Evan Burl and the Falling (Evan Burl #1)
by Justin Blaney
Evan Burl is abandoned to Daemanhur castle, under the supervision of his Uncle Mazol. He steals a letter, from the man he believes to be his father, that insists Evan is going to be very powerful and very evil someday, and will eventually suffer a Falling. Determined to prove the letter wrong, Evan dedicates himself to the protection of the Roslings: 12 little girls who are sent to Daemanhur -- who aren't allowed to eat, who can't get sick, who can't die -- and are forced into slavery. When the Roslings start to fall ill, Evan is forced to confront his destiny.
This is one of those books that has the ability to make a reader nervous about literary quality. The copyright page and note from the author acknowledge self-publication--and while self-published authors may have some intriguing ideas they often feel the need to take "creative writing" to a grammatically incorrect extreme. Right away my doubt is fed by the fact that the formatting is a little off. Chapter headings appear before chapters actually appear. My version of this book is also an announced ARC, apparently Evan Burl #1 & #2 are combined and revised in this version; offered up for an unbiased review. As I never read the first editions, I can't tell where Book 1 ends and Book 2 begins (thats a good thing!).
The Prologue aka Chapter 3, starts off with dramatic imagery involved in a literal fall through space; doing exactly what a good prologue should: making the reader wonder how our character got there in the first place. Sadly, the first few chapters following are a bit hard to get through--JB deciding to throw us right into a plotline with very little explanation for why things are happening or what certain things are... Brilliance is overshadowed by confusion.
But the story definitely got better the more I read; the author seems to have hit a rhythm and once I saw words used in context more than once, it was easier to glean the meaning behind them. Before I knew what was happening, all doubts were gone and I couldn't put the story down because suddenly I had all these questions: Who is Evan Burl? Who can he trust? And what exactly are the Roslings?
And instead of trying to answer these questions, Justin Blaney continues to expand his magical world into a "Dark Side of the Rainbow"-like experience. As the magic inside the characters grow, we're shown the price of Sapience: sanity. Imagination is the key to Sapience and the more it is used, the harder it is to separate fiction from reality. If you thought Evan's life was hard in the early chapters...
Over all, I adored this book. There were a few dropped commas, and a couple of misused pronouns as if Blaney forgot who the subject of his sentence was, but nothing overwhelmingly distracting. And since his author's notes say this is the unrevised version, I've got no problem giving him 4 stars while urging him to hurry the hell up with the sequel!