Book Review: Black Fall by D.J. Bodden
Before I get into my review, can I just say that I love this cover? I'm a sucker for minimalist covers and color schemes, and this one just just perfect. The cover for White Winter (the second book in the series) is equally gorgeous. I will freely admit that it was the covers that first drew me to these books in the first place. But anyway, on to the review:
Black Fall has just about everything you could want in a paranormal/urban fantasy novel—badass monsters, unique spins on classic fantasy tropes, action that will keep you on the edge of your seat, clever (and sometimes dark) humor, and a whole cast of distinct and intriguing characters. The story follows teenager Jonas Black following the death of his father, but we quickly learn that his father may not actually be dead after all, and that Jonas’ parents—and Jonas himself—are not exactly your average human beings. As he comes to terms with his new identity and all that entails, he must defend himself from unseen enemies and try to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance, all while trying to keep his grades up and his very-human girlfriend happy.
I loved this book; it was such a fun read. The characters were fantastic, and despite there being so many of them, they were all distinct from one another with their own motivations, so I never really had a hard time keeping track of who was who. I loved them all. Jonas, who is completely believable and relatable as the book’s protagonist. The formidable Alice Black, who seems to be slowly falling apart since her husband’s disappearance. Bert and Phillip, Jonas’ father-and-son werewolf bodyguards who are constantly bantering (or bickering). Eve, a recently-turned young vampire who, despite having a good heart, seems to harbor a lot of anger and resentment. Cook/hunter Jim, who only appears for a short time but has a tragically horrific backstory. Zombie receptionist Doris, who is never, ever to leave the lobby—and for good reason. I could go on; they’re all fantastic.
I think my favorite part of the book was the whole concept of mind-control and mind-defense. Vampires having the ability to read minds is something I’ve seen in a few stories before, but never quite like this, and never developed so extensively. Watching Jonas build and refine his mental defenses was so interesting and so much fun, and the final battle was impressive and exciting to read. More importantly, it felt like an appropriate culmination of everything Jonas had learned and made for a fantastic climax.
The main plot is interesting. It shifts around a bit as new information is revealed, but that seemed appropriate for the story. The ending (or the epilogue) felt just a little abrupt for me. Although I realize there is more to come as this is a series, I kind of wished there had been just a little more resolution at the end, or at least a little more reflection from the characters, particularly in regards to the whole issue with Jonas’ father. I also thought the book could have used another round of editing. There weren’t any major issues, but I did encounter several extra commas, missing words, and other minor punctuation errors that could have been easily cleaned up. Nevertheless, this was a fantastic story with a compelling setting and characters, and I look forward to seeing what happens next in White Winter.