You never want to ruin a really good dramatic exit. When you flee home on a cyborg horse the exact second you turn eighteen, you don’t really expect to go back to the place you fled from, you know? But sometimes your old life hits you from behind.
Sometimes you spend years away from home, killing dangerous people who had the bad luck to get infected by a lungful of ghostfog, only to find out that your dad, the king, is dead, and now your siblings are ordering you back home for a high stakes family reunion.
But when the heirs are quadruplets, the line of succession tends to get a wee bit murky. So in order to regain your independence, you’ve got to navigate a deadly web of intrigue, where every sibling wants your allegiance, and any decision might tear your country—and your family—apart.
The Fall Is All There Is accomplished something that few books have managed. It made me think differently. Think differently about genre, differently about world-building, and question what I thought I enjoyed most in my reading. It’s rare to find a book that can truly surprise me like this. This book is fresh, inventive, quirky, instinctive, and witty. Set in a genre-bending world – think dystopian sci-fi, steampunk, weird west, with shades of grimdark political court intrigue – filled with some of the most unique and downright strange ideas I’ve read. Truly creative.
The author throws the reader into his world and story with reckless abandon. There’s no hand holding here. It’s a wild ride (on cyborg horses) to figure out where (on earth?) we are and what is going on through the chaotic POV of the main character. Petre is autistic. The author brilliantly illustrates the social awkwardness, the misunderstandings with social queues and discourse, of someone with autism. This felt authentic, executed with empathy and well-balanced humour throughout.
Through Petre we are introduced to a unique dystopian future world, filled with ‘corpse technologies’ that have been reimagined from long dead tech and combined with living matter – see cyborg horses and weapons powered by thyroid hormones. There are clockwork anatomy augments and replacements. Then there are the ‘Gaunts’ – people infected by the fog that contains the ghosts of the dead. It’s a truly graphic world, brought vividly to life by the snappy, visceral writing. Evocative prose also lends to the intensity of the blistering dialogue that is brimming with vehemence, sarcasm, and wit, particularly between Petre and his siblings. The dynamics between characters is outstanding. I especially enjoyed the final quarter of the book, which was break-neck, and also focuses on the relationship of Petre and one of his brothers, Desmon, which I found compelling.
So, you may ask, is it fantasy? Is it sci-fi? Dystopian? Steam punk? Who really cares? It’s all and none of the above; it’s pointless to try to pigeonhole this book within a specific genre. This, for me, is why self-published authors are at the cutting edge of SFF literature right now. What it certainly is, is a must read. So, sit back and enjoy this wild ride – preferably on a cyborg horse, waving your ‘science-sword’ in the air. I loved it and cannot wait for more!
Thank you for taking the time to read my review.