Angelology, by Danielle Trussoni. Viking, 2010. 452 pp. 978-0-670-02147-5.
...in which a secret society battles against a group of fallen angels.
I think you'd have to be pretty much blind to have not seen this book if you've been to a bookstore anytime this year. It's been getting a lot of (mostly positive) press, and Borders, at least, has been keeping it displayed in prominent parts of the store.
The plot of the book is a little reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code, or other similar works. A group of scholars, the angelologists, have been fighting a secret war against the Nephilim. This war has been going on for thousands of years. The Nephilim, hybrids between fallen angels and humans, are beautiful, tall creatures with large, retractable wings. They have been behind many of the great dynasties, empires, corporations, etc in human history, while the angelologists have been endeavoring to stop them. The story is set in two time periods: Christmas, 1999, and WWII during the Nazi occupation of France. The modern half of the story revolves around a young nun named Evangeline, the daughter of two prominent angelologists. Unaware of her family's past, she is drawn into the world of angelology when both the angelologists and the Nephilim come to her convent, searching for an ancient artifact of unimaginable power, a lyre. The WWII plot line is set mostly in France, and follows two teenage girls who are students at a school of angelology. As the Nazis close in on Paris, the angelologists plan a dangerous mission to find the powerful lyre.
This book should appeal to people who wanted to like The Da Vinci Code, but perhaps had higher standards in writing quality. When I tried to read The Da Vinci Code, I was interested in the plot but couldn't get past the fact that Dan Brown's writing sounds like something a junior high schooler could have written. Trussoni's writing is much better, and she gives her story an appropriately grand feel, particularly in the historical documents that appear in the novel. A book about humans hunting angels could easily seem silly and ridiculous, but Trussoni gives it a feeling of historical significance and gravity.
My main complaint is that this book should have been longer. I don't mean that I wanted to see more things happening; I wanted more description, characterization, and explanations of the setting. With a couple of exceptions, I know basically nothing about the main characters. One character, an art historian by the name of Verlaine, plays an extremely important role in the book, but we know little about his personality, how he thinks, what his past is like. Also, it isn't clear how one really gets into the field of angelology, if the whole family isn't already a part of it. This novel could have easily been 100 pages longer, without adding unnecessary bulk or irrelevant side plots.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy conspiracy thrillers with a hint of religious intrigue. I hope that the sequel, whenever it will appear, will answer a lot of the holes left in the first book.