... In a way, Jared thinks, it's like he and Jessie
are the last two people on Earth ...
Publisher: YAP Books, an imprint of Haverhill House Publishing LLC
Publication: October 16, 2022
Cover design & setup: © 2022 Errick Nunnally
A digital copy was provided by award-winning author John McIlveen (Hannahwhere 2015) for an honest review alongside my proffered thank you for asking ~
John McIlveen had asked me to review this tale from Julia Rust and David Surface somehow knowing it had been a while since I have read a coming-of-age tale.
Glad he did. I have not read any works from these authors and I found out this story is full of mystery, family love, soul searching, and secrets.
Folks, this tale from alternating point-of-view chapters from the characters, these authors will have you engrossed on a journey for fifteen-year-old Jessie Reed, as she discovers the consequences of wanting and needing, and trusting their gut. And, she's not the only one discovering things as the characters get introduced through this reading.
Sure, every young teen would want to have her parents stay together till the end of time, sure. Jessie is questioning her parents' marriage and is on the road with her dad to take care of an inherited house from Cousin Dorothy in the seaport village of Beauport while her mother stays behind in New York City.
She gets her hell scared right out of her at the end of chapter one ... though Angel Falls just might be the place she's looking for after all.
Angel Falls is a place governed by a strange and mysterious history of power that made it seem to me it held the town and its people hostage. Those who have actually experienced its powers and know first-hand are being taken care of by loved ones. Loved ones who dare not go into the wood that holds the falls. Jessie also finds out the falls are also governed by another enigma. Sixteen-year-old Jared Younger.
Those are his stompin' grounds.
Jared and Jessie meet one day, after (summer) school for Jared and from a bike ride for Jessie, Jared gives her the low-down on the falls and tries to cement the notion - DO NOT COME BACK HERE, you don't know your way around. It's just a heads-up. Yet, Jessie takes her own stance and will do what she wills. She tells the, "Boy."
Between these two characters' dialogue and their inner monologues, you can't help but enjoy them throughout their experiences. Especially with each other.
They both have their own personal family problems they're dealing with, trying to figure out how to fix things and have everyone happy and content. Especially them, so they don't have to work so damn hard on trying to feel normal. If you had the power to fix your family, wouldn't you? Jessie fixing her parents' marriage; Jared fixing his dad's depression?
In comes Mr. Chris Delany. Jared's summer school teacher.
The character of Mr.Delany folks, I mean, Mr.Delany meant good in all aspects of trying to see if one can actually come to the bottom line. Throughout the years, he taught Jared to read, and well, I'm figuring if he is going to give up his summer to these kids that have to go to summer school, I'm going to like this guy.
He loves putting Jared on the spot in class.
After an unexplained event at school that made Jared's eyes bulge, then another event, then another as the story continued, Jared starts to realize he might possess a power to make things happen. He fought with thoughts of not trusting Mr. Delany, but, Delany was laying out the evidence. It was looking like two and two are four. Tale continues with Jared starting to realize he might be in possession of such power and trusting his notion that, Jessie, also, just might possess this power.
Jessie's visceral feelings of not trusting Chris Delany are on full alert. Does Chris really want to help Jared or is there some type of payoff for him in the end? Was he vetted for his position? Does he really understand the falls power? Ah yes, the bottom line. As Jared and Jessie uncover secrets that lead to satisfying answers, Delany was a character I enjoyed reading.
As they persue their answers, supernatural ghosts make their decision making harder. Just as those characters grew through the tale, they also grew together on their quest. Folks, it was a dark path they traveled.
Folks, this a great read with real teenage compassionate characters and the growing up they do. The inner turmoil they went through with their feelings was expressed point on. Great writing describing such emotions, I'd say. As you read some of these passages you'll catch your head nodding up and down in agreement. Just as their self-reflections did in this tale. And, their Moxi is second to none in dealing with this supernatural force alive in the falls and the decisions they decide to make. Very good enjoyable read.
Speaking of characters:
Chris Delany's character was drawn in my mind as a Snidely Whiplash image. Every time he spoke, or looked, or ... I could see that grin of his. Jared's dad seemed so far out there in time, I pictured him as a mad painter even as if nothing else was going on in his life. Sitting there beside the ocean painting some vision he sees. A Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future gaze image. The lot of secondary characters were drawn out for me as that, secondary. For me, not really getting any flavor from them. Couldn't really see them, smell them, etc., though, they worked well for their role. The main characters were spot on as growth and color throughout, especially, at the end where they all bloomed. Even the characters that were called from the falls.
The pacing/timing was at a great speed for me once it got going and with the alternating chapters being melded together effortlessly, it was a read you wanted to know what was coming next. And those last few sentences at the end of the chapters, I applaud you both, Julia and David. Thank you. The story moves ~
The dread you guys produce for Jared and Jessie throughout this story was spot on and the atmosphere you created: the bothersome unease you created when they visited Miss Gardner and Pete, around the school, and the woods, I loved it, folks!
There are a lot of issues in this read that were touched on; pending divorce, falling in love, trust, self-reflection, lost love, family bonding, and horror, to name a few. A delicious tale to enjoy yourself with one weekend and find out how Jared and Jessie fair.
Damn right it gets one of my 4 Stars.
Shoot, I have a pocket full of them if the writing keeps me ~
Again, thank you YAP Books for this enjoyment
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Here's where you can get your fingers on Angel Falls:
- Amazon ~ Hardback $12.95 ~ Paperback $15.95 ~Kindle $6.99 ~ USD
- IndieBound ~ Support your local bookstores
About the authors:
Connect with Julia
Julia Rust is a writer and teaching artist from the Hudson River Valley in New York. With David Surface, she runs Veterans Writing Workshop, bringing free workshops to U.S. veterans and active duty military in the metro-NYC area.
She is the principal instructor for On the Homefront which offers memoir workshops for veterans’ family members in partnership with Poets & Writers and the White Plains Public Library and has served on the board of the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center.
She is also an actor, and Buddhist and can often be found stuck to the couch by a cat in her lap.
Connect with David
David Surface lives in the Hudson Highlands in a 160-year-old brick house that he shares with his wife, the author Julia Rust, and two cats, Howl and Greebo (named after Dianne Wynn Jones and Terry Pratchett characters).
David is the author of 'Terrible Things', a collection of short stories published by Black Shuck Books, and is co-author with Julia Rust of 'Angel Falls', a YA supernatural suspense novel from YAP Books, an imprint of Haverhill House Publishing.
His stories have appeared in genre publications including Shadows & Tall Trees, Supernatural Tales, Nightscript, Morpheus Tales, Twisted Book of Shadows, The Tenth Black Book of Horror, and Best Horror of the Year Volume 13, as well as literary journals such as North American Review, Crazyhorse, Fiction, Marlboro Review, and Doubletake.
A story co-authored with Julia Rust, ‘TallDarkAnd’, appears in the Swan River Press anthology, Uncertainties III. His stories have received long-list Honorable Mentions in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, Volumes 7 and 8, SFEditors Picks, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in fiction.
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