Only a masterful storyteller could pull off this engaging metaphysical adventure novel, and Rice is certainly among the most prolific and skillful writers of our time. Author of nearly 30 novels (perhaps most famously Interview with the Vampire), Rice consistently serves up dazzling, elegant prose and thrilling plots. Dwelling on issues of faithfulness, altruism, and devotion, the novel is told predominantly from the first-person perspective of 28-year-old Toby O’Dare, a cruel and desperate hitman. Known to his mysterious boss as “Lucky the Fox,” Toby, a lapsed Catholic, soon finds himself traveling through time to 13th century England. Malchiah, an angel who has always watched out for Toby, gives him a chance to turn his life of crime around. Malchiah reminds Toby that he had once enjoyed a budding career as a talented musician, until tragic events dashed Toby’s hopes for going to a college conservatory, or for anything resembling a normal life.
Malchiah offers Toby a chance to atone for his crimes by moving to an alternate world, where Meir and Fluria, a Jewish couple, have been wrongfully accused of ritually killing their daughter. While the country approaches mass violence against the Jews, Rice expertly interweaves a portrait of Jewish life in medieval England with Toby’s attempts to help. The novel is particularly brilliant in the many chapters narrated by Fluria, who tells a timeless tale of romantic love against the backdrop of societal unrest. Both Fluria’s life story and Toby’s actions as he moves metaphysically through “angel time” have profound reverberations for Toby’s 21st century life, which stands in limbo while his saga unfolds. Throughout, Rice is wholly unafraid to illustrate life’s suffering, while also illuminating those moments when the human spirit triumphs over oppression, hatred, and despair.