Sunday, July 27, 2008

Angel Falling Softly -- A Review and Comments

I was sent a review copy of Angel Falling Softly. Most of this review will be about things that the book is not.

First, most people will have heard about the book because the publisher is trying to stir up some controversy about the lesbian sex scenes contained in an LDS audience novel. Sorry, not much there (in fact, first time through I just edited the scenes out as I read like any other fan service and didn't realize they were there, second time through, there isn't enough there to call it a lesbian sex scene in anyone's perspective other than a publicist's).

Second, it isn't really "Bishop's wife seeks to have child turned into a soulless undead monster rather than letting the child leave mortality in a more conventional fashion." Quite the dilemma? I don't see it. I'd give a lot to have my daughters back, but not as revenants, that isn't having them back, just evil possessing and riding their bodies. But, that isn't what is happening either in this story.

Third, it isn't typical soft porn romance novel with a supernatural Mary Sue figure as the lead character. That is an entire genre now, with its conventions, imprints (special publishing houses devoted to just that kind of novel) and New York Times bestsellers. I'd have soon tried to eat the garbage as read some of that, but that isn't what the novel is about, though the cover could well pass for an upscale version of that sort of book's cover. If you want one of those, go over to the grocery store, they'll have them with the rest of the disposable books.

The book is something entirely different, an exploration of the human condition with an LDS background (though for all it mattered, it could have been any group, kindly treated) and one of the modern vampire types who are likeable characters, with souls, generally either aliens, virus victims or mutatants (or sometimes all three) who just happen to have knowledge, power, wealth and angst.

Eugene Woodbury is the author, and if you slow down when you read it you will realize it has his touch.

Now in some ways, the book is too short, with not enough words. It verges on fanfic territory as it gets started (Mormon vampire fanfic !? ?!) with things like "bishop" and such sketched in as placeholders rather than explained. But at the pricepoint they had, 225 pages or so is probably all that they could squeeze in.

It gets beyond cardboard. Some eroticism, though Woodbury often seems drawn to that, but not graphic or intense, merely keeping consistent with the modern vampire (compared to the completely non-erotic drauger of times past). Much less than a normal novel any more, and no where near enough to justify any attention.

This is mainstrem writing, not fantasy, horror or erotica. In the end, the story is really about love, family, redemption and hope. The rest is just window dressing, or things that the novel really isn't.

Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury (Paperback - Jun 30, 2008)
Buy new: $11.96