Fallen Land: A Novel
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Behind us lay Atlanta, smoldering and in ruins, the black smoke rising high in air, and hanging like a pall over the ruined city. A hundred fires, a thousand. Every last thing ablaze save a single mountain of bald stone upon which great mirrored flames reeled and surged, the city below it thrust heavenward in snarling fury, in leaping spires and spits of flame, a fortress raised up in terrible light. Massive stacks of torn-up rail ties were piled, smoldering, as far as they could see in both directions.
Blue towers of smoke hung over them, and where the tracks curved out of sight, yet more smoke spiraled out of the trees…. This is the backdrop of Fallen Land. It takes us half the book to get here, but everything that comes before is marching toward this moment, then beyond it to the sea. The protagonist, Callum, a year-old seasoned horse thief, is fleeing a band of marauders out to collect the bounty on his head after his suspected involvement in a murder while rescuing Ava—a teenaged girl who could do just fine without him, but would rather be with him than alone.
Both orphans of the war, the two find fast kindred spirits in one another and must lean on each other through gunshot wounds, sexual assault, and a slew of near-death encounters, until their only remaining hope is to lose the bounty hunters in the ruination, wreckage, and violence that is the Burning of Atlanta and the subsequent March to the coast, where Callum says he has family that might take them in.
Readers will enjoy that both main protagonists are equal and well-fleshed out and that Ava is no cardboard stock figure who exists merely to be a love interest. Beneath every line, there is humanity. Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers.
In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives. Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown. From the publisher. Site by BOOM.
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Oh, and what a horse! View all 11 comments. Oct 27, Linda rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , favorites , first-reads , giveaways. I received a copy of Fallen Land through Goodreads and St. Martin's Press. I wish to thank them for the opportunity. Fallen Land is in the vein of Cold Mountain. To parallel a debut book with the likes of that stellar novel is quite the achievement for Taylor Brown.
Fallen Land focuses on the devastation, the tragedies, the brutalities during the Civil War. Brown's writing brings the severely destructive human losses to the forefront. And his words take you there. No badges, no uniforms. He wanted to ask what peace might be gained if they hovered here longer in the mist, did not mount and ride. But they always did. Callum, a fifteen year old with nary a whisker, has arrived from Ireland. He finds himself in the South and with an uncanny talent for stealing horses. This is an asset for the rag-tailed marauders he soon becomes part of. The profound goodness that is within Callum becomes apparent when he steps forward to protect a young abandoned girl in her cabin from the unsavory intentions of one of their own.
Callum is wounded and Ava nurses him back against incredible odds. Their bond is an unspeakable pact. Taylor interjects incident upon incident that takes Callum and Ava across the annihilated landscapes of the South. If they can only get to Georgia, they may be safe with some distant cousins of Callum's. The impact of this treacherous journey visits them time and time again. And the jewel that they find in their midst is the resilience of the beautiful horse, Reiver, who continues to give his all to his young master, Callum. I found Fallen Land to be a novel of the heaviness of loss and the triumph of gain and, realistically, with an imbalance of both.
Taylor Brown has the talent to paint with the broad strokes of the tragedies of the Civil War and then finetunes it with the specific actions of Callum and Ava. You'll find these characters having taken residence within your mind and heart long after. View all 25 comments. Dec 04, Jen rated it really liked it. What would you do with a bounty on your head? It's the end of the civil war. Man is corrupt from hunger and exhaustion.
But it's not over yet. A boy tries to defend a girl from being raped. He gets concussed and dragged away. Now, he's on a mission to find her, to care for her and to take her away from the evil that now haunts this barren land. The cost? A bounty on his head, they are hunted relentlessly. Fallen Land is an epic story of love, loyalty and the twisted fate of humans and wh What would you do with a bounty on your head? Fallen Land is an epic story of love, loyalty and the twisted fate of humans and whom they become once war marches in.
Callum, a chivalrous 15 year old, falls for 17 year old Ava. Together they journey to the south during the last year of the civil war fighting off bandits, fatigue, hunger, angry cavalry and a one armed bounty hunter.
View all 32 comments. Nov 21, Jennifer rated it really liked it Shelves: books , historical-fiction. Along the way, Callum and Ava encounter a land and people devastated by the war. The trees all gone, all these irons dug up from the ground. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.
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Certain passages were so beautiful, and I loved the story line over all. However, there were times when I found my mind drifting. Other reviewers have said Brown was "trying too hard". I'll have to agree to an extent. And while I enjoyed the story, I would have loved to see more interaction between Callum and Ava and less descriptions of the landscape. I vacillated between a 3 and 4 star rating for this one, but landed on a 4 because I have a soft spot for Civil War stories.
I remain in awe of what our country went through, and how primitive the conditions were for those traveling through the South at the time. Callum and Ava's story sounds like it wouldn't have been out of place in the 's instead of the 's.
Fallen Land by Patrick Flanery
Martin's Press for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Sep 14, Sandra rated it it was amazing Shelves: debut , netgalley , arc , from-publisher , Brown writes beautiful, almost lyrical and very descriptive prose. You cannot help but fall in love with Callum and Ava, their horse Reiver, and even the surroundings.
Set amid the war-ridden lands during the Civil War, Callum has a bounty put upon his head after rescuing Ava from a lesser fate. They flee, being hunted down. Everywhere they turn there is danger, destruction, starvation, and death. The only thing that keeps them together is their want to be together and survive. And they are only Brown writes beautiful, almost lyrical and very descriptive prose.
And they are only 15 and 17 year old. He did not want to close his eyes. The world had drawn down on him, the sky tattooed with death. Spiraling, spiraling. Everywhere a corpse.
Fallen Land by Patrick Flanery – review
There were some graphic parts, and very moving parts. That lump in a throat feeling. He knew the falling land was telling him something, and the message yearned in his throat to be spoken. But he would not speak it. Could not. Taylor Brown, we've got a problem. I can't keep my hands of you View all 5 comments. I really wasn't sure I wanted to read this when I read the synopsis but I decided to give it a go based on the reviews I'd seen.
I almost put it aside but with so little left I thought I'd go ahead and finish it. I felt like this was a good novel that was trying to hard to be a brilliant one.
The descriptions distracted me from the story. I didn't need to know what every leaf looked like and how eve I really wasn't sure I wanted to read this when I read the synopsis but I decided to give it a go based on the reviews I'd seen. I didn't need to know what every leaf looked like and how every pebble sounded. I wanted more descriptions of Callum and Ava. I wanted more of them. Some of the encounters they had with people along their journey just felt weird and out of synch.
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I know a lot of people have and will like this but it just didn't work for me. View all 7 comments. Jul 25, Andria Williams rated it it was amazing. What a book!! An epic, gorgeous, thrilling, romantic story set during the final days of the Civil War. As perfect a novel as I have read this year. Callum, a young Irish immigrant, and Ava, orphan daughter of a doctor who perished in the war, flee Callum's pursuers he's wrongly accused of a murder across the charred and devastated landscape of post-Civil-War Atlanta and environs.
The writing is infallible, never faltering. The pace never s What a book!! The pace never slows and the story moves along effortlessly. There was never a place that I wished would speed up. At times, it's almost unbearably romantic. I am not a crier, BUT-- without giving any spoilers-- I was moved enough to wipe away tears around page There's no way I could recommend this novel enough: it's a work of art. Get out on the vanguard and read it now or, if that's not possible, add it to your To-Read list , and you'll feel mighty good about yourself when it gets a whirlwind of attention and readership come January.
View all 15 comments. Feb 17, Doug H - On Hiatus rated it it was ok. Is it safe to review this without getting hate mail yet? Many of my respected GR friends gave this 5 stars, so don't take my word for it, but I 'm strugglng with even giving it 2 stars. I thought the characters were cardboard cutouts and I found the plot completely unrealistic and based entirely on convenient coincidences. View all 10 comments. Nov 23, Laura rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , southern. I loved this book. I loved the descriptions and the intensity of the journey.
Say it ain't so, but Wow, I think I will be thinking of this book for some time. Well done Taylor Brown. You know it's a good book when it takes all, and I mean all, my will power not to read the epilogue. So well written. The reader gets so many vivid descriptions from the book that I felt myself remembering my own experiences such as I loved this book. The reader gets so many vivid descriptions from the book that I felt myself remembering my own experiences such as spending time in Western Carolina and the sands of St. Heck, I even got emotionally attached to the horse!
What author can do that? I hated horseback riding lessons as a kid! Loved from page one. Move this one on up on your list, read it sooner than later. View all 12 comments. Mar 17, MomToKippy rated it it was amazing Shelves: civil-war-era , adventure , appalachian. Oh my. I have to catch my breath. A trio on the run for their lives through the carnage of the Civil War. Callum, barely a man, you feel his light step, his chilled bones, the gnaw of starvation in his gut and his ever pervasive drive to endure.
Ava, a young woman, hardened by cruelty yet soft with child, a will of steel, intelligent and unwavering. Reiver, a majestic steed, you can feel the rippling of his muscle beneath the gleaming black hide, his fathomless strength and soaring spirit. All t Oh my. All three undaunted yet nearly destroyed by the relentless slaughter and near death at every turn. The raw beauty of the Blue Ridge in a riot of fall color shattered by death and destruction and war. The characters come to life, the scenery is spectacular, the prose is beautifully heart rendering at times and yet it is imperfect.
So be it.
I cried. Dec 14, The Shayne-Train rated it really liked it Shelves: netgalley. This book was beautifully-written, though a bit like really heavy cheesecake: delicious, but you can't really binge on it without feeling ill. It makes you slowly go through, reading in chunks, and afterwards you have to loosen your mind-belt and burp a few times and have a good think.
Set during the American Civil War my second favorite civil war, just short of the Marvel Superhero Civil War , it follows a hard-on-his-luck lad on his journey for The country is ripp This book was beautifully-written, though a bit like really heavy cheesecake: delicious, but you can't really binge on it without feeling ill. The country is ripping itself to bloody shreds all around him, and he's just trying not to get shot or starve to death. There is violence, vileness, and redemption in this book.
And the prose is so lovely. View 2 comments. Feb 22, Connie G rated it really liked it Shelves: north-carolina , historical-fiction , georgia. In this fast-moving story set at the end of the Civil War a couple is persued by a group of bounty hunters. Fifteen-year-old Callum and seventeen-year-old Ava love and support each other as they try to outrun the outlaws. Meanwhile, violence is rampant and Sherman's army is leaving Georgia in flames. It's worth reading the book just for the fabulous horse! I was impressed with Taylor Brown's writing in his first novel. It has been a while since the writing in a book is just so, so wonderful, so pitch perfect, that I found myself reading sentences, heck whole pages, just to read the wonderful prose again.
This is one beautifully written book. The attention to detail is astounding.