‘All Fall Down’ by Christine Pope

All Fall Down \ Image: Christine Pope

All Fall Down \ Image: Christine Pope

*Trigger warning. There is a sexual abuse aspect to this review. I’m discreet and respectful*

Where do you draw the line between a happy ending and a happy-ish ending? That is what I’m struggling with here today with All Fall Down by Christine Pope.

After reading Dragon Rose by Christine Pope by hopes were high for All Fall Down since it’s based in the same universe. I imagined another retelling of a fairytale with a happy ending that probably came close to the final pages for all the characters.

I was wrong.

Why Do “They All Fall Down?”

The story starts out at a decent pace but takes a slower turn once the main character, a healer named Merys Thranion is sold into slavery to a wealthy household. It picks up again once the core part of the storY centering on the outbreak of the plague kicks in and Mareys has to kick her training into high gear and try to save the entire household from a horrible death.

Realizing the villain was the plague I came to the unhappy realization that some characters I’d come to care for would die. That’s the nature of the beast when dealing with a story like this. It made for a very sad and lack of warm feeling story. Get the tissues ready if you plan on reading this one.

What bothered me the most?

The death and sadness didn’t bother me so much as Merys sudden romantic feelings for her master. The relationship felt a bit rushed and strange. It was almost like the author needed a romance in the book and decided why not have it be between slave and master.

There is a sexual abuse scene that happens between two slaves that can be a trigger for some and it was difficult to read. I don’t see the point in it other than to make a character out to be a villain. I’m not a fan of using sexual abuse as a plot device when there are so many other ways of doing it.

What Did I Like?

When I was first writing this review I was ready to give it nothing but a one-star review for making me feel so depressed. Then I took a step back and thought about the writing. Christine Pope took a subject like the plague and gave it a heroine. She took a subject as painful as the death of loved ones and put a religious spin on it that made it less painful and bearable for the living to think about. While I disagree with the subject matter and I can’t say this is a warm and fuzzy story, I can say this was a well-written story that takes the subject matter and makes it readable.

How happy of an ending is it?

Without spoiling the ending, it is a happy-ish ending. There is an element that makes you feel a little warm but to me, it’s not enough to make it a true happily ever after. It feels rushed and makes me wish it didn’t happen at all. It almost serves the characters no justice and in my opinion, they would have been better off without it.

I love Dragon Rose so I want to recommend this book but I can’t because of the lack of warm feeling after I was done reading it. I still plan to check out her other titles because I still love her writing, just this one was not for me.

If you want to check out All Fall Down to judge for yourself, pick it up on Amazon. It’s currently free with the other two books in the first of the three Latter Kingdom series.

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