“The Day the Angels Fell” by Shawn Smucker
Book: “The Day the Angels Fell” by Shawn Smucker
Published by Fleming H. Revell Company on 5th September, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 312 pages
Source: Revell (received for free in exchange for an honest review)
It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident. As he recalls the tumultuous events that launched a surprising journey, Samuel can still hardly believe it all happened.
After his mother’s death, twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life—the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?
I’d like to start by saying this book is formatted well; a black-and-white tree illustration corners the top of chapter pages, with black-colored pages illustrated with rain and feature a related quote on the back greets the parts pages (e.g. Part I, Part II, etc.). It reminds me of senior year in high school, working on the literary magazine; the theme was “roots”, and the editors worked together to find ways to incorporate the theme throughout the magazine. I worked on the CD portion and getting students whose submitted work was being published to sign copyright contracts.
It felt nostalgic. ANYWAYS.
The Day the Angels Fell gave me the impression that Smucker is a natural storyteller. I mean, storytelling is much of the book, so where would it be without it? But, told in a mix between past and present tense, in first-person point-of-view from main character Samuel Chambers as an elderly fellow, it reads smoothly.
Of course, this also means it’s easy to get bored—the story is steady, only returning to the present each chapter after a new part in the book. I liked the writing; I loved the preview of the sequel—and I’m so looking forward to it. It’s just super easy to fall into a slump with this book, feeling a little bored, because sometimes I wondered what was happening and how it was even pertinent to the story at hand.
I feel like I’m doing this backwards, because I usually write about the writing last. 😅 BUT I HAVE TO COMMIT TO THIS BACKWARDS ABC ORDER NOW.
I contemplated for a long while whether to add “Christian fiction” as a genre, because it it has the themes—Revell is a Christian publishing company—but opted out of it. The Day the Angels Fell contains biblical themes, but I think this book pushes boundaries of 1) the genre categorization as a whole for middle-grade age groups and 2) Christian fiction, because it doesn’t just deal with death or darkness or magic—it deals with death, and dark, blood magic. There is a lot of symbolism surrounding death and sacrifices. I don’t think this is a bad thing—I enjoyed reading this book more than when I attempted The Chronicles of Narnia, though my disinterest in that book is potentially tainted by my distaste for the author.
Smucker has created a piece of literature glaringly taboo at first glance, lest an open, willing mind is consuming it. It challenges the reader to consider death as not something dark, as well as temptation and how our selfishness can sometimes create more damage than healing. It’s unique and refreshing in that way. Also: symbolism; I love symbolism.
This is where things got weird.
The character develop is good—great, even, in many instances—but with the writing tenses and the story, it was hard to keep up at times with what was happening and what came of the characters. It’s a dark story, and I’m not familiar with the Bible enough to discuss the key variables of the myth (two cherubim guarding the Tree of Life), but the character from which the POV is told has quite odd, confusing development.
I can only help the sequel answers questions left unanswered in my head after reading this first novel in the series and that the character development of Samuel will improve…or perhaps, when I’ve time, I’ll read it again. I notice more when I consume media a second time.
Overall, I gave this 4/5 stars. Five stars is rare—I know, I’m so hard to please. It’s nothing against this book, because it was a great book; on a larger scale, I was left confused, and I know series are such because succeeding novels answer the questions, but I like important questions to be answered (can’t list ’em here because #spoilers).