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Happy Valentine's Day? Er, not so much...
on 23 August 2012
Oh deary me. Billed as a romantic collection of love stories from Kate's Fallen universe (slotting in neatly between 'Passion' and Rapture'), for me this was the Valentine that didn't deliver. The date that brings you hazelnut chocolates even though you have allergies. The one who gives you a book of cuddly dog pictures even though you're a cat person. The one that tries, but somehow manages to completely and repeatedly miss the mark.
The lovely-as-ever cover pretty much sums up the premise with the tagline, 'A Fallen Novel in Stories'. The book is made up of four interlinking Valentine's Day tales, two of which were good, and two of which weren't so good (if Amazon allowed half-stars, I'd have given it a 2.5 star rating - half good, half bad!). The first, that of Shelby and Miles, was pretty good. They're such loveable and amusing characters already, and the story takes the spark we saw in 'Passion' and gently fans it into a sweetly romantic flame. The second, Roland's story, was a duff one for me. He's such a cool and confident character, it was a bit of a disappointment to see him turning into a fawning stalker over a girl from his past. Arriane's unexpected angel-demon lesbian love story was a pleasant surprise at first, until I realised that three pages in she, too, lost 90% of her humour and energy, and became some kind of melodramatic Wuthering Heights-esque wench instead. Finally we returned to Luce and Daniel, where the book picked up again with their familiar brand of true love, eternal longing, and grand romantic gestures (and the return of the deliciously acerbic gargoyle Bill). At least we started and ended on a high note, right?
Ultimately I think Kate made the same mistake here that she did in 'Passion' - she tried to tell too many stories in one book, and it ended up falling flat. I also can't understand divesting her most brilliant characters - the ones who offer light relief to counterbalance the intense romance of Daniel and Luce - of so much of their strength, humour and charm. Instead they get dragged down into heartbreak and overly dramatic confrontation, their tales becoming a jumbled torrent of clunky philosophy and highly-strung emotions. Not exactly a happy book for Valentine's Day! Oh, and one more thing - this quote bothered me: "Why, I was younger than Lucinda when I was a mother made... Seek happy nights to happy days..." Is it just me, or is that Shakespeare's Lady Capulet, then the Nurse, quoted pretty much word for word? This Romeo and Juliet fan was not amused.
I guess in the end, this is probably one of those books that you're better off reading for yourself. Personally, I was very disappointed, and would have been even more so had I splashed out on a hardback copy for some romantic Valentine's Day reading. I think it's more of an add-on to the series than a vital part of it (though I haven't read 'Rapture' yet, so please correct me if I'm wrong!) - perhaps it's one for die-hard fans only? Despite all this, I'm still really looking forward to Luce and Daniel's grand finale, where I've heard Kate is finally back on the top form she displayed in 'Fallen' and 'Torment'. Fingers (and wings) crossed!