Looking at the cover of Fallen by Traci L. Slatton, I thought perhaps this is a paranormal book. Are there vampires? Goblins? No and no. It's a post-apocalyptic world, where people have been stripped of everything. They have to rely on each other for survival. New alliances and intimate relationships are formed. But at the core of this book, is a love story. A love story that might not have happened if the entire world hadn't changed.
Deadly mists are killing billions of people. The poisonous gases strike without warning, consuming flesh before completely dissolving its victims into little droplets of water. If you do survive an attack, your mind descends into madness. Those lucky enough to still be alive band together. One woman, Emma, relies on her maternal instincts and her new healing powers to get her through. Emma was traveling in Paris with one of her daughters, Mandy, when the entire world changed. Her husband and eldest daughter were visiting family in Canada, the only safe haven left. Emma mothers not just her own child, but several others she encounters. Emma and her brood move from place to place, scouring the land for food and shelter.
It becomes more and more difficult for Emma to protect her children. Sometimes she is forced to put them out of their misery after a mist attack. Imagine growing incredible close to a child you consider to be your own, only to have kill them. It's painful to watch them suffer. You want so desperately to end their pain. It's an incredible burden to carry with you. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone to share that burden with? Relief for Emma comes very early in the book. Arthur, the leader of an all-male camp, saves Emma and the children from the mists. An intimate alliance is formed. Arther provides food, shelter, and protection while Emma takes her place in his bed. No emotional attachments are necessary, this is just a relationship of convenience...or so they think.
Two people who don't really want to change, end up doing just that. Arthur is ridged. He loves being the protector and he loves being in charge. He is extremely jealous and sometimes views Emma as a possession rather than a person. But, Emma finds a way to soften Arthur. She makes changes to the camp. She insists on clean clothes, clean teeth, and makeshift bathrooms. Despite her present circumstances, Emma still dreams of her past. She wants to go back to her husband and daughter. She wants to go back to life Before the change. But Arthur wants to build a life After the change. He wants to rebuild society. He exudes confidence, but Arthur is hiding a secret. A secret that could shake Emma's faith in him. He does everything to protect Emma from his past. Arthur wants to build a life with Emma, who is resistant. Emma believes she's not in love with Arthur. But if you read the book, you will think otherwise. Over time she cares what Arthur thinks. She looks forward to talking with him, eating with him, and waking up to him. The numerous times they become separated, Emma is thinking about Arthur and Mandy. Her husband doesn't dominate her thoughts like Arthur.
Arthur and Emma are at the heart of the book, but the other characters are just as interesting. An herbalist, Laurette, from a rival camp comes to heal the sick, but she isn't afraid to put people in their place. Newt, a young girl who can not only see the future, but can connect with people deeply on an emotional level. Alexei, a rival camp leader who is determined to destroy Arthur. By the end of the book, I wanted to know more about everyone. What will they do? How long can they survive? Will they find happiness? The book ends with a very emotional cliffhanger. This is the first of a trilogy, and I can't wait to find out what happens.
Note: I received a copy of the book from the author (Traci L. Slatton) in exchange for an honest review.