Disney has optioned the rights to all four novels in the The Fallen World series, sales are in the millions, translations run to more than 30 languages, the first in the quartet topped The New York Times’ bestseller list for over a year, a free FALLEN BOOKS app can bring this book’s dust-jacket to life (and the author’s photograph, it says here). Things are on the grandest scale – when we talk Fallen World, we’re talking Genesis, Fallen Angels, Lucifer, and if not God Himself, then ‘The Throne’ stands in for Him. Books are prefaced with lines from Chaucer and Donne (maybe Milton made it earlier in the series). Somehow, I missed Fallen, Torment and Passion, so Fallen in Love was not a straightforward introduction for me, since no concessions of the old-fangled New Readers Begin Here kind are offered. Indeed, the whole framework of the Fallen World with its Angels, Demons and Nephilim, its Announcers (by which characters pass through Time and Space), and references to characters, adventures and places of other books are assumed to make total sense. A new reader might well feel almost guilty; for Heaven’s sake, do keep up.
This title is something of an add-on, consisting of four love stories in which the series’ principal characters are brought together in what purports to be medieval England around the time of St Valentine’s Faire. Their experiences of love differ – unexpected-but-wonderful, finding-but-losing, fierce-but-unrequited and fulfilled-but-only-briefly. On the web, the writer thanks her readers since ‘This is a book, inspired by you, who have shared with me from the beginning and shown me how many different shapes love takes.’ Although intense passion is claimed between the characters, it is hardly felt – we never move beyond kisses, despite the characters being in late teenage or early adulthood (if angels several thousand years old can have adulthoods). This careful passion echoes the early Twilight novels, with which the series shares some basic elements. Most notably, Luce, the central heroine, a relatively innocent human (I think) falls for the mysterious charms of a supernatural hero, the Fallen Angel, Daniel Grigori. What he sees in her, one has to say, remains elusive, in this volume at least. Their love is the spine of the series, played out in different settings and centuries, moving to a denouement in the forthcoming final novel, Rapture.
Creating superior teenage schmaltz out of Genesis and dressing it in wimples and shining armour certainly demands an ingenious originality. The series is also supported by skilful online marketing; and here, the first 40 pages of Rapture appear as a taster at the end of the volume. Maybe such a religious framework could only grow out of contemporary America. And those sales figures cannot be ignored – the publishers claim that Fallen has sold 350,000 in the UK alone.