March 1, 2011
"Review from Renee Rearden" By The Romance Reviews 2 years ago
Some days feel longer than others, and the monotony of such an existence can drive a person into a rut. Twenty-three year old Ashley Kensington finds herself in just such a position when she realizes her life is going nowhere. She has an uninspiring job at a hardware store and takes classes at the local college. Unfortunately, grief over her stepfather's death five years ago has left her numb and unable to find closure.
When Ashley is pushed to accept her stepfather's death and move on, she escapes into the woods and finds herself in another land. Magic abounds in this new world. Kingdoms are at war over the power to wield magic and rule. Ash finds herself in the middle of this deadly upheaval and discovers she has an important role to play in the outcome of the upcoming battle.
I loved the blurb, fully expecting to encounter fantastical elements. FALLENWOOD delivered with sorcerers, talking dragons, and a speaking cat—all very cool. The theme behind this novel is a common but noble one: Find one's place in life and make a difference in the world—whichever world you're in.
Though the story theme was clear, many other things weren't. When I began reading FALLENWOOD, I knew Ashley was 23 years old. After several chapters and her reactions to various situations, I had to go back to the beginning to check her age. The dialogue and maturity level felt like that of a young teenager instead of an adult.
The story also jumped to different characters' points of view. This writing practice isn't usually a problem. In FALLENWOOD, however, the choice to give some characters a chapter/point of view made the story jarring and difficult to follow. By that, I mean some of the chapters were unnecessary and added nothing to the storyline, and others ended abruptly with no explanation.
As for the romance subplot, this could have been better fleshed out for me. Ashley and Prince Edward's relationship seemed to be two-dimensional and somewhat convenient. Ashley fell for the prince based on true love at first sight. Prince Edward realized Ashley was the gal for him after the circumstances with his first love aren't what he expected. And the final love realization moment came out of nowhere.
I really wanted to like FALLENWOOD. The confusing points of view, two-dimensional characters, and abrupt, unexplained ending left me frustrated and disappointed as a reader. Others may not be bothered by the same issues I had, and I hope they're not. As I said in the beginning, Leslie Soule has created a clear theme in FALLENWOOD, delivered by fantastical creatures. Who can resist that?