When I first read the March 15, Time Magazine review of Danielle Trussoni’s, Angelology, ( http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1969720,00.html )I was struck by the killer premise: the heroic battle of an art historian and a young nun against the Nephilim, nasty, arrogant human-angel hybrids who have dominated world affairs for thousands of years.
When the reviewer compared it favorably to The DaVinci Code, I put it in my Amazon cart. Now I wish I had listened to the 100+ Amazon reviewers who gave the book 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. They were too generous.
The characters, Sister Evangeline and Verlaine are good enough as action adventure heroes go. Not every protagonist can be or must be unforgettable. We like them enough to want to see them prevail.
Where the story really breaks down is in the interminable backstory, that fills the entire middle section of the book. It slows the action to a full stop, and doesn’t really succeed in creating a suspension of belief.
There are several ways to draw readers into a fictional world that has fantasy elements. One is simply to spin things that exist in our world, as Brown does in The DaVinci Code. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and DaVinci’s “Last Supper,” are real, and we’re all too ready to believe in nefarious religious cults.
The other classic tactic is to simply drop us into an alternate universe, as Orson Welles did in the famous/infamous War of the Worlds broadcast – simply announce that aliens have landed in New Jersey.
Trussoni begins Angelology in this manner – with a flashback to the discovery of a Nephilim corpse during the “second angelological expedition” of 1943. We’re hooked, especially when Nephilim menace Verlaine and Sister Evangeline before we quite know why. All the elements of an exciting chase and forbidden romance are in place…and then the author manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The story just stops. If only an editor had reviewed the manuscript and suggested the simple, time tested device for action-adventure tales – sprinkle the backstory into the main action, but keep things moving. Do not bore your reader to distraction.
Did I say Trussoni failed? Well that may be an exageration – she has a movie contract and I don’t. But as a reader, I have to conclude that a writer has failed when I skim or skip huge sections of their book and in the end regret the time and money I have invested in their story. The following Amazon review by “MWA” sums up my reaction:
This Author may have had an interesting idea but the publisher’s rush to print to catch the wave of Vampire/Mythological/Faux Religious related sales certainly squashed it. The fact that the book is so poorly written is the fault of the people who are supposed to EDIT things prior to publication. This is actually painful to read up until about page 88 and then it is as if the absent editor came back from lunch and skimmed the rest. The worst thing about it is how obviously it is a set-up for another to follow! And a movie deal etc. etc. Enough is enough already.