Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni
1 May, 2013
But in the spring of 1959, fifty-seven years after it was laid, the egg cracked apart. A child lay in the catastrophe of shells, a golden-skinned boy with eyes that burned red and wings that wrapped around his shoulders. …
He seemed to me to embody the ancient descriptions of the heavenly host, the passages that one finds in biblical literature, with skin like pounded gold, hair of silk, eyes of fire.
And so Danielle Trussoni’s Angelolopolis continues the dazzling tale she began in Angelology, binding together mythical folklore, history and philosophy to create a modern day twist to the ever-fascinating subject of angels. What she does here is something I hadn’t really come across before.
It’s been 10 years since the angelologist Verlaine last came in contact with Evangeline, the mysterious woman who has the blood of angelologists and the Nephil running through her veins. There is perpetual war between the the Nephilim, the human-angel hybrids, who have infiltrated the highest echelons of society through their breeding and wealth, and the angelologists who try and contain them. When Evangeline is captured by a vicious and mercenary angel named Eno who works for the ancient Grigori family, Verlaine sets out to rescue her and uncover the secret behind Evangeline’s lineage and stop the Grigori’s from accruing any more power. And what is the fascination behind Fabergé’s eggs so beloved of the Romanovs?
Whilst Angelopolis is filled with some delicious nuggets of twisted Baltic history, especially the Russian Imperial House, intertwined with biblical stories going back to the Flood and studded with philosophical asides from Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, which Trussoni has remodeled into a prison for angels in Siberia, to Rasputin’s mystical teachings, there were a few flaws in Trussoni’s second book.
Although the historical titbits were fascinating, sometimes they felt like infodumps, miniscule lectures slotted in between the action, more tell rather than show. As a lover of history, I didn’t mind but I can see other readers getting a little cross-eyed with all the information. Saying that, I really enjoyed the book and raced through it, wanting to know the fate that awaited Evangeline and Verlaine. However, some of the action scenes seemed a little contrived, the ferocious angels ultimately a little too weak and the ending felt rushed. And I wasn’t thrilled about the brand name dropping which seemed to jar a little with the religio-mythicism of the angels.
These are small quibbles to what I think is a fascinating take on angel lore and I’m more than impressed by how Trussoni weaves all the different strands, historical, mythical and scientific, into something coherent and, dare I say, almost believable. Comparisons with Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy may seem inevitable but they are two vastly different stories with Trussoni’s focus being more on the academic dissemination of angel lore and the scientific analysis and methodology in how to capture them. I loved it. And I can’t wait for the next installation!
I would like to thank Viking for kindly sending me a copy to review. Do click through to check out the Book Club Kit which includes a wonderful Q&A with Danielle Trussoni. Enjoy!