Daily Archives: October 28, 2013
Title: Fall Hard
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Blurb: Some memories are better off lost in the mist…
Eight months ago, British academic Paul Ansell lost his lover—and all the memories of their time together—in an accident at Iceland’s Gullfoss Falls. Returning to the misty island country to resume his study of the bloodthirsty Viking Egil Skallagrimsson is tough as he struggles to pull his life back together.
First, there’s his colleague, Mags, who treats him like glass, and summer student Alex, who peppers him with discomforting questions. Then there’s Icelandic jet-boat driver Viggo, a tattooed, modern-day Viking who won’t say much about how they know each other. Leaving Paul to wonder if their volcanic attraction is fuelled by a desire to make a fresh start, or desperation to forget the past.
As more fragments of his lost memories fall into place, Paul is unsure if he can trust himself, much less anyone around him. And he begins to suspect his accident was nothing of the kind.
Warning: Contains a modern-day Viking whose boat has V8 engines for oars, and a harsh land of hot springs and hotter passions that won’t forgive any false steps.
Review: Paul was involved in a terrible accident eight months ago that left him with amnesia and his lover dead. After recovering in his native England Paul is returning to his work in Iceland, studying and teaching Viking history. Despite his injury he is determined to complete his in-depth research on Egil Skallagrimsson, an ancient Viking and generally terrible person.
I was very intrigued by this book, I’ve enjoyed many of the author’s previous books and was excited to read something with such an original setting. I’ve had a very, very cursory education in Viking lore but knew less than nothing about Iceland going into Fall Hard. Merrow was very successful in transporting me to Iceland, it was so easy to visualize the foreign terrain of legend.
The novel is from Paul’s perspective, because of this the reader is as much in the dark about the past as Paul. Mags, Paul’s colleague and friend, is his touchstone to the past and is a wonderful character. She added something special to the story and had faced her own adversity. The love interest, Viggo, was such an intriguing character. He was my favorite part of this story, his interactions with Paul were at times surprisingly forward and at others heart wrenchingly tentative. The more the reader learns about him the more you like him. And my goodness are those tattoos blush inducing!
I have to say the story was not without a couple weaknesses, the main one was Paul himself. Paul was not easy to associate with, his manner and temperament made it difficult for me to empathize with him. The amnesia that is such a pivotal part of the story also stripped some of the personality quirks that Paul would normally have. When a character doesn’t know much of himself he can be a bit flat on the page. I also wished there was more about Viggo and his journey. The book left me wishing for a story from Viggo’s point of view, how the accident affected his life is something I would love to read.
The mysterious accident is the driving force in the story so I won’t delve into that, but as the reader you will take the same journey of discovery as Paul toward finding the truth. The murky quality of the setting and the luscious writing style, really gave this book a Noir feel. This is a great read that is so layered and deep, I recommend it for those days you want to truly sink into a story.
Reviewed by Jules