Coleman Luck advances the tradition of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Madeleine L’Engle in writing a fantasy novel that speaks to modern-day reality and values. Angel Fall takes the reader on a journey with its three main characters, Alex, Amanda, and Tori Lancaster.
Sixteen-year-old Alex covers his deep pain of rejection and loneliness under a veil of cynicism and seemed world-weary wisdom.
Thirteen-year-old Amanda cowers from the world, buried under the weight of her own fears, and the fears others have placed upon her.
Nine-year-old Tori adopts the role of the perfect child in order to not stir up more pain in her imperfect world.
On a flight to Europe to live with their estranged father, the children’s plane is caught up in an unearthly wind and crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. From there, they enter another-worldly realm of ancient cities, mysterious creatures called Worwil, and a distinct mission—to carry an innocent baby back to the Great Mountain. On their journey they encounter catastrophe and depravity from without and within, and are caught in a calamitous battle to save Alex’s soul, and the life of the baby.
Each child’s inner thoughts, fears, and pain is laid bare, and they are faced with choices that teach them the nature of a world that sacrifices its children on the altar of convenience, and discover the result of these sacrifices: twisted truth, and destruction of life and innocence. In their desire to release their pain and find peace and freedom, each character must make the choice of life or death for themselves, and the other inhabitants of the world.
Luck’s ear for the language and attitude of this generation is quite exceptional, and he alternates from the voice and thought patterns of teen, to tween to child with great precision. Many modern writers make children and teens sound older and wiser than they really are, creating unrealistic and unrelatable characters. From page one, Alex, Amanda, and Tori are believable and touchable, and the reader is fully engaged in their subsequent pain and struggles .
Luck uses visual and illustrative language, painting an illuminative portrait of the Earthly world, the Internal world, and the Otherworld. Sandalban, Bellwind, Lammortan, Melania, Rindzac, and Mirick–the Worwil that interact with the youngsters on their journey, are equally distinctive, engaging, frightening and awe-inspiring in their presence and essence.
Luck also weaves the tension of escalating darkness, starting out in typical teen-story fashion of young people left to themselves and poised for light-hearted trouble. Then the shadows deepen and the darkness intensifies with each character’s struggle with their decisions and deceptions. The author makes no bones that evil exists and gains power through our apathy, arrogance, and appetites. Yet, even with the darkness of the situation, he manages to insert humor in playful, cynical, and sometimes snarky ways.
Luck’s use of cliffhangers is craftily done, and you are carried along with the force of each child’s situation. He conjures a braided parity between illusion and reality: starting out subtlely, then cycling more rapidly with each chapter, until you, the reader, are unaware of which is which. The book reflects an evil that is insidious, comforting and even innocent in appearance, but which ultimately leads to great pain and dire consequences.
Because of Luck’s stark portrayal of darkness and violent situations, I would not recommend this book for children younger than eleven. But for tweens, teens and adults, the book offers a riveting tale that upholds life and redemption, with an emphasis on the high cost of both. Angel Fall is an essential addition to any reading list.
Published by Zondervan.