A Heavenly Battle

Angelology is one of the latest entries in the recent spate of religious adventure fiction made most popular by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels and DemonsDanielle Trussoni‘s novel will unfortunately most likely not get the attention of its, in many ways, inferior predecessors, but it is one captivating summer read that blends religious and mythological studies with a healthy dose of imagination.

Angelology tells the story of Evangeline, a young nun at St. Rose Convent in New York state, who is thrust into a series of events that stretch back to the beginning of time.  Though much of the main events in the narrative only takes place over a couple of days, Evangeline is destined to play a role in events that could determine the future existence of the cosmos.  Evangeline comes from a long line of angelologists, though, until now, in her mid 20s, she had very little knowledge of the field.  That is until she encounters V.A. Verlaine, a graduate art history student doing research for a wealthy New Yorker.  When he visits her convent’s library, she learns of his interests which quickly become her own.

As Evangeline delves into Verlaine’s research, she learns more about her convent and one of her sister nuns than she could have ever imagined.  Sister Celestine is at the heart of the events surrounding St. Rose Convent and of which Verlaine’s boss, Percival Grigori and the rest of his bizarre family, are behind as well.  Grigori is a nephilim, a descendant of the “angel/human relations” described in Genesis 6.  They have been warring for centuries with angelologists in search of a mystical instrument that has cosmic powers, not the least of which is the ability to heal inexplicably weakened and aged nephilim, of which Grigori is the most prominent.  A great portion of Trussoni’s narrative centers around Sister Celestine’s training in the angelological society and her relationship with Gabriella Levi-Franche, a significant person in Evangeline’s life as well.  The rest involves the modern day quest to find the mystical instrument on the part of the Grigori family and a band of contemporary angelologists.

Unlike The DaVinci code, there’s little in the way here of potentially deeply offensive theological content.  In fact, for all the attention paid to heavenly hosts and their illegitimate offspring, there’s very little, if any, talk of God in the book aside from “his” role in banishing offending angels from heaven.  Far more interesting are the characters who make up the angelological society, particularly Sister Celestine and Gabriella, two incredibly human characters with much skill in the study of the supernatural.  The portions of the text that tell their story are quite engrossing.  On the other hand, the bookends of modern-day action are more of the slightly suspenseful, race-the-clock puzzle-solving fare typical of this growing genre.  Toward the end, I half expected Robert Langdon to show up and help solve some of the riddles.

If you’re a fan of the genre, Angelology will certainly whet your appetite.  It’s also wide-open for a sequel.  Sony has the film rights, and it looks like Marc Forester is scheduled to direct a 2012 release, although I think the references to National Treasure are unfortunate and unnecessary!

If you’re interested, you can purchase your copy through the new Pop Theology Shop, and we’ll receive a small kickback.