[JURACAN walks into his apartment to find a MASKED MAN (MM) at his desk.]
Juracan: Who the hell are you?
MM: Who I am isn’t important. What is important is what I can do for you.
Juracan: I don’t follow.
MM: [opens laptop] According to your profile on ImpishIdea, you hope to one day rule the world?
Juracan: Well yeah, doesn’t everyone?
MM: Not really. But I can give you the knowledge you need to do it.
Juracan: Yeah, sure. Now could you please leave my apartment asshole? [pulls out Swiss Army knife and fumbles with it until blade finally comes out]
MM: [snaps fingers, and knife becomes broccoli]
Juracan: GAH GREEN VEGETABLES [throws aside] How’d you do that?
MM: Let’s just say I have my ways.
Juracan: Fine. But what you do want from me?
MM: All I need from you is… a sporking.
Juracan: Seriously, that’s it?
Juracan: I can do that.
Juracan: So what do you want me to spork exactly? Another Twilight clone, an awful fantasy novel, or something like that?
MM: Something like that, yes…
Juracan: …there’s something you’re not telling me, isn’t there?
MM: The book I want you to spork is not only bad, but it is boring, offensive, and mind-numbingly stupid.
Juracan: …I’m not sure why I should agree to this—
MM: Also I’ll make the Wi-Fi in this apartment not suck.
Juracan: Deal! Wait, what book?
MM: Toolateyoualreadyacceptedsosorry! [disappears with a thunderclap]
Juracan: Well it can’t be that ba—
Juracan: NOOOOOO [runs to door, finds it locked] DAMN YOU UNNAMED MASKED MAN!
Since I’m stuck here, I might as well get started.
Right, so as you know from my article on the previous book, I am not a huge fan of Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni. Whereas Angelology was an okay mystery and urban fantasy that mostly did not hold up due to not being all that well thought out, its sequel cranked up the stupid by not continuing the interesting plot threads and throwing all kinds of insane conspiracies at the reader. It’s a bad book, with a bad plot, unmemorable characters, and a setting that doesn’t make sense and sometimes contradicts the previous book.
I should warn you guys: at first, this book is just going to sound boring. But don’t worry, the Crazy Train will get going once we get into the real meat of this book, and you’ll really see what I’m talking about.
Let’s get started, shall we?
RECAP: You can find most of the important bits in my review here, but it basically goes like this: nephilim, the descendants of a group of angels called the Watchers who went rogue, secretly ruled the world and live among us. Our villains were the Grigori family, a nephilim family of great influence and blondness, mostly headed by Percival Grigori who had a mysterious illness. The society of angelologists studies angelic beings and hopes to find a way to free humanity from the control of the nephilim. Back in the day they found the cave where the Watchers were trapped. In the modern day of the late nineties, Evangeline the nun and Verlaine the… kind of boring guy… find out about the conspiracy and get wrapped up in it. We find out that Evangeline is descended from Percival Grigori on her mother’s side, and Verlaine becomes an angelologist, and Percival gets what’s coming to him. Also, there was some business with Saint Gabriel’s harp, but we’ve kind of forgotten about that for the plot of this book, so… yeah…
The book opens with a quote:
“And she began to speak to me—so gently and softly—with angelic voice.”
Well technically his full name is Dante Alighieri, and I don’t understand why no one ever bothers to use his last name, but… yes, that’s more or less a correct quote. It’s from the second Canto, in case you were wondering. It also doesn’t have much to do with the story, as far as I can tell—it’s from Vergil telling Alighieri how Beatrice appeared to him and sent him to the poet. There’s not really anything relating to the Divine Comedy relating to the plot or anything, it’s just… there because Trussoni likes it, I guess?
And now we get our prologue. Now in these books the chapters aren’t titled or numbered, we just get a short statement of where we are:
33 Champ de Mars, seventh arrondissement, Paris, 1983
That’s…. oddly specific…
I mean, I wrote a story recently that took place in Aberdeen, Scotland, and I traced the events of the story throughout different streets and such for myself, so I knew what was going on where. But I didn’t mark addresses in the actual story itself, because… you know, it’s fiction, and you don’t need all the details. But to each her or his own, I guess?
The scientist examined the girl, his fingers pressing into her skin. She felt his touch against her shoulder blades, the knobs of her spine, the flat of her back.
…this book makes me uncomfortable in the first line.
So this unnamed scientist is examining the unnamed girl with “deliberate, clinical” motions, “as if he expected to find something wrong with her.” Or, I’m guessing, he’s an angelologist examining her to see if she has any traits of an angelic being. Of course, if we got names or any indication of the girl’s age, we’d be more invested in this, but as it is we’re just getting a minor event that happened in the past and not any of its significance. We’re just being creeped out for no reason.
[HINT: It’s probably Evangeline, our main character from the last book.]
The girl’s mother had told her to do as the scientist asked, and so she endured the prodding in silence: When he twisted a tourniquet around her arm she did not resist; when he traced the sinuous path of her vein with the tip of a needle she held still…
First, that colon: its placement makes me uncomfortable. If you needed to start a new sentence, why don’t you just start a new sentence instead of using a colon?
Second: er… what kind of scientist is this guy that he’s tracing the “sinuous path of her vein with the tip of a needle”? I cut out of the sentence before he actually drew blood, but this is described in an awful lot of detail for something as simple as drawing blood. When you get a needle put in you, does your doctor trace your veins with it? If you said ‘yes’, I recommend switching doctors.
Now in case you missed from my review of the last book, when it comes to angels, Nephilim and other angelic beings, the angelologists isn’t usually hampered by little things such as morality, or ethics. So no, the idea that they’d hired a sketchy-ass scientist to perform a study on a little girl isn’t completely out of the question for these guys. It’s par for the course.
But I feel right now as if Trussoni’s trying too hard—I get it, the guy’s a creepy scientist. But that’s not really that frightening after a bit. This guy shows up later, and acts pretty much how’d you expect him too from this scene: a creep. There’s nothing interesting about this character. He’s just there to be creepy.
Imagine if the scene had been started like this: the scientist meets the girl and her mother before the examination, and acts like a completely normal and not sketchy human being until he begins studying her. There! Already, it’s more unsettling and shows a more complex character!
[sigh] Let’s move on then.
There’s something about how the girl “felt a presence watching over her, as if a spirit had descended to guard her” when she sees sunlight through the windows, but given that there’s no clarity as to whether that’s the case. I mean, this is a book with angelic beings in it, but they tend to not have any sort of metaphysical presence—they are essentially, people with wings and superpowers. So if an angel was in the room, you’d know.
Now the girl finds it comfortable to think of her mother while this creep is taking her blood, so she thinks of all the stories her mother told her.
Her mother liked to tell her stories of enchanted kingdoms and sleeping beauties and brave knights ready to fight for good; she spoke of gods who transformed into swans and beautiful boys who blossomed into flowers and women who grew into trees…
Hang on—“Leda and the swan?” That’s what you’re talking about, isn’t it? Look, I was into Greek mythology since a young age, but I didn’t hear that story until I was into my preteens because that’s not generally the kind of story people tell their kids. For those who don’t know: Zeus turns into a swan and seduces Leda. Most artistic portrayals tend to have a naked Leda embracing a swan (which is why I’m not including any of those images here).
There are Greek myths you can censor pretty well, but I’m not sure how you can tell the story of Leda and the Swan without at some point implying that a woman Did the Do with a bird.
There’s also the fact that now we’re getting the story filtered through the girl’s point of view. So was it always that way? Was this kid thinking of the “sinuous path of her vein” earlier on the page? Because that’s pretty poetic for some who is… I dunno, because you didn’t give us her age! But I assume she’s pretty young.
In every fairy tale, the princess woke and the swan transformed back into Zeus and the knight overcame evil. In a moment, with a wave of a wand or the casting of a spell, the nightmare ended and a new era began.
Except… thematically this has nothing to do with what’s going on. I guess that the angels having children with humans is reminiscent of the demigods of Greek mythology; but other than that, I don’t see the reason to bring any of this up. This isn’t a fairy tale type of story, or a mythological one; it’s a mystery conspiracy novel with heavy Old Testament overtones. If fairy tale or Greek mythology were the thematic feels you were going for Trussoni… it didn’t work.
And with that bit the prologue ends! It’s not particularly noteworthy, and is honestly kind of generic. Join me when we hop into the novel proper with our first chapter (which isn’t labeled) and the first part (which is?). We’ll talk more when we get there.