Monday, February 29, 2016

REVIEW: Fallen Land by Taylor Brown

Fallen Land
by Taylor Brown

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page Count: 288
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Format: Paperback ARC

How got: ARC thru GR giveaway

First attention getter: browsing upcoming releases on Amazon


From GoodReads:

Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward.

Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South.

Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers.

In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives.

Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

A book that is unflinching in the face of horrible stuff, Fallen Land doesn’t hesitate to explore the full horror of war and tragedy. So keep that in mind when reading this title or previewing it for younger readers; not everyone would be able to handle the imagery and themes explored within. Yet, if you can get past that, this is a gripping tale of survival, betrayal, war, and love.

First off, the leads are perfect to tell this story through. An intriguing mixture of innocence in the face of war and scarred souls, both Callum and Ava are immediately relatable. Two youngsters thrown in very trying circumstances, they give a horrific story a human face and young soul. Exploring how the events of war impact their lives and change them kept me reading from page one.

The dynamic story of survival against marauders and the elements in Civil War Appalachia and Georgia kept me on the edge of my seat. Not for one second does the story let up. From the very first words describing a confrontation to the last big showdown, the reader just can’t help but turn the pages, eager to find out if Callum and Ava with survive the next chapter. With all the horrific imageries and themes explored, their survival didn’t feel like a sure thing by any means.

Personally, I’m actually glad that the author wasn’t afraid to go full bore on those imageries. It gives a graphic image of what a war-torn landscape would look like: blackened trees, a fire red skyline, cold mountain breezes, random corpses, and a citizenry that is on the verge of collapse. It brings a sense of immediacy and realism to the story that makes it even more powerful.

I wasn’t expecting like this work as much as I did. The characters, vivid landscape, and intense survival story all make this a win. I’d recommend this to any lover of Civil War tales and powerful tales in general. I look forward to more from this author.

Note: Book received for free via a giveaway on GR in exchange for an honest opinion.

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