Book Review: Fallen – by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus #10

Urban Fantasy

Ace Books; September 24, 2019

304 pages (ebook)

5 / 5 ✪

I was kindly furnished me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Berkley, Ace and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

SPOILERS – for the events of previous Alex Verus books, especially Marked!

Fallen is the tenth entry in the Alex Verus series, and while the story has definitely taken a darker turn, the future of the series has never looked so bright. Or, y’know, the final two books or so.

It took me roughly two days to read this—admittedly short novel—in which time I didn’t get much else done of value. I devoured Fallen like a Hawaiian pizza, digging through its bones (pizza bones) in the time it usually takes me to start getting into a story. Now, there are several reasons for this, but put quite simply: Benedict Jacka has really hit his stride. True, he had nine books to perfect it. True, he waited until quite near the end of his planned 12-book series. True, none of his books are all that long. But Jacka has nailed it in Fallen, which I can’t say enough about.

After the events of Marked, Alex is left in fear of a secret he has to keep at all costs. But also, he is in love. Finally having confessed his love for Anne, life has become livable for a time. Happy, even. But all things must change, and Alex has learnt this lesson enough to expect it.

For when the Council finds out—and they also seem to find out—Alex is forced to choose between the two most important things in his life: Anne, and the person he has spent his life trying to be. Turns out not to be much of a choice at all.

Fallen presents a much darker backdrop than many books before it. I know Bound was only two books prior, but Fallen puts it to shame. A dark, depressing read was not at all what I needed, particularly following right on the heels of A Little Hatred—but Fallen provides just enough hope to see its readers through, while immersing them in the tale in the way only a 1st PPOV run story can.

This features an immense cast of characters. With nine books building to this point, turns out there’re a lot to choose from. While the main cast has stayed pretty consistent recently—with Alex, Anne, Luna, Variam and Arachne leading the way—several factions and sides each have contributed their own. Allies and enemies both have turned over, Alex proving to be a dangerous man to consort with. And yet there are some prominent mainstays. Richard Drakh, Alex’s former master. Keeper Caldera, Alex’s once-partner, once-friend. Landis, Variam’s former master. The Light Council. The Dark Cabal. Supernatural creatures, mages, adepts and sensitives galore. Jacka always seems to sneak a few surprise cameos in, and Fallen is no exception.

The characters, especially their arcs, come to a head in Fallen. Alex’s own—which was by no means uneventful up to Book 10—absolutely takes off. A rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts. Tragedy, heartbreak and hope punctuate not only Alex’s own story, but those of his friends and allies. Even his enemies begin to show their human side; blurring what has always seem a good-evil battle for Alex’s soul.

It was the story that blew me away. Desperate, dark and thrilling—it was an electrifying read from cover to cover. The beginning (the first 10%) read the slowest, but the following 90% seemed to race by. Now, Fallen is only a 300-odd page book. Though few of the previous have been much longer. And, as with many of the Alex Verus series, it’s definitely worth a reread.

TL;DR

I loved Fallen. Best thing I’ve read this year, hands down. And if you’ve read the first nine Verus books, this one’s a no-brainer. It does not disappoint. In fact, I enjoyed it on so many levels, especially with the build-up the previous books began. Possessed of an thrilling story, deep recognizable characters, fantastic character development and growth, and a satisfying—if surprising conclusion—Fallen is all I wanted from the series and more. And with only (probably) two more Verus books beyond it, we’re boiling down to a truly epic conclusion.

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