The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town. Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it. An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig
July 14th, 2020
When this story started I was excited. I talked about it as a gay Twilight. Like if Bella Swan was a gay lad and torn between a gay vampire and a pansexual vampire. Augustus Pfieffer has a lesbian Latinx best friend who has an Asian-American girlfriend. At the beginning I could not have been more excited for this story. Caleb Roehrig was acknowledging several vampire romance and vampire story tropes. The narrative was both poking fun at the cliches as well as playing with them. Then, that was the gear it got stuck in. This story really struggled, for me, to get out of first gear.
It’s a shame. When a story is dealing with something like the apocalypse, you’d hope the tension and excitement would ramp up. Caleb Roehrig does quite a bit to make the story interesting at first. For example, featuring plenty of historical figures in the history of vampires narrative was quite cool. Hell, the big bad guy is Grigori Rasputin .Yes, as in “Ra ra Rasputin/ Russia’s greatest love machine/ It was a shame how he carried on” Rasputin. He is the villain. So, there is ton of interesting things going on in this story. However, sometimes, too much is just that…too much.
This story involves vampires, four separate cults (two vampire, one human, and one witches/warlocks), element based magic, the apocalypse, possession, historical jumps, and the fallen angel Azazel. It sort of fell like, at points, a Dungeons and Dragons campaign but where the players rotate who is the Dungeon Master. I mean, at one point, several points, there’s even ninjas. Like, There is a lot of good ideas in this book, too many. They don’t really ever feel like they mesh together. They’re all sort of loosely connected and eventually lightly tied together. Like I said, this book really struggles to get out of first gear.
It took me a while of thinking and I finally figured out why I had a problem really getting into this book. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love first person present tense. I like stories with a mystery or mysterious elements. However, when the protagonist is being told everything by characters because he wants to cry out, “What is going on?” Then get explained what is going on it becomes repetitive and, frankly, annoying. Auggie never really figures anything out in this book. He is told some new detail after he asks three to six times in exactly the same way, every time. Don’t get me wrong, Auggie Pfeiffer has a very distinctive voice. That being said, he never even tries to figure anything out on his own. Plus, when the reader is told one thing, then you find out the opposite is true, and then that happens FOUR times there is no more surprises. Clearly, there are moments in the book, every time at the end of a chapter, that are meant to catch the reader’s attention. However, when that happens thirty-seven times, after the fourth time you are not surprised. In fact, you figure out what the twist is going to be by like the second paragraph of the chapter.
I’m sad that I didn’t love this book as much as I did after chapter one. I immediately fell in love with Auggie Pfeiffer and Folton Heights. I immediately wanted to see how this story progressed. Then, when I found out his crush was a Ramone looking British vampire, I was all in. Plus, his best friend is into wicca. There is such a good act one. Act two and act three however feel like repeating chapters. To the point, when the climaxes were happening there was minimal excitement for me.
Now, if I was a teenager and looking for LGBTQIA representation in books so I could see myself in it, this book would do the job splendidly. Especially the fact that one of the vampires is pansexual. It was seriously awesome to read. The fact that he says it and never shows it is my biggest gripe about this book. This book tells and never shows. I wish this book showed me more. It told me there is probably going to be a book two and I can tell you I won’t be desperately waiting for the probable sequel.
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Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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