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REVIEW: And Falling, Fly by Skylar White

Dear Ms. White:

And Falling, Fly Cover by Skylar White cover imageI am a reluctant paranormal reader these days. Everything seems so common that it’s hard to generate excitement.   This book came to me on the recommendation of someone whose previous recommendations had worked out for me and so I took a chance. I was so glad that I did.   This is a curious and interesting mix of philosophy and myth which takes it a step beyond the ordinary paranormal.    I wondered, at times, if it was inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

I do want to state out front that I am not sure why there is any mention of steampunk surrounding the marketing of this book.   Brass fittings and mechanical gadgets do not a steam punk make. Steampunk is a specific ouvre and using the term to describe this book is misleading and might lead to reader disappointment.   //rant over

Now that I have that out of my system, let me address the book directly.   It is atmospheric with some gorgeous prose.

"We are all broken, Dominic, all of us-’cursed, or damned. Our fragile minds cannot span the paradox. We wish to stand out and fit in, to be unique but not alone, one with God and still ourselves."

I am going to be purposefully vague because  the way in which the story unfolds is part of the beauty.   The story is told in alternating POVs, first person from the female’s POV and third from the male’s POV.

Oliva is a fallen angel and, like all fallen angels, feeds off the blood of humans. All the vampires are the female progency of the Angel of Desire, cursed only to feel vicariously through human blood. The vampires have quills in their nails and teeth to allow for blood gathering. She is searching for a way back to heaven and believes that if she can find a man who would love her, quills, wings, and all, she can escape her curse.

Dominic is a Reborn, an ancient cursed to reincarnate every 30 or so years. In early adolescence, the reborn begin to recover their memories of their past life and generally it drives them crazy. Of course, the worst thing for a reborn is to suicide because they will relive their suicide every time they are reborn.

Dominic doesn’t belief he is cursed but mentally ill.   In this life he is a neuroscientist who is determined to discover the way to isolate memories and obliterate them.   A wealthy woman agrees to donate money to his university on the basis to further his research. She is desperate for a cure for her granddaughter who believes that she is a vampire.

Dominic posits that traumatic events can cause people to believe that they are vampires or reincarnated individuals and that if the root cause of the event can be isolated and erased, the psychosis would be cured.

"Now this isn't neuroscience, just psychiatry, but let's take, for example, an outgoing, imaginative child who believes in monsters," Dominic extemporized. "Maybe this girl is involved in a traumatic car accident. Her parents are killed, and she is thrown from the car." Now he had Madalene riveted. "The child recovers physically, but the emotional pain is so severe that she begins to dissociate. She might pretend to be incapable of suffering." Madalene nodded encouragement. "The girl might start to believe she's a monster and responsible, somehow, for the death of her parents."

Madalene was pale, and even dull Harold looked alert. Dominic's rogue imagination stretched itself. "The little girl, guilty and frightened, remembers being thrown from the car and the taste of blood, and she imagines herself a powerful, flying, insensate monster."

"A vampire . . ." Madalene whispered.

"Sure," Dominic took the suggestion readily. "This confabulation, tied to a trauma-related identity disruption, could become so foundational to her self-image that she might lose her ability to taste food. She starts sleeping in a coffin, develops a phobia of mirrors or crosses or wooden stakes, and becomes immune to physical pain, all in service to this explanatory story that helped her escape intolerable suffering as a child."

Dominic and Olivia meet in L’Otel Mathillide in Ireland. It’s an underground hotel for the damned: the vampires, the reborns, and every other type of “paranormal” being. But is it a hotel for the damned or a rehab center? Is it the portal to Hell where beings seek and may find redemption? Olivia’s own mental state reminded me of an addict desperate to be free of her addiction yet helpless to find a cure.

While the story makes it clear that it is a paranormal or urban fantasy, there is the underlying question of whether the curse of vampirism, reincarnation, etc. is really the product of someone mentally ill. The overarching story arc is that what you believe you want may never make you happy. Dominic wants to lose his memories but if he does so, he’ll forget Olivia and everything that she meant to him. Olivia wants to return to heaven but given the opportunity, she must abandon what she found with Dominic. I’m not sure what awaits me in the next White book, but I’m anxious to find out what it is. For those romance readers who want to know about the happy ever after ending: There is a solid HEA for Dominic and Olivia. B

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

17 Comments

  1. Sandy James
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 05:26:46

    Ms. White was the winner of my local RWA chapter’s Indiana Golden Opportunity contest with this story. I didn’t get to judge her entry, but I was thrilled to see she’d sold the book. Definitely looking forward to reading it now!

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  2. Tamara Hogan
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 06:58:42

    “… there is the underlying question of whether the curse of vampirism, reincarnation, etc. is really the product of someone mentally ill.

    I love this type of ambiguity in a story. Sounds intriguing.

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  3. DS
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 07:12:46

    I had a feeling the interest in steampunk that showed up a year or so ago was not going to bode well. I wonder how many books got retrofitted with “Brass fittings and mechanical gadgets”?

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  4. TKF
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 09:19:55

    “… there is the underlying question of whether the curse of vampirism, reincarnation, etc. is really the product of someone mentally ill.

    I love this type of ambiguity in a story. Sounds intriguing.

    I guess I'm missing how there can be ambiguity? If the vampires have physical manifestations (quills) that come out of their body and allow them to drink blood, it can't really be dismissed as their being mentally ill, can it? This is one of the reasons I don't read a lot of paranormal romance, cause I get tripped up by stuff like this.

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  5. Jane
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 09:28:32

    @TKF: Olivia believes she has quills but the suggestion is that her belief is simply a result of her pyschosis. She doesn’t really have quills. She may drink blood, but she doesn’t need it to sustain herself. She does it because it is part of her psychosis.

    Dominic suggests that behavior like Olivia’s is a the result of a trauma induced psychosis which results in a person truly placing mind over matter. I.e., the inability to feel pain, sensation only when drinking blood, etc.

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  6. Arianna Skye
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 10:32:37

    I had the opportunity to judge this book in the Molly contest a couple years back. I absolutely loved what I read. I am so glad that I can now read the entire story.

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  7. TKF
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 10:38:51

    @Jane:

    Except a physical manifestation is something you can verify. If the hero doesn’t bother to check (which would be the only reason it could remain “ambiguous”), then this plot point equates to a Big Misunderstanding (the ever irksome “argh, one conversation could have solved the whole thing”).

    Great cover though.

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  8. Maili
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 10:56:45

    In spite of my current aversion towards vampires these days, this intrigues me. Does the story take place entirely in Ireland? Thank you.

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  9. Sherry Thomas
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 12:47:28

    Skye is a member of my local RWA chapter. I’m going to her book launch party Friday night. Am very excited.

    ReplyReply

  10. An
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 15:53:43

    But the quills could be a form of body dismorphia.

    Just think of a person who suffers from anorexia and thinks that they are fat when they weigh almost nothing. That’s an extremely warped view of their own body.

    The quills probably come and go as they are needed too. I haven’t read the book, but it sounds like the author is clever enough to not get stuck in that particular rut.

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  11. TKF
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 17:24:27

    But the quills could be a form of body dismorphia.

    Body dismorphia is IN YOUR HEAD. The quills are a PHYISCAL manifestation. Jane, can you clear this up for us? I'm curious, because the book sounds good, but I really don't want to invest time and money in a “Big Mis” book.

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  12. Byford
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 20:49:19

    @TKF:

    If the hero doesn't bother to check (which would be the only reason it could remain “ambiguous”), then this plot point equates to a Big Misunderstanding (the ever irksome “argh, one conversation could have solved the whole thing”).

    Hehe, that’s what’s been making me crazy about four years of ‘Lost’! “For the love o’ Pete, ask FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS!” ;)

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  13. Jane
    Mar 05, 2010 @ 07:09:19

    @Byford & @TKF – Dominic never treats Olivia. They just meet up in hell/recovery. The issue of the quills is something for the reader to decide. As I stated in my review, I felt that this was clearly a paranormal or urban fantasy but that there was enough ambiguity to make you think about it twice.

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  14. TKF
    Mar 05, 2010 @ 09:33:34

    @Byford:

    I gave up on Lost early in season two for that same reason. I wasn’t convicned the writers even had a plan (and I’m still not, judging by the adverts).

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  15. Kelly L.
    Mar 05, 2010 @ 10:06:45

    That, and even if Dominic observed the quills in “Hell,” there is still the question of whether he’s in his right mind himself. He does observe fangs on one of Olivia’s sisters but we don’t know for sure if he really saw them or if he’s hallucinating. (Or if Ophelia’s fangs are fake, though they don’t seem to be.) It helps if you think of both narrators as unreliable! :)

    ReplyReply

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    Mar 17, 2010 @ 14:09:19

    [...] AND FALLING, FLY, Skyler White AND FALLING, FLY is a first novel that’s really hard to define–it’s part dark fantasy, part love story, and completely original. On the surface it’s a story about vampires and fallen angels, but dig a little deeper and what you find is infinitely rich and complex. What I do know is that AND FALLING, FLY clearly announces the arrival of a bold new talent. (We reviewed it here). [...]

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