Book: and Falling, Fly
Author: Skyler White
Rating: 3.5 Stars
The most striking aspect of “and Falling Fly” is Skyler White’s language, which is simply put…artful and graceful. It highlights the rift between the mythical and the contemporary realms, it gives succor to the ethereal mood that is ever present from start to finish, and it poignantly illuminates the heartrending relationship between its two main characters as they journey the corridors of Hell. But in many instances this same beautiful language works against the fragile foundation of the plot and tears it apart like tissue paper.
As other reviewers have mentioned, “and Falling, Fly” is a challenging read, mainly because of its presentation, and what White is actually presenting to her readers…some very thought provoking ideas about reality, continuity, sacrifice, science, love, and the existence of God and Hell. These philosophical battles slow the pace down considerably while wondering is the real quest for truth the only tangible issue pushing the plot…or has it been character angst all along?
In a world where the masses have mostly forsaken God and forgotten the Devil, what are the damned, the cursed, and the Reborn to do? Are they still Damned? Are they Damned because they choose to be that way? Do their immortal lives have any meaning anymore? Has Hell lost its meaning?
This cultural sea change has led some of Hell’s ilk to believe that they were never damned or cursed to begin with or at least question the roots of their damned nature. In this, White has managed to recombine the eternal debate between age-old mysticism warring with science and reason. And she has drawn her readers into the battle. At the end of book, you will definitely question over and over again whether the characters were really damned begin with. And wonder if you had imagined it at all. Have we been tricked? Maybe.
Her debate rages between two very distinct characters: Dr. Dominic O’Shaughnessy, a neurosurgeon and a scientist as well as being one of Hell’s ilk: a Reborn. Cursed to live, die, and remember his past lives and loves, Dominic is plagued by incessant memories. He would do anything to “forget” and his scientific research is solely targeted towards that goal. He believes that his “recollections” are nothing more than chemical conjurations of his brain. He refutes and questions his life. He does not believe he is a “Reborn” and does not believe in vampires, or any of Hell’s dominion.
Olivia White is a Damned, a vampire, a fallen who has waited her entire mortal life for the fulfillment of a loophole that will enable her to ascend back to Heaven. Until then she is cursed to live a life without feeling, with physical and emotional sensation, and to gain sustenance through the feelings, mainly fear and desire of others. She is convinced she is Damned-until meeting Dominic. Will he be the one to free her? Is he her loophole? What is her sacrifice in return? The interplay between Dominic and Olivia is haunting and pricks at you in subtle ways.
I cannot express that though extremely challenging to get through, these ideas…the characters have stayed with me, have been looping in my mind for days after turning its last page. I was left with more questions than answers. What exactly is Skyler White trying to impart? That life is mere savagery without love, sacrifice and salvation? That love can set a soul free? Whatever you take away from this novel, know that it is not a novel you are likely to ever forget for its unsurpassed uniqueness, and its affecting presence.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review