Think of this novel as a mash-up of Three Days of the Condor and “Meerkat Manor” except that these meerkats have wings, enormous wealth and resources, really mean friends, and the ability and inclination to kill you with a touch. It is part natural history, accepting first that angel/human hybrids called Nephilim walk among us, and part espionage in the best spy/counterspy-infiltration-secret weapon tradition. It spans the length of human history, melding beautifully the stories of creation and the Great Flood with basic Mendelian genetics, to create the history of the Nephilim. As children of the forbidden union between angels and humans, the Nephilim exhibit a kind of hybrid vigor; more beautiful and much taller than humans (they were the Giants in mythology), they seem to arrive complete with a built-in aloofness toward and contempt for mankind. In order to oppose their threat, the Angelological Society was created by a select group of academics and theologians dedicated not only to understanding angels and angelic society but, more importantly, to obliterating the Nephilim from the earth before they do the same to mankind.
Angelologists take courses in Interpretations of Creation, Angelic Physiology, the Art of Angelic Summoning, and Ethereal Musicology, among others. Their primary weapon is knowledge and their greatest advantage obtained when a stunningly beautiful angelologist, Gabriella Levi-Franche, manages to grow close to the only son, Percival Grigori III, of one of the most influential Nephilistic families. However, while the intelligence she gathers is invaluable, the repercussions of that assignment will eventually force a race to find what is hoped by the Society to be the Nephilistic version of an Achilles’ Heel and by the Nephilim to be the means to restore their former glory.
An immense white hand, its fingers spread apart like the points of a starfish, had pressed against the window….But upon looking more closely, he saw something that chilled his blood: Two immense creatures hovered outside the train, their great red eyes staring at him with menace, their large wings carrying them along in tandem with the car.
Of course, you’re curious as to how the angels manage their wings when they interact with humanity. The solution is anatomically and supernaturally elegant but I will leave the joy of discovery to you. Ms. Trussoni succeeds in creating a very plausible niche for Nephilim in modern society. From the lofty heights of New York penthouses, they generate the wealth and propagate the illusions that shield them from discovery. We could all probably think of a few candidates for membership in their ranks. So here’s the take-home lesson: If that incredibly scrumptious man (or woman) you just met turns out to look the same as he did in pictures from 50 years ago, has unusual strength, lovely golden curls, and a Jaguar or two in the garage, RUN. If you happen to get close enough to discover there’s a lovely pair of diaphanous wings under the Tom Ford jacket, you’re already dead.
An interview with Danielle Trussoni by John Barber in The Globe and Mail has biographical information as well as background for the genesis of this book.