Appearing as students at a local Brisbane high school, Emilie and Cael are centuries-old elementals on the run. Their inseparable bond starts to fray when Soul, an irresistible demon, comes on the scene and Emilie follows him into the savage world where she and Cael were once kept captive.
Emilie is enchanted by Soul and a new existence where nothing is sacred - where death comes in the alleyway and graveyard brawls are commonplace - and she has to find her way among the shape shifters and vampyres in a demon hierarchy as complex as algebra. At first Soul's intentions seem honourable, but Emilie soon finds that all is not as it seems...
I haven't had a particularly good track record with books featuring angels. Happily, Chilcott does not fall into the trap that other authors have with the portrayal of the angels (although the angels don't get nearly as much page time as the demons, what they did get didn't annoy me, so yay).
However, I didn't find Emilie the most endearing of characters. At the very start she struck me as a bit stupid and I felt like she was relying on Cael and Soul to dictate her life for her. Fortunately, as I got to know Emilie better, I came to realise that wasn't quite true. It turns out she's just hideously naive, which caused a bit of face-palming but was generally less bothersome. I never quite understood what she saw in Soul though and why she kept following him around when she didn't really have to. At first I thought magic, but by the end that definitely wasn't true. Possibly it just took a lot of him doing morally reprehensible things to knock the naive out of her. In any case, it didn't quite feel like romance to me. Emilie is very quickly convinced that Soul cares about her and loves her, and while that is evident in his actions, I couldn't see a reason for her to want to be with him. At least a relationship with Cael would have been based on long-standing mutual trust. Not one for dedicated romance fans.
Which brings me to the writing. It was a bit rough. I felt character — particularly relationships between characters — was not very well developed and some of the conversations were stilted. I was a bit baffled by some of Emilie's actions, despite her explaining some of them to us. There could have been more descriptions of setting, particularly the more mundane Earthly settings, to ground some of the action. Overuse of "seemed" and "strangely enough" and other adverbs was grating although it did improve as it went along.
The ending was strong, setting up the next book in the series well. I read that the last chapter was what inspired the author to write the book, and looking back, I can see how everything was leading up to that point. It was definitely the most clearly drawn scene.
I think teens looking for a quick adventure story might enjoy Rise of the Fallen, particularly if they're into paranormal fantasy. It will be interesting to see how Chilcott's writing develops in the future.
3 / 5 stars
Series: Yes. Book 1 of 3
Format read: eARC
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge