drives him toward Divinity;  her capacity to go far beyond the obvious religious claptrap of so much of today’s landscape  and see the Holy as both personal as well as vulnerable.

And of course there is always the pleasure one derives from reading a story in which every character, every theme, and every plot-line feels as though it’s been painted rather than written. To spend an evening reading an Anne Rice novel is to  smell the musky  scent  of magnolias on a warm New Orleans night,  fly through the heavens pressed against the chest of marble like flesh,  or feel the splash  of water against your pant leg as a taxi’s  tires slap down onto pock marked asphalt.

On a scale of one to five, I’m giving “Songs of the Seraphim” a four.