Title: Cry to Heaven: A Novel
Author: Anne Rice
Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBT Fiction, 17th- 19th Century, Opera
Stars: **** (4)
Summary: Marc Antonio “Tonio” Treschi, a son of a Councillor of Venice in the 18th century, leads a life of comfort while minding his tutors and taking care of his mother who seemes to suffer from depression. However, as he grows up he uncovers family secrets that veer his destiny from following his father’s footsteps into a world both amazing and terrifying, and resembling nothing of the future he had imagined; a world that could build him up or destroy him, a world where his path merges with Guido Maffeo, a castrato who lost his voice years ago and places his hopes and dreams into the hands of others.
Review: This is a hard book to review. I have read many of Rice’s vampire books about 10 to 15 years ago and loved them. Here her writing isn’t as refined (or maybe I just have years more experience reading and writing and it never was as refined as it seemed back in high school/college). Honestly, the first 100 pages bored (even annoyed) me; many were long winded descriptions that felt uninspired. What kept me going were the flashes of great potential brewing within her characters. And on that account she doesn’t disappoint. The more that was revealed about Tonio and Guido, the more I fell in love with them. Their fears and dreams, defeats and successes are brilliantly interwoven into their developing personalities. The drama of their lives evolves in bits and pieces and we don’t see the entire picture until the very end. And what an ending! In contrast to the shaky and bland start, the ending was so wonderfully brilliant it made reading the novel (and struggling through the rough parts) completely worth it. Overall, an amazing story with memorable leading characters (and some memorable secondary characters) and a great plot although it could have been 100 pages shorter and the novel wouldn’t have suffered for it. Just have patience at the beginning (skip some pages if you must) for a heart wrenching, bittersweet payoff.