More than 30 years after penning the now-classic "Interview With a Vampire," best-selling author Anne Rice retains her knack for spinning an intoxicating yarn.

Her latest, "Of Love and Evil," the second book in her "Songs of the Seraphim" series, begins with the poetic: "I dreamed a dream of angels. I saw them and I heard them in a great and endless galactic night." From the opening lines and throughout the book, it's classic and elegant Rice - who seemingly remains at the height of her talent.

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The story follows the saga of former government assassin Toby O'Dare and the angel Malchiah as they travel back to 15th-century Rome to unravel the mystery of a poisoning and to save a family from itself.

As always, Rice is remarkable in her ability to breathe life into another place, another time. We see the beauty of her "immense and seemingly endless city, a city of domes and rooftop gardens, and rising towers and crosses."

The once-atheist Rice announced she abandoned organized religion, but would retain her devout Christian beliefs.

And it's that faith that permeates "Of Love and Evil," culminating in a classic battle between good and evil, angels and devils. For Christian fans, it simply enhances what's already an unabashed morality tale. But for non-Christians, it's off-putting, and almost silly in its forcefulness.


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