Jen reviews The Fall Is All There Is, the first book in C.M. Caplan‘s series, the Four of Mercies.
As a disclaimer, I should mention that the author has entered this one in SPFBO but this review has nothing to do with the blog group that the book fell into. I read this a while ago and I’m just slow as molasses getting it set up to post. Of course, if it happens to be lucky enough to get to finals, then I will be happy because it will be one less book for me later, but for now, I have nothing to do with its chances of getting to that point.
|Four of Mercies #1
|Fantasy cyberpunk genre blend
|Date of Publishing:
|November 7, 2022
|violence, drugs, gore
You never want to ruin a really good dramatic exit. When you flee home on a cyborg horse the exact second you turn eighteen, you don’t really expect to go back to the place you fled from, you know? But sometimes your old life hits you from behind.
Sometimes you spend years away from home, killing dangerous people who had the bad luck to get infected by a lungful of ghostfog, only to find out that your dad, the king, is dead, and now your siblings are ordering you back home for a high stakes family reunion.
But when the heirs are quadruplets, the line of succession tends to get a wee bit murky. So in order to regain your independence, you’ve got to navigate a deadly web of intrigue, where every sibling wants your allegiance, and any decision might tear your country—and your family—apart.
“Whatever happened last night probably killed a few people. Would’ve made a ton of ghosts. There will be a lot of newly infected Gaunts in the coming days. It happens during any mass casualty event. We’ll be fine as long as we keep our masks on.”
“Right,” Desmon said through a clenched jaw. “Terrific. Can do.”
We moved through the ghostfog as the almost-shapes of lives long lost failed to finish forming. White smoke-souls made the world a vague haze.
Typhoons by Royal Blood
I have been seeing The Fall Is All There Is around Twitter for a few months now and the cover intrigued me so much that I had to check out the sample – which I read exactly two paragraphs of and bought the book on that basis. Ultimately the story ended up being a mixed bag of things I loved, and things I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about.
The Fall Is All There Is was one weird blend of genres, and some of the stuff that happens – like the cyborg horse exploding (yes, it’s as messy as it sounds) just had me chuckling in its absurdity. I loved that about it! Who knew post-apocalyptic future cyber-fantasy could be so much fun? I also loved the extra little bit of creepy with the Ghostfog to really round out the weirdness of it all. It’s creative, unique, and just all-around cool.
Petre, after five years of being away, is asked to return home. All kinds of baggage comes with that request – his relationship with his family is messy as heck. Petre didn’t leave on good terms, mind you, he didn’t tell anyone he was leaving so it wasn’t really bad terms either, more like running away.
For the most part, I loved the voice of Petre. He is our window and through him, we learn about the world and his relationship with his siblings. He’s funny and relatable and sometimes his headspace can be quite chaotic.
Things I did wish to understand better – the politics; which felt a little vague at times. There are secrets galore and our POV doesn’t allow us answers to certain things, in part because Petre has been gone for so many years and in part because so much is tied to the relationships between the siblings themselves and we are just joining the chaos now.
Which brings me to the other thing I wished to understand better – the dynamics of their relationships. There’s a whole subtext of years of accumulated mental and physical wounds between these now grown kids, that have built-up into these mixed-up feelings of hurt, and anger in their love of each other (just like any family) but we aren’t privy to most of these events that caused this automatic distrust of the others’ intentions, or the need to try constantly outthink each other.
So as much as I enjoyed Petre, I sometimes wished for other POVs because it felt that we are just left on the outside looking in, wondering why they are being such prickly jerks and the whole combination could be exhausting, and maybe just a little too real and similar to me and my siblings, because I found myself getting annoyed with them- their arguments and the occasional pettiness, and I just wanted to be able to slam the door in their face or something equally petty myself.
Anyway, frustrations at family relations aside – my favourite sibling ended up being Desmond. This had a lot to do with this huge blow-up he had at Petre where we got to hear a little of his feelings about what growing-up together was like. I found this very refreshing as most of the rest of the time it was all very one-sided. (Can you tell I am the mediator of our family?) It could very well be that we get more in-depth into all their relationships as the series progresses too. I hope so because they’re definitely a quirky bunch.
The Fall Is All There Is, has a lot going for it. It’s a nutty, chaotic story at times and I’d say that it is more about family and navigating the relationships between the siblings, than who is in line to be the next successor. And yes, there were things I personally felt could use some fleshing out but the story on the whole is just a lot of crazy fun.
Seriously, I mean, how many stories open by saying that their mom threatened to sew their mouth shut, and they actually meant it? Like, for real?
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