Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
In Rice's latest, an assassin meets an angel who puts him to work for God. Although "Lucky the Fox" has always justified his contract killing by letting himself believe he was really working for the proverbial "good guys," the seraph takes Lucky back to the 1200s and gives him the task of preventing a pogrom against Jews accused of ritually murdering Christian children. Readers of Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" and "Mayfair Witch" sagas develop a deep connection with protagonists Lestat and Rowan Mayfair, but it is hard to relate to Lucky. However, the novel is more fluid and action-oriented than Rice's recent trilogy about Jesus. At the heart of this odd mix of metaphysical thriller and historical novel is one man's rediscovery of his religious beliefs. Verdict While smoothly written and full of Rice's noted descriptive detail, this title may disappoint fans of her wildly popular series about vampires and witches, while Christian readers who know Rice only as a paranormal writer will probably avoid it unless they have read her Jesus novels. Finding the proper audience may prove to be the hardest battle for this intriguing book. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/09; with a 250,000-copy first printing.]-Amanda Scott, Cambridge Springs P.L., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Full of provocative moral reflections, this kickoff to bestseller Rice's new Songs of the Seraphim religious romance series centers on hired assassin Toby O'Dare, a one-time aspirant to the priesthood until personal tragedy unmoored his life. Guardian angel Malchiah visits Toby, who's just consummated his latest kill, and offers him redemption for his sins. After accepting the offer, Toby is whisked away to 13th-century England, where, in the guise of a Dominican friar, he becomes the protector of a Jewish couple accused wrongly by the gentile populace of having murdered their young daughter for her conversion to Christianity. Two eloquently told if clunkily joined digressions give the backstory on Toby and on the persecution of the Jews in medieval Europe. Readers will revel in Rice's colorful recreation of the historical past and in her moving depiction of characters struggling to reconcile matters of the heart with their personal sense of faith. 250,000 first printing. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
*Starred Review* Although Rice's latest is a departure from her recent books chronicling the life of Christ, she hasn't returned to the vampires and witches that made her famous. Instead, Rice offers a hybrid: a thrilling redemption story that incorporates religion. Toby O'Dare is a skilled assassin who knows little about his handler, and even less about his targets. Haunted by the death of his family, Toby is emotionally numb until an assignment takes him to his haven: the Mission Inn in Riverside, California. After he completes the job, he is visited by an angel named Malchiah, who lays bare the terrible tragedy of Toby's past and implores him to take on an errand of mercy. Toby finally agrees and finds himself in thirteenth-century Norwich, where a Jewish couple, Meir and Fluria, stand accused of murdering their 13-year-old daughter, Lea. Disguised as a Dominican friar, Toby intercedes to discover what really happened to Lea and to find a way to save the couple, and the Jews of Norwich, from the angry townspeople. Readers looking either for a convincing story of faith rediscovered or simply an exciting read will be pleased by Rice's compelling tale, and many will hope for more books featuring her fascinating and utterly sympathetic new hero.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2009 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Time travel, ultraviolence and medieval madnessdivine intervention rendered fantastically by Rice (Called Out of Darkness, 2008, etc.). A "man paralyzed by dissonance," Toby O'Dare is also a helluva hit man; he plays lute, reads Aquinas and shoves poisoned syringes in the necks of his tricks. A Beverly Hills penthouse serves as his crash pad, but he's otherwise nomadic, dodging Interpol for his faceless boss, the Right Man. RM insists that "the Good Guys" bankroll Toby's missions, but O'Dare thinks murder is murder and gluts on guilt. With two marvelous reimaginings of the Gospels and a spiritual autobiography recently extending her range, Rice revisits the shadows of her vampire classics; now, however, with her return to Catholicism, her sinners vie for redemption. O'Dare's desperate for it. His childhood dream of becoming a Dominican was dashed by trauma downright demonic; he rebelled against God when his drunken mother drowned his siblings and killed herself. His apostasy is of the tortuous, Graham Greene-ish variety; he can't stop praying to the God he left. Deliverance comes as a mysterious stranger. Right after dispatching a billionaire banker at a pricey hotel, Toby freaks at an interloper: Malchiah, it turns out, a seraph disguised as a swell. The angel's charge? Beam Toby back to 13th-century England, amok with anti-Semitic persecution. "Natural Time" becomes "Angel Time," and in this transcendental zone O'Dare is transformed into a Dominican friar bidden by Malchiah to save his soul through expiation. He must use all his cunning to rescue Meir and Fluria from a mob convinced that this harmless Jewish couple have poisoned their daughter for daring enter a cathedral on Christmas night. Having become an Agent of Good, O'Dare, proving that God works in mysterious ways, descends into a world of faith perverted in order both to restore order and reclaim his own lost innocence. Emerging repentant "for every evil thing I'd ever done," he returns transfigured to the present time. Angelically inspiring. Devilishly clever. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.