The Coleman Luck File:
Reviewed by Jennifer Bogart
Angel Fall by Coleman Luck
"Despite the hooky storyline, and my eagerness to read Angel Fall, I found the writing rather flat and un-engaging, particularly during the first hundred or so pages."
Rarely can I resist a novel that integrates biblical allegory with young adult fiction. Coleman Luck’s combination of the two catapulted Angel Fall to the top of my reading pile with promises of teenagers swept away to otherworldly realms where they encounter first-hand the battle between good and evil.
On a day fraught with peculiarities the three Lancaster children – Alexs, Amanda, and Tori – find themselves crashing into the Atlantic Ocean on an airplane flight carrying them to England to live with their father. Upon waking they find themselves in a haunting landscape filled with ruins brought about by the evil machinations of one called Lamortan.
One of the seven Worwils appointed to watch over this world, his efforts to seize power for himself – away from the King who lives on the great mountain – have plunged the world into destruction. Before long, the eldest Lancaster, Alex, will also be drawn into his schemes, made vulnerable by his bitterness, anger, and pride. In the meanwhile, sisters Amanda and Tori work to bear a small, light burden to the top of the mountain. An unusual child has been entrusted to their care, one over which they are challenged at every step of their journey.
Though this is Luck’s debut novel (25 years in the making), his career has been largely spent in screenwriting. Unfortunately that writing experience doesn’t translate well into his first novel. Despite the hooky storyline, and my eagerness to read Angel Fall, I found the writing rather flat and un-engaging, particularly during the first hundred or so pages.
Scenes describing events of huge emotional and dramatic impact were often dismissed in two or three brief sentences tritely describing anguish before moving along. As a result I was tempted to abandon the novel on page 80, but kept pressing on. As the allegorical tie-ins became more prominent the story did become more engaging, but never fully recovered from the sense of emotional distance the book began with.
Parents screening for young readers may want to note that some of the language used is harsher than that found in most Christian novels. Words such as “friggin” are used repeatedly by the young people, as well as frequent use of casual/slang deviations from formal English, “gonna”, “gotta” etc. As each of the children is confronted by their own personal nightmares and forms of bondage, references to sexual abuse, adultery, and voyeurism are made – though they are never explicit or treated positively.
Angel Fall isn’t being billed specifically as a young adult novel, and most adults will find these themes easy to deal with. However, some teens attracted to stories of young protagonists may not be prepared to face these demons head on depending upon their degree of emotional maturity.
With such an intriguing premise, a handful of eccentric spiritual creatures, and parallels to contemporary issues we face in our fallen world, I hoped to add Angel Fall to my list of great reads. However, the lack of solid emotional investment in the lives of the primary characters resulted in a rather lackluster expedition into the world that Luck has created.
Jennifer Bogart is a child of God, wife and homeschooling mother of three young children (so far). She writes homeschooling resources with her husband at Bogart Family Resources, and reviews as a creative outlet. Passionately dedicated to promoting the work of Christian authors and artists, her blog Quiverfull Family features reviews, contests, family updates, homeschooling tidbits and well - a bit of everything.