Fallen by Traci L. Slatton is a dystopian novel set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been ravaged by a mysterious killing mist that has swept the globe.
Our opening scene of the novel describes how frightening the mists can be, with the mist attacking our main character’s daughter, Mandy. We are given a description of how they affect the human body, sending people insane and eventually turning them to sand:
If she moved into it, or if it moved to engulf her, it would kill her. Dissolve her from within, filling her mind with madness before blistering her cells with heat until she ruptured into steam and water droplets. All that would be left of her would be a splatter of water on the ground and a fine beige powder.
Mandy survives this mist because of the arrival of Arthur and his men, who have discovered that the percussion sound of horse’s hooves drives away the mist. This brings us to our main character, Emma, who is the caretaker for eight children she has gathered since the apocalypse hit, with only Mandy being her own.
Emma has been forced to fight for survival, so Arthur’s arrival gives her hope that his camp will be a safe haven for her and the children. In order to secure their safety she enters into an agreement with Arthur whereby she will sleep with him whenever he desires in return for shelter and food for the children.
Upon returning to the all-male environment of the camp it is clear that they need a woman’s touch, and Emma soon makes her mark on their way of life. She proves to be especially useful with her healing abilities that developed since the mists began, and she is not the only character who has developed unique paranormal skills.
Every day they must fight for survival, but supplies are running short and they are running out of towns to ravage. They hit a particular problem when medicine starts to run out, as the man that needs it is responsible for helping to rebuild their technology, trying to get a radio together to communicate with the other surviving regions.
Another problem comes in the form of Emma’s personal life. She is sleeping with Arthur to protect the children, but her husband and eldest daughter are in Canada, one of the few surviving areas of the world. She and Mandy are desperate to rejoin them, but Arthur is unaware that she has a husband and it becomes clear that he won’t take the news well when he finds out, as he is starting to fall for Emma.
As much as the beginning chapter of this book pulled me in, I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, as the plot wasn’t particularly strong and was more about the world building than anything else. Parts of the plot also felt far too convenient, such as one instance where one of the children whose mental age had reverted to that of a four year old due to the trauma suddenly became themselves again after being spoken to harshly.
I also highly disliked the two main characters. Emma is sleeping with Arthur to protect the children, which could be understood given the circumstances, but her feelings for her husband are barely touched on during the novel, with very little guilt being mentioned. Arthur was definitely not a good love interest in my eyes, as he takes advantage of Emma and tries to order her around, going so far as to tell her to wear dresses instead of trousers so it’s easier for him to sleep with her. There was also one sex scene in which I thought that Arthur forced himself on Emma too much, not at all seeming like a romantic connection.
Overall I wasn’t pulled in to this book very much, as I didn’t connect with the characters and didn’t find the plot to be that interesting. I also felt that the writer had included too many characters, as I was starting to lose track of who all the children were, as well as the many male members of the camp. I did like the idea of the mist however, and thought that this was a creative idea for a post-apocalyptic novel.
This book didn’t particularly excite me, as the characters weren’t people I could associate with or feel any sympathy towards. The mists were threatening and the dystopian world was well-explored, but the ending plot twist was predictable and not as exciting as I could have hoped.
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