In Search of the 'Old' Anne Rice

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Although the world remembers her for her vampire novels, bestselling author Anne Rice has steadily built a name for herself in what most people call Christian fiction.Since 2005's "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt", Rice has enjoyed a growing audience and some measure of commercial success - if not at the level of her days in vampire fiction. However, the critical reception has been decidedly mixed. "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" may have received generally positive reviews, but succeeding works have not been met so favorably.For instance, "Angel Time", the first book in a planned trilogy of books called "Songs of the Seraphim", has been cheered and jeered by critics and readers alike. While some praised its meticulously researched historical details, others chided it for being a flat mishmash of genres and an inferior work when put beside her previous vampire novels.Rice, however, remains undeterred.Just recently, she came out with "Of Love and Evil", the second book in the "Songs of the Seraphim" series. Will this finally end Rice's lengthening list of literary duds? Or is this yet another book better put in the bargain bin?"Of Love and Evil" picks up right where "Angel Time" left off. Fresh from accomplishing a mission in the Middle Ages for the seraph Malchiah, former assassin Toby O' Dare is waiting to meet the son he never even knew he had, born out of an old relationship he had as a teenager.While this reunion with his son gives him a moment of happiness, it is quickly cut short by yet another mission from Malchiach, who now sends him to Renaissance Italy, in the city of Rome, to aid a Jewish doctor being accused of poisoning his wealthy gentile friend. Complicating things even further is the presence of a "dybbuk", a demon that refuses to vacate the Jewish doctor's house.Time isn't even on Toby's side, as the local population and the Roman Catholic clergy grow restless and demand answers for both the poisoning and the haunting going on. As a volatile population closes in on the charges he is meant to protect, Toby has to rely on all the knowledge and experience he's gained from his life as an assassin if his mission is to succeed.No serious challenges"Of Love and Evil" clocks in at a little over 200 pages, and is something that can be read within the space of three hours or less. Unfortunately, this has more to do with the novel being short rather than with it being a gripping page-turner. …