Morningside Fall (Legends of the Duskwalker Book #2) by Jay Posey
Genre: Adult science fiction
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: April 29 2014
Source: eARC from publisher via NetGalley
The nitty-gritty: Atmospheric, terrifying, and emotionally wrenching, with a group of likable side characters that steal the show, and one missing hero that dulls the shine on this story.
The calls of the Weir were coming almost on top of each other now, from all directions. At least that’s what it seemed like to Cass. With the way the walls carried the sounds and the echoes, it was impossible to accurately judge numbers, distance, or location. But Cass felt the hair stand up on her neck and knew they were walking a knife’s edge. She could feel the Weir, in a way. A kind of wild pressure, like the tension in the air just before a violent storm.
SPOILER ALERT !!!!
Yes, there will be spoilers. I cannot write this review without touching on one of the events from Three. I usually try to keep my reviews spoiler free, but many of my feelings about Morningside Fall hinge on this event, and I can’t properly convey my reactions to the book without mentioning it. I’m whiting out the spoiler, so if you’ve read Three and don’t mind reading it, simply highlight the blank area below. There, you have been duly warned. Turn back now and you won’t be hurt;-)
Last year Three was one of my top ten books of the year (you can read my review here), and so I was highly anticipating the second book in Jay Posey’s series. And while I did enjoy Morningside Fall for the most part, it didn’t grab me the way Three did. Three made me cry, big time. The entire book was infused with emotion, and Jay’s stunning writing made me feel as if I were right there with the characters, travelling across the Strand, the barren wasteland where the zombie-like creatures called the Weir roam and hunt. Morningside Fall made me cry as well, but it was the last quarter of the story that really lived up to its predecessor, which came a little too late for me to give it a higher rating. Nonetheless, Posey is a talented writer and has an amazing future in the world of science fiction/fantasy, and even if I wasn’t completely wowed by this book, you can bet I’ll be clamoring to read the next one.
When the story begins, young Wren and his mother Cass are living in the compound of Morningside Fall, where Wren is ruling as Governor of the city, after having saved the people of Morningside at the end of Three. But Wren’s shaky relationship with his advisors has created a tension among the people, who seem to be split on the idea of Wren’s ruling to allow Awakened Weir (people who had been claimed and turned by the vicious once-human creatures that prowl outside the walls, and then returned to near-human form by Wren) to live within the city walls.
When Wren is attacked in his room one night, events start to spiral out of control, and Wren and his mother Cass are forced to flee the city, to avoid being blamed for a murder. As they struggle to stay alive outside the walls, with only a handful of loyal friends to help them, the Weir begin to change, and Wren wonders if they’ll ever be safe again.
So let’s get the spoiler out of the way. And we’re actually told this, more or less, in the blurb for Morningside Fall. But in order to understand my feelings about this book, you need to know this: Three, hero, bad-ass, and all-around awesome character from the last book, is dead. I cried buckets of tears over him at the end of Three, but I held out a small sliver of hope that perhaps he wasn’t actually dead. You know, authors do that all the time. Bring people back from the dead in one way or another. And so I began this book with hope, that Three might miraculously reappear, or at the very least, he would be replaced with another awesome, bad-ass hero that I could root for. Unfortunately, neither of these things happened. Three was what made the last book so special for me, and I wanted Morningside Fall to give me someone else to love as much. Instead of a central hero figure, we get some pretty awesome side characters, but for me, they couldn’t take the place of Three. At one point Wren says, “I wish Three were here.” I couldn’t agree more. *End of Spoiler.
I want to talk about some of these side characters, because they were the main draw for me this time around. Painter is one of Wren’s best friends, a damaged boy who has been Awakened by Wren after becoming a Weir himself. Painter is now living in the complex, but the Weir side of him is still very strong, and he often yearns for his old life outside the city walls. He is torn by his love for and loyalty to Wren, but something is calling to him, and it’s getting harder and harder to push that voice aside. Painter is such a tragic figure, and I absolutely loved him.
I also loved the group of soldiers who steadfastly protect Wren and Cass. I could have read an entire book dedicated to these people! Swoop, Gamble, Sky and Wick are fiercely protective of young Wren and his mother, and I loved the military jargon and short and snappy dialogue they use to communicate with each other.
The overall atmosphere of Morningside Fall was one of tense, edge-of-your-seat terror. Posey knows how to convey suspense, and he put his characters in danger over and over again, which left my pulse pounding and my heart racing. This is science fiction, but like the best SF, it’s also horror. Every time the characters are exposed to the Weir, we’re never really sure what’s going to happen to them. Posey also loves to make his characters suffer by separating them from the people they love most, and I had more than one bout of tears while reading this book.
But for whatever reason, Morningside Fall’s pacing suffered because there was just too much going on. The story felt fractured to me and could have used a little more editing, in my opinion. A mysterious character referred to as “Blindfold” (yes, the guy on the cover) appears near the beginning of the story, but then disappears almost until the end, making me wonder why Posey even included him. (We do find out who he is eventually, although honestly I was hoping he would turn out to be someone else…) Blindfold’s mission is never really explained, though, and I’m baffled as to why the publisher decided to put him front and center on the cover. (I would have given that distinction to Cass.)
But as you see, I’ve given Morningside Fall four stars, which means there is a lot to enjoy in this book. It might not be everything I wanted it to be, but I did love being back in Posey’s terrifying, post-apocalyptic world, where danger can be found around every corner, even when you think you’re safe behind the walls.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. The above quote is from an uncorrected proof, and may differ in the final version. Don’t forget to stop back here tomorrow, where I’ll have an interview with author Jay Posey, and a giveaway for Morningside Fall!
You can find Morningside Fall here: