Title: Angel Time
Author: Anne Rice
Series: The Songs of the Seraphim, #1
I'd managed never to read an Anne Rice novel before Angel Time. Now, I wish I'd kept up that streak. Angel Time graces us with completely black and white morality, poor storytelling, and an eye-rolling plot. I was anything but impressed.
Spoilers towards the end of the review, but I saw them coming from a mile away... so they may not even be spoilery.
Let me tell you all about how the protagonistis a really, really good person. No, you don't understand. He's so good. The only reason he's a contract killer is because his life was so hard. But he's a good person! Now let's help him find God again.
That's the plot of Angel Time.
See, we know how good he is because after we spend a few chapters on how he's a contract killer and an angel comes to save him, the angel tells us (in a single chapter that takes up a quarter of the book) his entire history. Because that's good storytelling. Trigger warnings in this section include, but are not limited to: suicide, alcoholism, abuse, and violence. We also know that he's really, really truly good because an angel said so.
There's a lot that could be done here, with shades of morality. I mean, we have a contract killer trying to redeem himself in the eyes of god. But nope. Everyone who is good is good and everyone who is bad is awful. Even when they go time travelling to save Jews in the 13th Century.
Oh yes. See, the angel takes him time traveling in... Angel Time. That's what the angel literally calls it. Angel Time.
"From Natural time to Natural Time you'll go. But I exist in Angel Time and you'll travel with me through that as well."
Talk about the type of corny dialogue that can throw you right out of a book. Actually, all the dialogue is awful. Anne Rice seems to believe that Medieval Jews talk like Victorian translation of their writing. (Protip: people generally don't talk like they write, especially in times writing was highly formalized.) Even worse, Anne Rice thinks everyone, even in modern times, talks in a weirdly stilted, completely unnatural way.
So half the book is the setup.. contract killer. Time traveling angels. Then the other half of the book is him saving some Jews from being killed and riots starting because their daughter died of appendicitis. This isn't even a thinly veiled reference to the Jewish girl he was in love with when he was a kid... it's so completely obvious and it feels like over and over Anne Rice is trying to smack me in the face with it.
"I GET IT," I would say. And Anne Rice would try to be teasing again. "NO REALLY, IT'S QUITE OBVIOUS. I CAN READ BETWEEN THE LINES."
Well, apparently the protagonist can't because his angel buddy has to spell it out for him after it's all over and he's written his memoir. (Which is called... Angel Time. Who saw that coming???)
Oh, and we also find out that the protag has actually been doing contract killing for the government, so he was one of the good guys all along! Yayyyyy! Now that he's found God (and dear God, I swear half of this book is him talking about God or talking to God or whining about not having a relationship with God anymore...) and he knows that he was killing people as a good guy, it's all good! Good, good, good, good. No need to think about complicated morality here.