"Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim"
By Anne Rice
Copyright 2009 Knopf Publishing
Publication Date: October 29th, 2009

    Angel Time is the first novel in a new series of books entitled “Songs of the Seraphim” and written by international bestselling author Anne Rice. Best known for her Vampire Chronicles and Lives of the Mayfair Witches novels, Rice has taken a new direction in her writing.
    In 1998, Rice - who had left behind religion many years before and become an atheist - returned to the Catholic Church. And in 2002, she consecrated her writing entirely to Christ, vowing to write for Him or about Him.
     This abrupt change left many fans scratching their heads in complete shock - and left some feeling abandoned, and others, angered.  
   So following two books specifically about Christ - Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt in 2005 and The Road to Cana in 2008 - plus the memoir, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, Rice introduces us to Toby O'Dare: a hit man whose boss is "The Right Man."   Born in New Orleans to a corrupt cop father and an alcoholic mother, Toby dreamed of becoming a priest, a scholar, a saint.  
     Highly intelligent and musically gifted, Toby believed he could make a better life for his family, and calm the demons that haunted his mother. Educated at Jesuit High School and earning a full music scholarship to The Conservatory, he had also fallen in love with Liona, a Jewish girl from a nearby school.  Well on his way to making his dreams come true, his world comes crashing down when he discovers a gruesome and bloody scene that changes his life forever.
     Leaving New Orleans in secrecy for New York, Toby begins a new life for himself - and finds a father figure in a kindly restaurant owner, Alonso, who gives him a job and a place to live. When Alonso and his family are threatened, something snaps in Toby - beginning his life as a hit man known only as "Lucky the Fox."   Faithless and empty inside, he kills without question or pity.
     One night, after a swift kill, Toby is approached by a Seraph and is offered the chance to make amends for the evil he unleashed upon the Earth since leaving New Orleans.  Mythical, magical and holy, Toby's Seraph - who calls himself "Malchiah" - tells Toby that a battle is ensuing for his soul.
    Warning him that other forces are at work, Malchiah convinces Toby to accept the mission and takes him to 13th century England.  Toby discovers he must protect a family threatened by a group of superstitious and ignorant people, full of bigotry and greed. The lives of many hang in the balance and Toby must make the ultimate choice: does he stay and help the
innocent, or does he leave them to their own devices?
    Well-crafted and carefully researched, Angel Time is destined to become another Anne Rice classic.  Captivating and enthralling, Angel Time proves that despite the genre, Rice's work belongs on the shelves of every reader.  
    Much like the novels that catapulted Rice into stardom, Angel Time has many of the same elements as her early works.  Only this time - instead of blood drinkers, mummies, ghosts and spell casters - we have angels and saviors.  
    Like many of her previous novels, the reader must have a willing suspension of disbelief in order to fully enjoy the novel - and be open to the idea that all things are possible, whether it's the walking dead or a heavenly creature.  And as with her previous novels, readers will happily take that journey with her.  So fear not, reluctant readers - Anne Rice has done it again.

Nick Manix is a professional writer and journalist who splits his time between Central Texas and New Orleans.

(Cover image and Anne Rice photo courtesy Random House Publishing)