Angel Time: A Novel

Anne Rice
  • Review
By – September 9, 2011

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.

Penin­nah Schram, well-known sto­ry­teller & author, is Pro­fes­sor of Speech and Dra­ma at Yeshi­va Uni­ver­si­ty’s Stern Col­lege. Her lat­est book is an illus­trat­ed anthol­o­gy, The Hun­gry Clothes and Oth­er Jew­ish Folk­tales (Ster­ling Pub­lish­ing) and a CD, The Min­strel & the Sto­ry­teller, with singer/​guitarist Ger­ard Edery (Sefarad Records). She is a recip­i­ent of a Covenant Award for Out­stand­ing Jew­ish Edu­ca­tor and the 2003 Nation­al Sto­ry­telling Net­work’s Life­time Achieve­ment Award.

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