Genre: Fiction/ Thriller/Suspense
Title: THE FRUIT OF THE FALLEN
Author: J.C. BURNHAM
Move over Dan Brown, there’s a new kid on the block and he knows how to deliver a blockbuster thriller that’s right up your genre. Okay, the novel doesn’t deal with Da Vinci, but The Fruit of the Fallen is one painstakingly researched theological thriller complete with a secret religious society. Without giving away too much of the plot, I’ll just mention fallen angels, hellhounds, and even Joan of Arc—all tossed into a contemporary timetable which revolves around a fifteen-year-old girl’s destiny. There are unexpected twists, everyone is suspect, and you will even find yourself questioning the protagonist before the author neatly ties up all the loose ends.
At age fifteen, Serenity D’ Evele finds herself alone, farmed out to a Catholic all-girl boarding school. She makes a few friends but clashes with some of her schoolmates, one in particular. As she tries to fit in, mysterious and terrifying things start happening; along with disturbing dreams, she finds she’s stalked by a horrific entity. But it’s not all bad; her talents as a classical musician are appreciated and she finds herself enchanted by what she hopes will become a budding romance in her life. Meanwhile, her benefactor, Dr. Jonathan Keats, sets out on an odyssey to discover the truth about Serenity and also clear himself of murder charges. His quest will be shadowed by clandestine, sinister figures as fate propels him into a mad dash across Europe. It all culminates at the boarding school, with everyone embroiled in headlong rush to a thrilling climax.
A valuable writer’s axiom beseeches writers to “show, not tell”. Another terrific rule: use as few words as necessary. I believe this author understands these concepts completely; for example, his phrase: “words flew and veins throbbed”. A lazier writer would have “told” us that someone was angry and they argued, rather than “showing” via such a remarkably brief descriptive phrase. Now, this type of writing makes for excellent reading, sure, but I believe the best part about this well-written novel is the author’s skillful use of foreshadowing; that, and his ability to leave you salivating for more at the end of each chapter. Not only that, but he delivers put-you-right-there descriptive phrases and the dialogue comes off remarkably natural. That said I have to admit I had a little problem with a few point-of-view shifts within scenes, making it a bit difficult to tell who was narrating. However, the effect was minimal and didn’t affect the quality of this fine novel.
I already said this book was painstakingly researched and the author bio on the back tells us why. As a kid, Dr. James C. Burnham, the author, attended a boarding school where he developed his talent for music and writing. He later graduated with a degree in music, only to continue on to earn a doctorate in education with an emphasis on learning psychology. Happily, because of Dr. Burnham’s writing skills, the music and theology facts—which could easily have come off as overbearing, boring or preachy—were none of those.
Recommended, by reviewer: Jan Evan Whitford, Allbooks Reviews,
Published by: Xlibris ©2010
ISBN 978-1-4500-1814-2 Trade paperback,
266 pages (also available in Hardcover edition)