BookBrowse Reviews Fallen Land by Taylor Brown

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Fallen Land

by Taylor Brown

Fallen Land by Taylor Brown X
Fallen Land by Taylor Brown
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2017, 288 pages

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A young couple flees bounty hunters, renegades, and a terrible prophecy on horseback during the end of the Civil War.

The Fallen Land is a gritty, bone-chilling saga about a young couple struggling to survive against impossible odds during the wretched, sad last days of the Civil War (Patricia G).

This is a powerful book about the devastating effects of war. Not in a foreign land but in our own. Most of us think of the American Civil War as something that happened on the battlefields. We think of the great battles, Gettysburg, Appomattox, Sherman's March to the sea (see 'Beyond the Book'), at least I did before this book. Taylor Brown drills the war down to its most intimate details. He strips away the glory of warfare and gives voice to the suffering that was endured by soldiers, non-combatants and the land. This book also speaks to the undying human spirit (Jane N).

Readers appreciated the character development and underlying themes
The main characters were well developed and the author brings us into a frightening and heart-pounding flight to freedom of a young couple in the South, thrown together by circumstance (Mary Lou C). The character development is very strong, leaving no question as to the good, bad or ugly. This is a story of love and hate, ruthlessness and sadness, coupled with perseverance and tenacity (Elinor M). Although it is a book with rape, murder, and the many atrocities of war— it is actually a story of love and devotion, of attempting to overcome the worst. The plight of Callum and Ava, the two main characters, is gripping and beautifully written (Marcia S). It is, in part, a tender love story but one that is built on gristle, bone, heartless cold, and bitter revenge (Patricia G).

Many were impressed by the strong writing
Brown weaves his descriptive prose in a way that keeps the story moving at the steady pace of a war-deployed thoroughbred. The result is writing that fairly crunches like frozen scrub underfoot (Patricia G). Brown's short, but very descriptive sentences paints vivid pictures of the adversities cast upon the land and the people (Elinor M).

A few found the story rough to take
As beautiful as the prose is, I found it difficult to read because the story itself it so depressing. Yes, I am Southern, born and bred and yes, it does anger me that Sherman felt he had to destroy innocent women and children this way. Maybe that is what made this book so difficult to read. I'm afraid there was little redeeming about Callum and Ava - they were simply trying to survive the best they knew how and circumstances left them little choice at times (Carol N).

Readers felt the violence was relevant to the story
The writing is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, and yet in many ways this is a more powerful read. The writing is more poetic and the characters are more engaging, fleshed out (Ruthie A). The scenes of carnage and cruelty are stark and gory, awash in evil but devoid of the cartoon violence that is often featured in books and movies today. Fallen Land has been compared to Cold Mountain and the works of Cormac McCarthy. I would throw in a dash of True Grit for good measure to describe an exciting debut that promises great things to come (Patricia G). Fallen Land is a novel reminiscent of Cold Mountain in its honesty and brutality with an unforgettable story that follows the journey of young love during a most tragic time in our history (Pam L).

Recommended for book clubs
I would, without hesitation, recommend Fallen Land for book club reading and discussion (Elinor M). This would be a good book club selection for those interested in the final years of the Civil War (Mary Jane D).

This review was originally published in January 2016, and has been updated for the January 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Sherman's March To the Sea

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