Angels of Destruction

On a cold night in January, a stranger appears on the doorstep of Margaret Quinn, a widow living a solitary existence in a small Pennsylvania town. A nine-year-old orphan named Norah, dressed in tatters, claims to have found a welcome there. Margaret passes off Norah as her granddaughter and enrolls her in school, where Norah reveals to the other children her mysterious, unearthly powers.

The arrival of Norah leads Margaret’s sister Diane to look into the disappearance of Erica Quinn. In 1975, the teenager had joined her angry young boyfriend in a quest across the country to meet up with a band of anarchists calling themselves the Angels of Destruction. Urged on by Norah, Diane follows the trail of the runaways to the little town of Madrid, New Mexico.

Angels of Destruction (2009) is a story of hope and fear, heartache and redemption. The sage of the Quinn family unfolds against an America wracked by change. It delicately dances on the line between the real and the imagined. Published by Crown Books in 2009. With foreign editions in the United Kingdom (shown here), Poland, Korea, China, Germany, and Spain.  The Washington Post named it one of the Fiction Books of the Year in 2009.


“Angels of Destruction doesn’t shrink from the tragedies and inevitable separations that dog us. The book’s coda is beautiful and wrenching, yet still leaves its protagonists and readers open to the possibility that the miraculous, once glimpsed, might recur. “Love is not consolation, it is light,” wrote Simone Weil. In these bleak times, we can thank Donohue for opening a door in a darkened room." -- Elizabeth Hand, The Washington Post


"With lush language and a rich emotional terrain to cover, Angels of Destruction is a dark but hopeful fable of family." -- Sacramento News Review


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


"...uncanny ear for capturing the libretto of childhood, not only in the preternatural Norah, but also her heart-on-his-sleeve pal, Sean. Indeed, the novel’s enchanting cast of peripheral characters possess tragic narratives of their own. They are sure to resonate with readers following the heart-rending path of a mother and prodigal daughter first torn asunder, then soaring skyward on the redemptive wings of unconditional love." -- BookPage

Interview with Aesthetica magazine on "Re-enchanting Everyday Life."

The original U.S. hardback edition (Crown 2009)