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54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasantly easy read, an equally pleasant sequel
This is the second book in the metaphysical thriller series "The Songs of the Seraphim". Anne Rice continues with the story of Toby O'Dare, who returns as the reformed contract killer set out to mend an injustice from the past. The book lays out the poetically tragic story of O'Dare's continuing journey of self-redemption, still in a constant battle of moral reflection...
Published on September 2, 2010 by A Conrad

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148 of 165 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars thin
I am a fan of Anne Rice's darker novels - the vampire series, the Mayfair witches series, and others; I have read 12 or more. In those books, she told stories within stories - often going back in time, sometimes very far back. Her books were characterized by dark passion, violence, horror, vivid and colorful descriptions, and an exploration of the thoughts and feelings...
Published on October 29, 2010 by Mark Colan


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148 of 165 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars thin, October 29, 2010
This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
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I am a fan of Anne Rice's darker novels - the vampire series, the Mayfair witches series, and others; I have read 12 or more. In those books, she told stories within stories - often going back in time, sometimes very far back. Her books were characterized by dark passion, violence, horror, vivid and colorful descriptions, and an exploration of the thoughts and feelings of her characters.

Most fans are aware of the major change to her novels a few years ago, as she took on Christian themes. Actually, she had been moving that way for some time, for example when Lestat met Memnoch the Devil.

I lost interest in her books after the change, but I had an opportunity to review this one through the Vine program, so I gave it a try.

Some things have not changed. She still has stories within stories, going back in time. There are supernatural creatures - but instead of preternatural creatures, we now have angels and a ghost. She still gets into a lot of descriptive detail for the places we visit. And we get plenty of insight into the main character, but the angels remain vague and inscrutable.

Toby, the main character, is a man who has gone through a transformation from darkness to light, giving up his evil ways in favor of dedicating himself in the service of God. His redemption has made him passionately happy - he frequently weeps with joy. Personally, I can't relate to the ecstasy thing, and a lot of tiresome words are spent on this subject.

The book is very short, especially from an author known for writing long books. My review edition had less than 170 loosely-filled pages and plenty of white space. A book does not have to be long to be good, but this one is thin in pages AND plot.

It is the second in the "Angel Time" series. Enough of the story from the first book is repeated so that it's easy to get involved. At the end a new character from Toby's past forms a bridge to the sequel, which I won't be reading.

Bottom line: I would give this book 2 1/2 stars if I could. I wanted to like it, and I read it with an open mind, but I am disappointed: I know that Anne Rice is capable of writing much better novels. Still, if Anne Rice is happier in her religious mode, I'm glad for her.

UPDATE: Google 'Today I Quit Being A Christian' for a related article about Anne Rice, about a posting she made on Facebook in July 2010. And check out "The Wolf Gift", to be released on February 14, 2012. "The Wolf Gift" does not appear to be a sequel to this book.

NOTE: I am an Amazon Vine reviewer. This book was provided to me free for my review. I am not paid. My opinions are not influenced by getting a free book, nor am I asked to write positive reviews: I call them as I see them.
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54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasantly easy read, an equally pleasant sequel, September 2, 2010
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This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
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This is the second book in the metaphysical thriller series "The Songs of the Seraphim". Anne Rice continues with the story of Toby O'Dare, who returns as the reformed contract killer set out to mend an injustice from the past. The book lays out the poetically tragic story of O'Dare's continuing journey of self-redemption, still in a constant battle of moral reflection and introspection. He hopes to escape his past by correcting the past. Through his eyes, we see a bit more of his history, and the realization that he cannot escape his past easily.

O'Dare travels back in time to Renaissance Rome, where he is given a mission of safeguarding Vitale, a distressed Jewish physician during a highly tumoltuous time, a time of anti-Semitism, rampant fears of demonic possessions, and the horrors of the Holy Inquisition. Vitale's house is possessed by a sirenic fallen angel called a "dybbuk" (an earthbound restless spirit, and maybe a new recurring character?). For a thin book, the story is riddled with twists and turns, plots and counterplots. The operatic plot is unraveled by O'Dare, as he sets forth on his mission to charm the troublesome spirit.

Poison and passion, forbidden love, crimes of the heart, and demonic possession... what else can you ask for?! Well, there's the next book, but let's be patient (an exercise of futility). This is an easy and enjoyable read. A pleasant surprise, because I enjoyed this book more than the first book (Angel Time). Highly recommended.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne Rice Fan, October 22, 2010
This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
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Anne Rice's Of Love and Evil, Songs of the Seraphim continues, the second in the new series of angels and assassins set in dark and dangerous worlds that is told in our time and in centuries past. Toby O'Dare, former government assassin , he is summoned by the angel Malchiah to fifteenth-century Rome to solve a terrible crime of poisoning and to uncover the secrets of an earthbound restless spirit. His objective is to calm this restless spirit. As the story continues Toby is soon reconnected with his own past. Toby is a post-traumatic stress disorder survivor from his childhood where his mother slaughtered his brother. Due to his past makes him perfect for his mission, a vigilante who dispenses justice; he is a time traveler, and he is set to rid the world of horror. You must read the first in the series (Angel Time, 2009). It sets the stage for this sequel.

I have always been a big fan of Anne Rice and own every book she has ever written, her Vampire Chronicles, the Witches, she is an amazing storyteller. She combines her Catholicism, her fictional takes on the Gospel, and her passion for the dark side. This is a must for all Anne Rice fans, and if you have never read Anne Rice this is a great new series to get started with.
Highly recommended.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second in the series..., October 17, 2010
This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
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Having read the first novel in this series, I was thrilled to read this one. This is the second novel in a planned series by Anne Rice, who in recent years has reconnected with her Catholic upbringing. She has written a series, which I have not read yet, about Jesus. And now she is creating a series about angels and absolution. The first book in the series bears a bit of a hokey title, that isn't so hokey once you learn what the story is about - Angel Time. Of the two books in the series that I have read now, the first one was definitely the best.

Of Love and Evil picks up where Angel Time left off. We are immersed in the life, longing, and regrets of Toby O'Dare, a reformed contract killer. Shortly into the story, Toby reconnects with the girlfriend of his former life and the son they share - one that he was unaware of until the angel told him that he had a son. He knows he is needed for another mission for the angel Malchiah and has his reunion cut short by the mission. Just as he had been thrust back in time in Angel Time, he is again thrust back in time to work hard to right a great wrong. This one seems insurmountable, creating a truly suspenseful tale.

I'm not entirely sure what genre this book fits into. Perhaps fantasy? Given some of the fantasy reading I have read recently, I can see that it can be flexible genre that doesn't just involve elves, fairies, vampires, and sword play. It can also involve stories of the bizarre and supernatural with roots in the present. This story most definitely fits the latter.

This story was an excellent and suspenseful tale. Beautifully created by Anne Rice, who gives description without inundating the reader with it - subtle description brought this story to life. This book would appeal to anyone who likes well written fiction be it contemporary or fantasy. It has earned keeper status on my shelf.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise but nevertheless packed with depth, June 10, 2011
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This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
Anne Rice books never cease to entrap me in this dreamlike state that occurs while I'm reading the books or afterwords. Normally, the need to continue reading her books dawns on you like a spontaneous desire for rich coffee or scrumptious chocolate. Every page of her books weaves an intricate web of rich design that contains many substantive spiritual truths contained within.
Her newest entry to the "Songs of the Seraphim," series does not deviate from the established, proven formula of her other novels. This is not a form of criticism. In actuality, her formula of enticing prose, first-person perspectives of a reclusive individual, and rich historical settings elevates her books to a very high level of quality. This year alone, I have read an estimated ten or twelve Anne Rice books, alongside a slew of college-required reads. Her books leave an imprint of great intrigue that cannot be divested. Instead, the reader only craves for the next installment in one of her many series or does research on some of the intriguing historical, spiritual, or philosophical questions raised in her books.

Anne Rice's inquisitive self has always been the strength of her novels. Every novel of hers is mostly centered around some difficult spiritual question that she herself has been wrestling with. "Of Love and Evil," raises an interesting dilemna that is pivotal to our faith. Now, that we have equipped ourselves with this new Christian perspective, What determines something as a good or evil act? More importantly, could a loving act that we believe reflects the spirit of Christ be a definably evil act?

Readers are transported to Renaissance Italy to become involved with a mystery that involves a Jewish physician wrongly being convicted for supposedly poisoning their trusted, Catholic patient. Anne Rice uses this perplexing mystery to immerse the reader into this picturesque world with ease. Using Toby O'Dare as the curious soul with a spiritual dilemna, the reader's full psyche becomes attached to this main perspective. Again, these troubled, reclusive souls of Anne Rice's books work wonderfully because they essentially reflect universal themes of spiritual struggle. All of us equally,with some variance,feel spiritually bankrupt at times in our life even when we have a solid relationship with God. Similarly with the Jesus novels, spiritual struggles are not exempted from the characters even when their faith appears to be perfected.

Whether you are a Christian or not, this novel should appeal widely to any readers that thirsts for an exciting mystery story that contains human characters with realistic flaws. More importantly, the spiritual struggles of these characters are equally faced by all individuals of differing faith backgrounds. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and agnostics alike ponder the question of our purpose for existence. Even when our beliefs appear externally solidified. We still disbelieve the beliefs we thought we had conceived. At the time of reading this novel, I struggled greatly with the question of: "What if my supposed belief in God is worthless after I become nonexistent when I die ?

Meaning, after I die, the whole notion of having a conscious self will become a useless ideal. If there really is nothing after our deaths then "What really is the use of striving to morally perfect ourselves?" There would be no benefits or compensation for acting benevolently towards other humans. Because, in the short frame of our human lives, we'll only be partially experiencing the wonders of a morally-superb life filled with love. We'll only have glimpses of a perfected world where our pain and struggling truly works as a cause that will bring about an effect in the form of an afterlife which informs us that our endeavors are not completely useless. Toby O'Dare chooses to undertake the risk of facing the possibility of a meaningless existence because the other solution involves having a belief that our inclination to love is an accidental , purposeless desire. Having a God be our endpoint serves not as an escape from the pain of the reality of nothingness. It strengthens the truth that our love, our dreams, and our desires are not manufactured by a soulless machine. Internally, there exists a soul that powers this insatiable desire for transcendence. When we peer at art or are overwhelmed by the ineffable beauty of rich, symphonic music, we are having otherworldly experiences that inform our need for a God. Anne Rice books mimic that same effect. Every time, I read her books; I sense the poverty of my soul and realize the many abstract qualities or mysteries of our world that prove to us that this universe requires a God.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Love and Evil by Anne Rice, August 19, 2012
This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
Such a wonderful continuation of the series! This book continues the story of Toby O'Dare, a former assassin who is trying to make things right not only within the present, but within the past as well. Again, the historical aspect that was incorporated into the story was wonderful. I could feel the emotions that went through the book as I did with Angel Time, and I loved the connection between Toby and the people he was helping in the past. One of my favorite parts of the story was Ankanoc coming and trying to steer Toby away from his task. Anne was really able to bring back the struggle between Heaven and Hell/Good and Evil with Ankanoc's temptation of Toby and Malchiah saving him. While Toby found his way back to God and made confession to a priest, the book ended on a cliffhanger, and I can only hope that there will be another book in the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Angels and demons ahoy! Not Rice's best by a long shot., July 8, 2012
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This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
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I didn't exactly enjoy the first book in this series but now that the character of Toby O'Dare had been established, I hoped that the series would improve so I ordered a copy of "Of Love and Evil". At less than two hundred pages, it's a very short book, especially by Anne Rice standards.

Toby has been redeemed from his dark past, but that doesn't mean he is free from making amends for it. He contacts a woman that he knocked up when he was a teenager and offers to fly her out to California so he can meet her and his son. Even though she hasn't heard from him in ten years, she immediately accepts, and we're introduced to Liona, the love of Toby's life. Toby is delighted with his son, and quickly arranges to provide for the two of them. But the reunion is short, for Toby is once again needed to do the angel Malchiah's bidding, this time in 15th century Rome. Unlike during his previous mission, Toby is going to be fighting evil - but this time he's up against more than mere humans. In the dark, dirty city of Rome, demons and ghosts interfere in the lives of the living, insuring that this will be Toby's toughest assignment yet.

If a man that I had disappeared and left me pregnant a decade before suddenly called and asked me to fly to the other side of the country for a weekend getaway, I would have hung up on him. Yet Liona, in her brief appearance in this story, is perfectly happy to do just that - and to take the child fathered by Toby with her! It doesn't seem suspicious to her? It doesn't strike her as a possibly hazardous situation? I mean, I get that she loved him and that he had to leave their hometown suddenly because of the circumstances of his mother's death...but her actions were so *stupid* that I can't believe in her existence except as a convenient plot point. No sane woman would be as forgiving and loving as Liona is such a situation! Even more implausible was the fact that her son instantly bonded with his father and wanted to move out to California and live with him. The man is a stranger to him! I am *concerned* about Toby Jr.'s life back in New Orleans if he's so eager to leave it.

This isn't even the main storyline, merely an introduction that showcases how much life improves when a soul turns from the path of evil. At least, I assume that's the intent. But it sets the story on such uneven footing that I had trouble getting into the rest of the story.

Once Toby is back in the 15th century, trying to protect a Jewish doctor accused of poisoning his patient through the demon living in his house, the story picks up pace and gets a lot more interesting. I actually liked Vitale, the doctor, and his patron/friend Niccolò. They had a strong friendship that overcame the virulent Antisemitism common to the time. One man suffered physically as a poison sapped his strength; the other was being emotionally ravaged by the stress of living with a demon in his house. The battle between good and evil, and the way destroys a man, was told more effectively in their lives than in the endless internal monologues of the main character Toby.

But I'm still not clear on why the angels need men like Toby to do their bidding. I really hoped that would be explained a little more than it was in Angel Time. I mean, the angels are there in the past, hanging out and watching events...but it still takes a time traveler to affect change? That makes no sense to me. It's not as if there aren't already plenty of souls living in the fifteenth century; surely one of them would be just as effective a vessel.

The brevity of the book leaves a lot of little world-building details out, and that left me feeling unsatisfied. The book also ends on a cliffhanger, and there's no indication that Rice is working on the sequel. Even if she does eventually publish one, I don't think I'll be joining her for it. Toby is not an interesting character, and even though some segments of the book are entertaining it gets incredibly bogged down in details about good versus evil that don't go anywhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars terrific Christian historical metaphysical thriller, December 4, 2010
This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
Malchiah the angel takes former government assassin Toby O'Dare with him on the latter's second case to right historical wrongs (see Angel Time). This time he is sent back to the era of Pope Leo X in the Holy City of Rome. There he is find out what led to an angry dybbuk spirit haunting modern day Manhattan.

Apparently in the realm of the Medici, a Jew has been accused of devilish witchcraft and murder by poison. He investigates the homicide and the accusations, which to a killing peer like Toby smells so Medici. At the same his mind wanders back to the recent revelation that he sired a son whom he just met in New York. The simple case turns darker and uglier as Toby finds himself in danger from diabolical adversaries back in fifteenth century Rome and twenty-first century Manhattan.

The second Songs of Seraphim is a terrific Christian historical metaphysical thriller. Toby is a stronger protagonist than when he worked the Angel Time case as the audience learns somewhat of his mortal past. Fast-paced in both eras, Of Love and Evil shows Anne Rice at her best as she effortlessly guides readers back and forth between the six-centuries ago past, Roby's human period, and modern day New York in an entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rice's Angels Working Overtime, November 23, 2010
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G P Padillo "paolo" (Portland, ME United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
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It is no small thing to say that the opening pages of Anne Rice's "Of Love and Evil" are among the most beautiful I've read in a long, long time. In them, Rice sets us up in the dreamy, alternate universe where the time space continuum seems not to exist at all and back in that world with Toby O'Dare, introduced to us in the first book of the Songs of the Seraphim series.

In a fairly slim volume, Rice weaves an interesting tapestry of sights, smells and sounds of Rome, in the midst of the Italian Renaissance. Rice is nothing if not the mistress of strangers in a strange world, and in addition to a 21st century time traveling back to this most Catholic of cities, she introduces also to the small Jewish community, the mystical, the murderous and a Dybbuk or two.

As intriguing as the story is, it moves sometimes in herky jerky fashion, with too many pages where Rice's descriptive prose are spent setting up a scene that seems to halt or put the breaks on the action. A fan of this author, I don't mind such detours, but others may, though I can't imagine who else this book would appeal to outside the realm of Rice's legion of fans. Not a masterpiece, but a fun - and often moving story, well told.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised, December 15, 2010
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Kelly (Fantasy Literature) (Columbia, MO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) (Hardcover)
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I started _Of Love and Evil_ with modest expectations. I'd been underwhelmed with the previous SONGS OF THE SERAPHIM novel, Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim, Book One. I'm also increasingly annoyed with the trend toward publishing extremely slender books in hardcover. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised by _Of Love and Evil_. (I still think it makes a pretty skinny hardcover, though, at 192 pages.)

When we last saw Toby O'Dare, he had just learned that, ten years previous, his girlfriend Liona had given birth to his son. As _Of Love and Evil_ opens, Liona brings Toby junior to California. Toby gets to see his old love again and meet his son for the first time. He'd love to spend more time with this newfound family, but the angel Malchiah has another mission for him.

Toby is sent to Renaissance Rome, where he is needed to unravel a mystery. The "case" Toby needed to solve in _Angel Time_ was relatively simple, as was its solution. This one is more complex. There's more than one thing going on here: a young man taken mysteriously ill, and a restless spirit haunting a house. The answers are not so cut-and-dried, and Toby faces the possibility of making a tragic mistake. His newfound faith is tested by someone eager to exploit his uncertainties and doubts. The more nuanced nature of the plot makes this a more satisfying read than _Angel Time_, as does the fact that it's clearer in this book why Toby in particular was chosen for this assignment. Only someone who knew poisons and could play the lute would do.

Two scenes in particular stand out for their beautiful writing and emotional resonance. One takes place at an elegant party, where Toby is mesmerized by an array of earthly delights; the imagery is dreamlike and yet a sense of urgency looms in the background because we know Toby is in danger of making a huge mistake. The other is the pub scene just before Toby returns to our own time; it's a gorgeous scene revolving around music and divine love. These passages show that Anne Rice is still a master of description, and they remind me why I was once such a devoted fan of hers in the first place.

She does still have the habit of latching on to a particular word or phrase and hammering it excessively, rather like she used to do with phrases like "Dark Trick." The quotation "world enough and time" is one example of this -- as is, oddly, the word "caviar" (it's relevant to the plot, but it still feels overused). There are also a few sections that feel preachy, particularly Toby's theological discussion with his guardian angel upon returning to the present.

I'm still not sure I "know" Toby as a character, but it's starting to seem like that's the point. He doesn't know himself either, not yet. He has spent years shutting away his emotions and spiritual aspirations and now is trying to redefine himself. His diction may prove distracting to some readers -- it's hard to imagine a 28-year-old man of our time speaking this formally -- but one gets used to it after a while. And besides, Rice is better at elevated speech than at trendy speech, so she's playing to her strengths by characterizing Toby in this way.

Despite some flaws, _Of Love and Evil_ is far more compelling than I expected. It ends with a terrific hook for the next book, and for the first time in some years I find myself eagerly awaiting an Anne Rice novel.
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Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2)
Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) by Anne Rice (Hardcover - November 30, 2010)
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