August 31, 2016

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’s own daughter, Erica, ran away 10 years earlier, and the orphan appears at first to be an answer to a mother’s prayers. 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. 

In the meantime, both Margaret and Norah are being watched by a man in a fedora who has some unearthly powers of his own.  Both plots collide in the final section of the book as the town turns against young Norah and her friends and Diane uncovers the truth behind the Angels of Destruction.

Angels of Destruction is an unforgettable story of hope and fear, heartache and redemption.  The sage of the Quinn family unfolds against an America wracked by change.  As it delicately dances on the line between the real and the imagined, this mesmerizing new novel confirms Keith Donohue’s standing as one of our most inspiring and inventive novelists.


The Better ‘Angels’ of Our Suffering

The Washington Post review by Elizabeth Hand

“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.


Novelist deftly blends literary fiction, fantasy

Corridor Buzz review by Emily Grosvenor originally published March 2, 2009

From its ominous first page to the tumbling blocks of its final chapters, Angels of Destruction is a masterfully paced thriller that reads like a fairy tale and tests the limits of fiction without ever losing believability.


I, consciousness

Sacramento News Review by Kel Munger

But what if the angel that answers our deepest prayers has an agenda of her own? Margaret’s dream of family and Norah’s insistence on having her own way set up a dramatic collision that Donohue navigates deftly. With lush language and a rich emotional terrain to cover, Angels of Destruction is a dark but hopeful fable of family.