Fallen by Traci L. Slatton
Five months earlier, the mists started rising from the Earth. They corroded all metal – including the metal naturally found in human bodies. When a person had contact with the strange, cloudy white mists, that person would erode painfully away. Nothing could reverse the process that could take hours. No one could help because the helper couldn’t avoid the mist enveloping the first one if he tried to save the one caught.
Emma and her five-year-old daughter Mandy had been able to escape the mists. They were visiting in Paris when the mists started, separated from her husband and older daughter back in Canada. Emma started collecting other children as they avoided the mists and tried to survive. Now Emma and eight children are in the deserted French countryside, scavenging for any food they can find. They need more, though.
When Arthur and a band of men from his camp rescue Mandy from the mists, Emma takes her chance. She makes a deal with Arthur for the children and herself to be taken to the camp, too. It is a safer place to live than roaming around with the nasty gangs that are gathering. Small groups like her own are no longer safe from their fellow man.
Until Emma and her group arrive, the camp only has men. They have a doctor who was a dermatologist Before and now does what he can with the few medical supplies they have. While the mists kill people, they also changed something elemental. Many people start having new abilities – able to see the future, able to find safe spots, or other powers still to be discovered. Emma has gained the power to heal with her hands. She can lay her hands on someone and take away pain. As her skill grows, she is able to stop bleeding until the person can be stitched up, and heal cracks in bones. She and the children are able to earn their way into the community.
More people join them as the word spreads. But theirs isn’t the only group forming. Everyone knows to avoid the men in red capes. A group of women keep separate from Arthur’s camp although the two groups keep in communication. The is a Russian man leading a group of nomads.
There are secrets being kept. Arthur refuses to talk or think about Before. Some of the other men allude to things Arthur has done. Emma doesn’t tell Arthur she is married and she’s fairly sure her husband and daughter are alive in a safe zone rumored to be in Canada. The two of them grow closer as they spend more time together. Those secrets, though, will drive them apart.
I was pulled into Fallen from the first few pages. Traci L. Slatton’s apocalyptic world seems eerily possible. No one knows why the mists appeared. Yet they have ravaged the buildings and metal objects in the world and killed billions of people. How does a person fight a monster like that?
The book is mostly written in Emma’s first person voice, but occasionally switches to a third person to describe brief scenes where she isn’t present. Emma is a practical person, doing what she has to to keep herself and her children alive. Both Emma and Arthur’s characters are complex, unfolding slowly as their relationship does.
Fallen is billed as the first of a trilogy. After Emma learns some devastating secrets, she separates from Arthur despite the love she has developed for him. Now the reader has to wait to see what will happen next to her, Arthur, and Mandy.
This is not a girly romance. Slatton has written an apocalyptic novel with a romance built in – like most good stories should have.
Fallen is excellent. I’ll have to watch for the sequel.
Notice: Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations
Publicist provided for review