Anne Rice’s latest hero, Toby O’Dare, is on his second assignment working for the angel Malchiah, in her current Songs of the Seraphim series production, Of Love and Evil. I was excited about the continuing story of O’Dare, but after reading the book, I don’t think I was completely satisfied with the finished product. I expected more depth and more emotional involvement as a reader, but the book did not engage me as I had hoped.
O’Dare travels to Rome during time of the loss of power of the Medici in Florence (Savonarola) and during Jewish persecution in Rome. He is sent to discover what is causing a dybbuk (spirit) to continue to haunt a house and a particular family. I think I am dissatisfied with this particular novel set in this particular time period because I am comparing it to the works of Sarah Dunant, especially The Birth of Venus, and there is just no comparison. Of course, Ms. Rice did research on the time period and even a particular event in Rome, but the scholarly results are just not woven as magically and as deeply as with Ms. Dunant’s efforts. Not that much time seems to have passed between the first book in the angel series, Angel Time, and this one, and perhaps not enough time was given for the next deadline, but I am a little disappointed in this effort. I still have not read any of Ms. Rice’s vampire books, just her angel-themed ones and her Christ-themed ones after her return to Catholicism a few years ago.
A little before Of Love and Evil was published, Ms. Rice’s subsequent leaving of Christianity and organized religion was in the news. If you follow her on Facebook, you know how interactive she is with her followers and how she posts current events and asks provocative questions about a number of issues. I really enjoy the discourse she encourages. Her postings are usually either informative or controversial and I appreciate her accessibility to the “people of the page.” This regular discourse and dialect might be another reason I am somewhat disappointed in Of Love and Evil. I just did not care about the characters in Rome that she introduced. The threads of this tale just were not interwoven to the extent to get me emotionally involved. I did enjoy the continued story of Toby and his personal redemption from assassin to angel assistant, but his story is only one aspect of this short novel. Ms. Rice does create another dilemma in O’Dare’s continuing drama, and I will read the next one.
I will recommend this book as a quick and easy read, but did not enjoy this effort as much as I had hoped or as much as the four previous books of Ms. Rice’s that I have read.