Of Love and Evil

Written by Anne Rice
Review by Nancy Henshaw

For ten years Toby O’Dare has been a hired assassin, submerged in evil. Before he can hope for happiness with his beloved Liona and their son he must expiate his gross sins by attempting to put right ancient wrongs. Guided by Malchiah and Shmarya, his guardian spirits, from present-day California he finds himself in Renaissance Italy. There Niccolo, son of wealthy Signore Antonio, is near death and all the family are plagued by a vicious and destructive being, thought to be a dybbuk. Toby achieves peace for this unhappy creature but cannot prevent Niccolo’s attempted murderer – his own brother Lodovico – from dying, a suicide, in mortal sin. Toby must soon face another venture into the past, but Ankanoc, a beguiling demon, strives to seduce him again into evil and further dangers are to be encountered in the present day.

There is an exciting story to be told here, but at first the writing is pedestrian and the characters lack appeal. The Italian section is well researched with some lively changes of scene. Then at last, when Toby confronts the so-called dybbuk, Of Love and Evil truly bursts into life.

A strong Christian element makes Toby an unusual hero. The author’s note is well worth reading, particularly about music.