Fallenwood, by Leslie Soule

Fallenwood, by Leslie Soule book coverGenre: Fantasy
Publisher:  Melange Books
Published: 2011
Reviewer Rating: two stars (four stars)
Reviewer: David L. Felts

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I’ve always enjoyed stories about people crossing over into some sort of magical realm. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Chronicles of Narnia, Eye of the Storm, Silverlock… just to name a few of many. So the blurb on Fallenwood piqued my interest.

Ash, a normal 20 something woman from earth ends up in a land where magic is the life force, dragons are sages, and wizards good and evil battle for supremacy. She is, of course, the Key to it All.

Cool.

But it seemed like a lot to cover for so thin a volume. That didn’t end up being the main issue though, and to best describe the challenges I had with Fallenwood, I’ll digress to an analogy.

I’m not much of a sports spectator, but my daughter got into volleyball at a young age. She went on to play college level, but even when she was starting out, I enjoyed watching her play. She had no idea what she was doing, wasn’t very good, and shoot around the court like a rocket with all thrust and no vector (just like most of her teammates).

None of that diminished the obvious passion she had for playing, the enjoyment and excitement of being on the court (albeit tempered with some frustration about her skills not developing as fast as she wanted).

Is was that positive energy that was so much fun to watch. Later, the skill matched the passion, and that was a real treat. But that took a while.

That’s how I feel about Fallenwood. As a story, it’s just not that good. The pacing is off, it’s in dire need of editing (despite its short length it has whole sections that add nothing to the story), it’s often too colloquial, the writing is frequently clunky… but there’s an obvious passion that shines through all this that kept me going. Soule was having a lot of fun and I enjoyed watching her play.

It’s not all bleak amateurishness. As a main character, Ash was well-developed and had depth; she was more than just a transplant from our world. She brought along personal struggles she needed to overcome in order to help and had to quickly learn how to get by in a world she didn’t know existed.

Bear in mind all this was processed from my adult perspective. To a child, say someone around 8 – 12 (for whom this story would be a fine fit) the things that feel short for me probably wouldn’t be noticed. And it’s not overly graphic or violent, although it does deal with death and suicidal thoughts.

For someone in that age range, it would likely be an easy and enjoyable read, and not just for the pleasure of watching Soule enjoy herself on the court.

Read it if you want to have fun watching someone else having fun, or pass it along to young child you’re trying to get into reading fantasy. Two stars for adult, four for twelve and under.

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