This book surprised me in more ways than one. I went into it thinking I’d get a so-so story that had a few biblical references. Nothing bad, but not anything special or memorable. A solid 3-star book. But I was pleasantly surprised to find myself invested in the story and the lives of the characters. The Day the Angels Fell is a great example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or in my case, the synopsis and genre.
After his mother dies in a tragic lightning accident, Sam Chambers is determined to bring her back, no matter the cost. A sequence of spooky circumstances—three fortune-tellers from the carnival, the sudden appearance of the hermit neighbor, and a shadow monster that only shows up at night—Sam is prompted to search for the Tree of Life, which can reverse death. But finding the tree and bringing his mother back to life isn’t so simple. As Sam confronts these anomalies, he begins to wonder if his search is worth the risks.
There was a lot about The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker that I appreciated. The narrative voice was refreshing and simple. There was a lot of interesting descriptions with a great attention detail, which made the story live. The characters were relatable. I felt that I knew the small town of Deen: the farms, the carnival, the reclusive old man, the friendship of Abra and her family, the stories. It felt familiar and lived-in. Sam’s grief over his mother was well-written, exploring how desperate we can be to hold on to life. It revealed an important glimpse into loss, something that isn’t often depicted well or with the knowledge that everybody grieve differently.
The story line of searching for the Tree of Life and the steps it took to bring the Tree of Life into existence was compelling. At first, I kind of ho-hummed my way through the book, but at some point, I realized I was invested. I needed to know what Sam would do, if he would bring the Tree of Life into existence and what that would mean for his mother, for the town of Deen, and for the world. The legend about the angels was intriguing as well. The book kept me wondering as I read, not revealing everything all.
There were a few things I wasn’t as keen on. The narration of old man Sam was a bit jarring every time it switched back to “present” day. As someone who reads a lot of YA and has been reading YA since before middle school, I’m not sure those passages would interest a younger teen. I think they would connect with 12 year-old Sam and Abra, though. That being said, I think the passages about older Sam were important, especially with the way the book ended. In addition, while I was invested in the story and interested in continuing, for me, the story wasn’t as memorable as I was hoping. I also feel the title was a little misleading because it was about much more than just the angels falling, which also could have been explored further (and maybe it will be at some point). There were a few plot twists I saw something or something Sam wondered about that I knew was true. However, I don’t think any of these aspects take away from the overall story and the discussion of life and death the story brings up.
I appreciate what The Day the Angels Fell did as a story. It’s a good story for someone looking for a clean, Christian-based read, similar to the Dreamhouse Kings series by Robert Liparulo or the Solitary books by Travis Thrasher. Overall, it’s a decent story and shouldn’t be looked over. It has a lot of truths hidden between the pages.