Angels of Destruction

Angels of Destruction

by Keith Donohue


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"A magical tale of love and redemption that is as wonderfully written as it is captivating . . . Angels earns its wings."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Margaret Quinn lives alone, quietly mourning the disappearance of her only child, who fled ten years earlier to join a radical student group known as the Angels of Destruction.

On a cold winter’s night, a nine-year-old girl arrives on Margaret’s doorstep, claiming to be an orphan with no place to go. This child beguiles Margaret, and together they hatch a plan to pass her off as her newly found granddaughter, Norah Quinn.

Their conspiracy is made vulnerable by Norah’s magical revelations to the children of the town, and by a lone figure shadowing the girl, who threatens to reveal the child’s true identity and purpose. Who are these strangers really? And what is their connection to the past, the Angels, and Margaret’s long-missing daughter?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307450265
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 861,676
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

KEITH DONOHUE’s first novel, The Stolen Child, was a New York Times bestseller. For many years a ghostwriter, he now works at a federal governmental agency in Washington, D.C. He has published short stories and literary criticism, most recently an introduction to the collected works of Flann O’Brien. Donohue holds a Ph.D. in English from the Catholic University of America.

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Angels of Destruction 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
LisaMorr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Ostensibly it is about a mother whose daughter ran away with her boyfriend in high school. Her husband has passed away, and now she lives alone with the ache of loss. One night Norah appears at her doorstep. And with shared complicity, mother and 'granddaughter' forge a story to explain this sudden arrival.Norah is a lovely child, and special in many ways. She becomes best friends with Sean, someone else who is marred by the loss of his father.The angels of destruction themselves have multiple meanings in the book. I thought the book was lyrical, beautiful and bittersweet. I will definitely read more by the author.
reba345 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second novel from this author and again, fantastic writing. It is somewhat mystical and very relatatable to human emotion as well. The relationships you build with the characters make you feel you're living the story with them!
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: When the mysterious nine-year-old Norah knocks on widow Margaret Quinn's door in the middle of a cold, snowy night, Margaret accepts her into her house without a second thought. Margaret is still grieving over the loss of her daughter Erica, who ten years previously ran away with her boyfriend, intent on joining the revolutionary group Angels of Destruction. Norah quietly steps into the center of Margaret's grief, and takes on the role of Margaret's granddaughter - a link to the daughter she believes is gone forever. But while it's clear that Norah is no ordinary child, it's less clear who - or what - she really is, what her purpose is, and how - or even if - she's connected to the missing Erica.Review: Angels of Destruction, as a book, feels quite a lot like its main character, Norah: mysterious, slightly ethereal, and filled with an air of sadness and loneliness, but still shot through with hope. The writing, too, is all of those things; even apart from the story they're telling, Donohue somehow manages to fill the words themselves with a sense of loneliness and longing. At the end, I'm not sure that I've entirely wrapped my head around the message and moral of the story, and there are some issues of plotting that I had problems with, but the writing itself was powerful; mesmerizing and haunting enough that after I finished I had to get up and take a walk for an hour just to ground myself again. This is a book to be read on a cold and blustery November evening, or maybe a gray and slushy February day, not a sunny June afternoon.My reaction to Angels of Destruction is more or less the same as my response to Donohue's first book, The Stolen Child. The plotting was somewhat strange, some characters (particularly Paul, Margaret's husband/Erica's father) were underdeveloped, and enough threads were left unresolved and ambiguous to keep it from being a truly satisfying read. However, for years after finishing The Stolen Child, I would find myself thinking about it at odd moments, and Angels of Destruction feels like it's going to linger in my head, taunting me with its mysteries and open-ended theologies for years to come. 3.5 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: Hard to say. It's an interesting story, and gorgeously written, but not exactly an easy or fun read. I think it will probably be enjoyed the most by readers of literary fiction who don't mind a fair bit of magical realism and a number of ambiguous story elements.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This mysterious and mesmerizing triptych of a novel opens with widowed Margaret Quinn opening her door and finding a child, half-frozen, shivering on her doorstep. She takes this orphaned waif in, dubbing her Norah assuming that the tattered and torn piece of paper pinned to her coat is the start of her name. As Margaret makes this orphaned child comfortable and warm, she is thrown back into her memories of her own daughter, Erica, as a child. Erica had run away from home ten years before to join a radical group called the Angels of Destruction. Norah's presence, which Margaret explains away by saying that the child is her granddaughter come to live with her while her parents work out their difficulties, starts to heal the wounds in Margaret's heart. Norah also befriends an emotionally hurt, young, local boy named Sean, whose father has abandonned his mother and him. Sean knows the secret that Norah is not really Margaret's granddaughter but conspires with Margaret to keep this hidden from the rest of the town, and even from Margaret's own sister. What neither Margaret or Sean know is what Norah really is or from where she's arrived. Sean sees her perform small miracles or impossibilities and starts to believe Norah's assertion that she is an angel, and assertion that will cause the unravelling of everything.The second portion of the book moves back into the past, into Erica's adolescence. Margaret's husband Paul and Erica butt heads in more ways than just as typical father and teenaged daughter, growing more and more estranged and contemptuous of each other as Erica falls even harder for the boyfriend her father so disdains. Boyfriend Wiley is very obviously a loose cannon, even before he convinces Erica to run away with him and travel cross-country to join the revolutionary group Angels of Destruction. But Erica takes off anyway, escaping the father she thinks completely hypocritical and the mother she barely considers but whose heart she breaks. Much of the second part of the book details Erica and Wiley's flight to the West, including a long and unplanned stopover in the Tennessee mountains when Erica is ill and they are taken in by a grandmother and her otherwordly granddaughter Una, who bears a remarkable resemblence to the Norah who will appear 10 years later at Margaret's door.The third part of the book moves back to Margaret and Norah together, beautifully tying the threads of the first two narratives together as the novel's inevitable denouement plays out. There is an elegaic feel to the writing in this novel and Donohue skillfully keeps from answering the reader's questions about Norah and her reality. Is she an angel sent to thaw Margaret's frozen heart and help heal Sean or is she a mentally unbalanced little girl or is she exactly who she claimed at the start of the novel, an orphaned child who appeared out of nowhere and beckoned by the light in the Quinn house? In this novel of damaged characters and rejected love, there are no easy and simple answers. The ending is both a surprise and not a surprise, striking in its inevitability. Despite knowing there will be no answers, there is almost a compulsion to keep reading, to come to the end, to know the little that we will be granted. This is quite simply an obsessive and ensnaring novel.
randalrh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Donohue captures the somber pace of real emotion very well. It seems as though he's tried to place this book more firmly in the real world than Stolen Child, though, and by doing so actually makes it feel less real than that book with clearer fantasy elements.
wirtley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderful writing. A small girl appears on the doorstep of Margaret McQuinn. Margaret's daughter ran away when she was in high school. Margaret tells everyone that the small girl is her granddaughter. The girl does magical things. Is she an angel? Also, the search for the runaway daughter begins. EXCELLENT!
chmessing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An okay book but definitely not as interesting as this author's first book The Stolen Child.
lalbro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Angels of Destruction brought me back to a time when I read magical realism constantly. In the midst of a series of crazy snowstorms, a tale that draws heavily on the magic of cold and snow and angels was perfect! I loved the images drawn in this tale, and the ways in which the thought that angels live among us was made manifest in the story. I didn't want to put it down, and was sad when it ended. Beautiful, magical.
heathersblue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved "The Stolen Child" so I was excited to find a new book! This is a truly fantastic has moments of a religious bent, but it isn't a specific bent and it is embedded in a great story about two parents that lose a child and children that lose their parents and how they are affected and look for healing. It would seem, in the end, all one really needs to do is ask and believe. I loved the book. Please Keith, keep writing.
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Rupert_My_Love More than 1 year ago
"Angels of Destruction," in its entirety, maintains this slightly undeveloped aura about it; there are gaps in the plot that are not revisited nor concluded by the end, and what are assumed to be key plot elements (for example the cult 'Angels of Destruction' itself) are, in fact, secondary and unimportant. So why mention them at all? And why title the novel after an element mentioned only in passing? Although the ambiguousness of the little girl is blatantly intentional, her story is somehow lacking and her departure, even more so, is rushed and anticlimactic; in fact, that word sums up the entire ending as well.... Either way, Keith Donohue is an accomplished and detailed writer who pays special homage to the landscape of his novels. While "Stolen Child" remains the better of his two novels, "Angels of Destruction" is worth a go.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1985 in wintry Pennsylvania nine year old Norah knocks on the door of lonely widow Margaret Quinn. The older woman lets the frozen waif inside, but is surprised to learn the child insists she does not have parents and has always been on her own. Norah explains that she needed shelter from the cold night and saw the light in Margaret¿s home. Margaret excitedly allows Norah to stay; feeling redemption as her own daughter Erica as a teen ran away a decade ago to the West Coast with her boyfriend to join the radical Angels of Destruction.

Margaret and Norah agree that Norah will masquerade her as her granddaughter. Norah enters the school and becomes friends with a student Sean whose dad abandoned him. When Norah begins to insist she is an angel with a destructive message, some fear her while others revel in her seemingly magical happiness. However, one person in the shadows has followed her from before and struggles with what to do about her.

Obviously the bond between Margaret and Norah is the center of the tale as they even convince the older woman¿s skeptical sister that the child is her grand-niece. Using flashbacks, readers learn what happened to Erica on the road west. However, the key to the story line that keeps reader¿s attention is who Norah truly is and what is her mission in Pennsylvania.

Harriet Klausner