Tuesday, March 2, 2010
and Falling, Fly by Skyler White
and Falling, Fly
by Skyler White
Olivia is Damned; a vampiric fallen angel of desire, she feeds off the living seeing herself only as they see her in their lust, longing to know what she really looks like and who she really is. Dominic is Cursed, a brilliant neuroscientist working to discover a way to erase memories so that he can rid himself of his deep, dark secret: memories of centuries of past lives and loves that he shouldn't have, shouldn't be able to remember.
When both find themselves drawn to Ireland, to the underground L'Otel Matthilide, the Hotel of the Damned, their worlds collide. Will these two desperately lonely, searching beings complete each others worlds, or tear them apart?
I know what you're thinking: there is a glut of vampire books out there, and fallen angels are closing in fast. And you're right. There certainly are. But and Falling, Fly is a different take; it really is its own thing. With a touch of the eroticism that marks the adult vamp books, a basis in mythology and religion, a whiff of steampunk, and a heavy smattering of literary allusions, AFF stands apart as a bit of a thinking-persons vampire book. But let's be honest: you'd still read it even if it weren't. We as a culture are obsessed with the vampire mythos. And with the angel mythos, for that matter (and we especially like our angels fallen).
So let's just get to it, shall we?
There were things I loved and things I didn't, but the good outweighed the bad.
Characters: Dominic and Olivia are fascinating, completely able to carry the story. They both live on the fringes of their worlds. Unlike her sisters, Olivia is tired of being what she is. She wants more from life* and she's taking steps to get it. But it's one of those situations where you can't force it, but you can't help but force it, and that is interesting and relatable to read. She's so strong, but so desperately lonely, and even though she feeds off people and is sort of dark, you can't help but feel for her. It is lovely watching her come awake to the world and begin shedding her hard shell. All she wants is a new beginning. Dominic is brilliant and haunted, and capable of such amazing love, but he's terrified to let it in because he has memories of lifetimes worth of love dying and dying and dying. His position is heartbreaking, and all he wants is an end. When these two come together, it's lovely to see, and Skyler White wisely doesn't make it easy. I don't want to give anything away, but she uses cosmic irony to great effect in this story, of which I am a fan.
The side characters are interesting, too, and flesh out the story nicely. As a reader, you can see things that the characters don't, and you can watch the pieces fall into place, for good or ill, while the characters blithely play their parts. It adds a nice layer of tension, and the characters don't seem obtuse to not see what's coming.**
World: Another thing I really liked was the world building. White did extensive research, and it shows. The world is believable even when unbelievable, if that makes sense. Even within L'Otel Matthilide, where all the things that shouldn't exist but do come for a holiday, everything is grounded in reality enough that it rings true. The hotel itself is a fascinating mix of old-world Europe and new-world punkishness, trimmed in steampunk and steeped in all Ireland has to offer. I could visualize it just enough that it was present and fascinating but still enough of a mystery that I wanted to see it for myself.
Romance: It's there. Olivia is a fallen angel of desire, after all, and Dominic is a brainy beefcake. There's a good balance of chemistry and passion, and reluctance and leeriness. The two are combustible in a very nice way. There's a nice edgy eroticism to the story, too, that adds a nice element.
Language: White's writing is often very lyrical and poetic, and sprinkled with allusions, as I said. Here is where the bad(ish) comes in. Though I did like this for the most part, there is some trouble in having a very poetical style in a prose piece. Some things just don't work outside of stanzas, and that was occasionally the case here. Sometimes the poetic style was lovely and visual and striking. But there were times, too, when the poetic phrasing just felt off or confusing or clunky. Sometimes, when trying to turn a beautiful phrase, the meaning was lost and I had to read a few passages over a few times before I got the heart of it. I think some of this might just be the result of this being White's debut. But for the most part, this wasn't much of an issue, and it became less so as the story went on, but I anticipate some readers have trouble with it, especially as some struggle with poetry and poetic phrasing in general. Same goes with the allusions. Though I caught a ton of them and didn't have much trouble, I am sure there are going to be people (those who hate with a fiery passion the game Trivial Pursuit) who just don't get the references and perhaps get a little lost. This isn't necessarily an issue; if you're not the type to like poetry and/or allusions, you probably wouldn't read this one. I just thought it bore mentioning, as people want to know these things going in. (<-- and I suppose while I'm on the topic of advanced warning, if you don't like sexually charged stories***, you may want to skip this one.)
* I use the term loosely, of course.
** Not that all readers will, either. White does make you work for some things, and I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing.
*** Quick test: how do you feel about the word 'cock'? If you just cringed, skip this. If you sat up straighter and said 'where?' go out and grab a copy.
In stores as of today!
I love Nikki @ Bookizzle's review, who described it as being "kind of like falling down the rabbit hole...The book falls outside of the mainstream and is, in essence, a tale about desire vs. love, and the differences between." Well said, Nikki.
Skyler White has super cool hair:
Check out Skyler's website for some neato things.
Book trailer, yo:
disclosure: I received this book for review