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Sunday, April 17, 2011

'Falling Under' by Gwen HAYES

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:


Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life, but when a devastatingly handsome boy appears at her school, she feels every urge she's ever denied burning through her at his slightest glance.

Theia does not understand why she dreamed of Haden Black before they met, by as the Haden of both the day and the night beckons her forward, Theia knows she cannot resist him – even when she discovers what he truly is; and even if the cost of that knowledge is her soul.


Theia Alderson’s life is forever changed when she dreams of the burning man falling from the sky. She dreams in him a deep sadness and sweet longing . . . and then Theia wakes up. She awakens to find her life unchanged and the burning man a disturbing memory. Theia still lives with her suffocating father and is still one member of a misfit trio of friends, including Donny and Amelie.

The only way Theia’s life has changed is with the appearance of a new boy at school. Haden Black is seduction incarnate – tall, dark, handsome and impossibly familiar. With Haden’s appearance come more strange dreams: skeleton soirées, river tears and always Haden. Haden in top-hat and coat tails, and as the burning man. But the Haden in Theia’s dreams is very different from waking reality, and Theia just wishes she knew if one was aware of the other or if it is all in her imagination . . .

‘Falling Under’ is the first book in a new young adult paranormal romance series by Gwen Hayes.

Reading the first few chapters of ‘Falling Under’ I found myself trying to ‘guess the monster’. I thought I had the formula all figured out – innocent young girl falls for a mysterious boy who is revealed to be a ____ . But after a few chapters it becomes achingly obvious that Hayes is above all the usual paranormal traps. There is not a werewolf, vampire or angel in sight, and Hayes is not above writing tongue-in-cheek references to all those authors who stuck to the formulaic;
Haden sighed and his eyelids lowered, his gaze resting on my lips. “I'm serious, Theia. You’ll never be safe with me.”
“If you are about to tell me you are a vampire that glitters in the sunshine, I will –”
So far, 2011 is shaping up to be the year of superior young adult novels. Amy Plum, MJ Hearle and Kelley Armstrong are among a cachet of YA authors who are writing twistingly grand novels for the younger set. Gwen Hayes is the latest YA author to elevate the paranormal genre for youthful audiences. She has written a twisted modern fairytale that draws on Greek mythology and epic tragedy of Shakespearian proportions.

The book begins with a bang as Theia witnesses a burning man plummet from the sky. From that first chapter onwards you can’t help but be hooked. And from there it’s a slow burn as Hayes introduces us to the delicate and sheltered Theia. She bears the brunt of her father’s paranoia; since her mother died young, her father has tried his hardest to keep Theia close, while inadvertently distancing her from his love. Theia is written as a modern-day princess – stuck in a tower of her father’s worries. For someone who is so naive and innocent, Theia is a surprisingly interesting character. She is very perceptive and it’s interesting to read her adult awakening with twisted dreams.

Making her all the more fascinating are her best friends – Donny and Amelie ‘Ame’. These are three infectious characters – and their strong bonded friendship is so easy and fun to read. These young women are the sorts of friends you’d love to have around you. They are thoroughly original – nicknaming their school’s popular people ‘sneetches’ (after the star-bellied Dr. Seuss characters). Donny is boy-crazy and Ame is destiny-mad and together they compliment Theia and push her to break the rules. I loved this trio – even more so when a sneetch boy called Gabe takes a shining to Donny and a cross-dressing psychic called Varnie enters the scene. Hayes writes scene-stealing moments for her secondary characters, without every detracting from the real heart of the story – Theia and Haden.

I don’t want to give away Haden’s monster-side, because it’s a fun guessing-game and Hayes has written a wonderful unfolding for his reveal. Save to say, the hint is in his name. Hayes draws on Greek mythology to create a frightening and unique back-story for Haden and his world.

The love story is frightening, to say the least. Haden is an intense and alluring character – he openly admits to being obsessed with Theia and inhumanly jealous where she is concerned. I love that there is a trend in YA books now, that authors don’t just brush aside the hero’s infatuation with a heroine – rather they address, and often condemn it;
He nodded his assent, looking hopeful.
“Will you answer me one question?”
“I suppose it will depend entirely upon what you ask.”
Tell me again he was seventeen because he certainly didn’t speak like it. “Why won’t you touch me? You avoid it like I'd burned you.”
“Will you believe me if I say it’s for your safety?”
My expression must have said no.
Haden leaned towards my hair, his breath warming my ear and setting off a trail of warm, tumbling sensation throughout my whole body. He whispered, “I can’t touch you because I want to touch you more than anything in the world.”
I swallowed around my heart, which had edged its way into my throat.
“If I give in to that,” he continued, “all will be lost.”
‘Falling Under’ is such a fantastically frightening YA paranormal romance. Hayes has written a twisted fairytale that draws on the darker side of passion and breathes new life into old mythology. Hayes’s writing is a lyrical dream and her characters are multifaceted-fascinating. I can’t wait to read where this series goes – a new book is slated for 2012 release, and I am immeasurably excited!



  1. Great review! This one sounds fabulous, though I have been having a hard time getting excited about YA =/

    Love the cover as well!

  2. Oh man, I almost picked this book up the other day when I saw it. Now I know I have to grab it!

  3. A wonderful review, this book sounds wonderful!

    Happy Easter! I'm a new follower :)


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