The Fallen Land: A Novel
Author: Taylor Brown
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (2015)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback Edition: 274 Pages plus Conversation with the Author, Reader’s Guide. Reading List and other extras.
Source: Personal Copy
Wait and Want
The above headline appeared recently in relation to another type of literature. It seemed appropriate here. This is a story where the reader waits and waits with a young boy and a girl traveling through the rugged Mountain South ravaged by the Civil War and being chased by a group OF ugly, murderous marauders. Keep reading, waiting for something to happen; will they be injured, caught, will they lie down from hunger and exhaustion? The reader admires their survival tactics, their personalities, and waits and wants for something good to happen to them.
Many of the things that do occur are frightening, even horrible. And so the reader keeps on waiting and wanting, hoping through dense descriptions of the land. A noble horse named Reiver is a guiding light, the character who keeps hope alive for many pages.
Dense, descriptive and beautiful prose lead the reader to continue on the trail with Callum and Ava. “Trees grew sun-straight from the slanted ground to either side and they rode with their eyes cocked up the slopes for men lying in ambuscade. Highwaymen or irregulars or bounty hunters. Boulders and stones and scree fallen from either side littered the trail. The horse wended between these with high and careful steps. By noon they were descending the far side of the pass.”
I picked up this book when I was looking for a paperback, light to carry around with me. Two young people together in the wild during the last year of the Civil War, seeing the devastation from Sherman’s March caught my interest. It was, however, a hard read and a book that is hard to write about because the world as portrayed here is so difficult and cruel. The book clutched at me the same way the cold and hunger clutched at Ava and Callum. Late in my reading I discovered Brown was also the author of another book I read recently: The River of Kings. (See a previous comment)
Danger and destruction is a hallmark of this kind of fiction. If you like dark, this may well be the read for you. Think Cormac McCarthy and you will have an idea of what is in store for you as you read this book. It has been well-reviewed and recognized by Independent Booksellers.