The Fall (Thieves of Fate #2) by Tracy Townsend

FallThe Fall is the second Instalment in Tracy Townsend’s Thieves of Fate series in which we once again return to a fascinating world.

Please be aware that this review may contain spoilers for The Nine so please don’t read this if you haven’t read the first book yet – and also, I would suggest you read the first in series rather than diving straight into The Fall otherwise you’ll be missing out on a lot of world and character building.

In The Nine we literally discover a self writing book that documents the experiences of nine selected individuals as they go about their everyday existence.  They’re guinea pigs in a way, chosen seemingly randomly to allow God the chance to scrutinise their actions and behaviour.  This series focuses on three primary species – humans – (needs no explanation I think), Lanyani – trees of a sort, they can move about, communicate and more importantly think quite strategically and Aigamuxa – creatures that are large, strong and fast.  They also communicate and are able to think, their eyes are set in their heels – definitely an unusual development and they tend to resort to violence in the first resort.

The second book takes us about 8 or 9 months after the conclusion of No.1.  Rowena is working in the Alchemist’s apothecary, the alchemist is still recovering and Anslem is conspiring with the Alchemist to keep Rowena in the dark about things.  Everything is going swimmingly until they’re invited to a party, a party that sees them being hired for an unusual job that involves the trio travelling a long way to explore a library – ( I’ll repeat it for those who missed it first time – explore a library).  Meanwhile other things, plenty of other things, are afoot, conspiring is rife and everyone seems to be scheming – the self writing book has fallen into different hands that could endanger everyone and certain species are becoming allies most unexpectedly.

This is proving to be a series that has plenty going on and no shortage of thought provoking material.  It’s very clever, incredibly creative and well plotted with a great combination of science and theology.  There are plenty of characters and in fact there’s a much deeper exploration of motivations.  However, and I’m just going to get this out of the way early on, this does slow the pace somewhat, particularly in the first half of the book.  There’s a lot to take on board, plenty of POVs and plots just waiting to break out.  Basically, you need to pay close attention, everything is relevant here and so you need to carefully digest each chapter.  I realise that probably sounds a bit dramatic or perhaps even puzzling – like, ‘don’t you pay attention to every book you read?’ Obviously, yes, but some books just take more brain power than others is what I’m driving at. So, yes, a slow start that you need to be patient with – but well worth the effort.

The author really builds on the world in this instalment taking us exploring much further afield and spending time with different cultures and, given the way the story ends, I think that’s a trend that is set to continue.  I really liked this aspect of the story, we visit a Japanese inspired country with a love of clockwork invention and spend time getting to know the politics and set up which result in some interesting developments.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, as I mentioned, there is a slight slowing of pace initially which makes it feel like the plot is pending somehow, just waiting to really get started.  For me, there was something more holding me back and it took me a while to figure out what that was.  I think, to be honest, it boils down to the fact that Rowena, Anselm and the Bear have less page time.  Obviously, that was necessary in order to explore what was going on with the others in the story and to give readers a deeper insight but I felt the lack of their presence a little – even whilst I understand the necessity for it.

All that being said, the second half of the book really does come into its own with a burst of action and revelations and the ending has left me desperate to pick up the next book.  So, in spite of a few issues here and there this was still a very good read.  You do need to exercise patience but overall it’s a clever plot that’s well executed.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Edelweiss, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

 

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Weekly Wrap Up : 9th June 2019

Again, I’ve missed a weekly wrap up and so I am combining two weeks in one post.  Actually I quite like doing a twofer so perhaps that’s what I’ll do in future – although I’m still torn because the weekly wrap up does keep me more focused and on track.  I’ll see – the jury’s still out.  Anyway, my reading has been very slow – in fact I had about four days of no reading whatsoever.  We’ve been travelling and also spending time with friends so reading has taken something of a backseat.  In fairness, slowing down my reading has meant I’m catching up on reviews – so it’s swings and roundabouts.  Hopefully my reading will be back to par next week.  So, what have I read since my last update:

My books:

  1. The Red Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear
  2. The Fall by Tracy Townsend (RTF)

Next scheduled reads:

  1. Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  2. Across the Void by SK Vaughn
  3. Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
  4. The Whisper Man by Alex North

Upcoming reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Council by Snorri Kristjansson
  3. Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
  4. The Fall by Tracy Townsend

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall by Bethany Griffin is based on the classic The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe.  I really enjoyed this, it’s well written and told in a way that builds the tension slowly and very satisfyingly.  I guess you could call it a slow burner really and I think for me personally the pleasure that I derived from the book was also added to by the fact that I’ve read the original (albeit many years ago) and also had a fixation on watching Hammer Horror and other such films and so have also seen a film version of this starring Vincent Price.

Anyway, to the story.  The original story was narrated through a third party, a friend of Roderick’s.  The Usher family are supposedly cursed stemming back over the centuries.  The very house they live in feels sinister and they all seem to die young. What I really liked about this reimagining is that Madeline is the narrator.  Madeline and Roderick are twins and the last in the current line of Ushers.  Their parents died whilst they were relatively young – sucumbing to the curse themselves – and the house, which is sentient, seems to have chosen Madeline as it’s latest favourite (not really a good thing as it involves inheriting the curse and dying young).  The fact that Madeline is now telling the story lends her a little bit more likability which I don’t recall from either the original book or the film version.

The main characters are Madeline and Roderick.  Roderick is sent away to school at a fairly young age by his mother who is desperate to save him from the ‘curse’ – you’ll note that Madeline isn’t sent away, she may be the house’s favourite but she certainly isn’t her mothers.  Roderick is the favourite of their mother and indeed sending him away from the house does seem to lessen his own illness.  At first of course he feels compelled to return – the ‘twin’ link being strong, but eventually he returns less and less leaving Madeline to the machinations of the house – and the doctors who are supposedly looking after her well being.

The other character is the house of course.  It seems able to instill feelings into the people who merely touch it.  It takes them over, controls their actions, bends them to it’s desire.  And, what it most desires is the continuation of the Usher line (even if that seems to have undesirably incestuous implications!)

Now, what you have to remember here is that the original book trod a very fine line between sinister curse, creepy house and mental illness.  Having a curse hanging over the Usher’s in fact means that they put every downfall to that very thing.  Not to mention, mind over matter.  Even the house lends itself to a certain induced madness.  With this retelling Madeline gives a much more convincing job of how the house feels to her, which is not, of course, to say that this isn’t in her mind!  Manifesting itself in all sorts of unpleasant forms whenever it appears to be displeased by the actions of the inhabitants.  Again, though is the house sentient, is Madeline cursed or is she slightly unhinged living in an uncared for house that is simply crumbling into the foundations and going a little crazy due to inertia, boredom, loneliness, misery?

Upon completing this story – no, I wouldn’t say this is creepy, in terms of get yourself behind a cushion and be afraid to read on.  I would more say that this is a story that slowly reveals itself and then takes a hold of you.  It’s written very well and the author manages to instill a certain gothic feel – from unexplored, dustry rooms in the house to strange monsters that inhabit the tarn that surrounds it.  The chapters alternate between the different ages of Madeline interspersed with sections that have been found in one of her ancestor’s diaries.  I liked this form of storytelling although at first I hadn’t quite grasped the relevance of some of these chapters and now feel as though I should go back and read it again.  A hint here: the chapters jump backwards and forwards and also include diary excerpts but although these may feel random they are all, in fact, linked and events that you read from Madeline at a younger age are then readdressed or become more meaningful in later sections.  I think I read that Poe was a master of making everything in his stories relevant and Griffin seems to have also mastered this technique.

In terms of criticisms – I didn’t really have any.  You could be forgiven for being put out a bit about a retelling, this being a classic after all – but I personally think this is well done, it strongly reflects the original and as mentioned I enjoyed having Madeline’s side of events.

I enjoyed this very much.  I wouldn’t say it’s an all out creepy read, or more to the point it’s not really ‘horror’ so if you’re expecting or wanting all out horror then this may not be for you.  It definitely achieves a gothic and slightly aged feel and certainly portrays a story of the life of a rather sad, lonely and insular young female whose life is monopolised by the strange curse that surrounds her family.

On reflection I wish I’d read the Poe book first so that I could more accurately compare the two but I suppose hindsight is a thing of beauty!!

I received a copy of The Fall from Orion Publishing – for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.