Morningside Fall by Jay Posey is a a novel that slips between a variety of different genres. For the sake of simplicity, I'm defining this novel as a Science-Fantasy Western.
Morningside Fall is the second novel in the Legends of the Duskwalker series.
About the Book
The lone gunman Three is gone.
Wren is the new governor of the devastated settlement of Morningside, but there is turmoil in the city. When his life is put in danger, Wren is forced to flee Morningside until he and his retinue can determine who can be trusted.
They arrive at a border outpost to find it has been infested with Weir in greater numbers than anyone has ever seen. These lost, dangerous creatures are harbouring a terrible secret – one that will have consequences not just for Wren and his comrades, but for the future of what remains of the world.
New threats need new heroes…
I really liked this book. It has a lot to offer, and I think it'll appeal to a very wide audience. It has the action and adventure I associate with a good western-themed novel, and it also has some really interesting science fiction and fantasy elements. I found the front end of the book to be a little slow, but once it takes off, it's a real nail-biter.
This is a 4 to a 4-1/2* novel, in my opinion. Almost ranked up there among my favorites, but not quite.
Before I begin the actual review, I want to make a note for potential readers: Read book one, Three, first. If you've already read Three, you might want to consider re-reading it before diving into Morningside Fall. I know some readers will happily dive into the middle of a series and figure things out as they go, but this novel has a good number of references to Three.
This isn't a bad thing. Jay Posey doesn't spend a great deal of time covering old ground. I like this about the novel, because I get frustrated when there is too much exposition regarding what happened in a previous novel. Some readers might find this disconcerting, however.
I'm going to start with the one thing I viewed as a flaw in this book before I wax eloquent about all of the things I really enjoyed about this novel.
I found the start of this novel a little slow for my liking. It took me a couple of chapters before I really got sucked into the story.
Part of this is my fault.
Wren is a young boy–younger than ten years old. He's in the unfortunate position of being Governor of Morningside. This dichotomy of age, role, and maturity level threw me for a loop. Sometimes, Wren is exceedingly mature and wise for his age. It strained my suspension of disbelief quite a bit. Then there are the moments where Wren acts exactly like I expect a child of his age to behave. This also exists in Three, though I found it was to a lesser extent.
I don't usually read a lot of books where one of the heroes of the novel is so young–especially as a POV character. But, Posey does a really good job balancing these bursts of wisdom and maturity with Wren's behavior as a child. Wren has circumstances, and a lot of them.
He's a good character.
It just took me longer than I like to get behind him and get used to how he is portrayed in Morningside Fall.
With the exception of my personal issues with Wren, the characters in Morningside Fall are what really make this novel stand out. They're different. They're unusual. They are interesting. Posey's portrayal of all of the secondary characters is what really brought this book together.
When combined with the plot, featuring problems created by the characters and problems from outside influences, it's a really powerful combination. After the first quarter or so of the book, it becomes a real nail-biter. It took me several sittings to finish the book, and the closer to the end I got, the grumpier I got about having to go to bed. I ended up losing a lot of sleep one night to finish because I couldn't go to sleep wondering what would happen next.
I like when a book does that to me.
What really drew me to this book was the mix of elements. It's post-apocalyptic. It's a western in styling. It's science fiction–sometimes rather hard science fiction. It's a bit of a fantasy, too. The blend of fantastical elements with the science fiction ones, which are in turn harnessed to the western post-apocalyptic setting is a matter of brilliance on Posey's part. The setting is a character, and by the time the novel ended, I felt like I had walked through the desolation right along with Wren and the other characters.
In closing, I want to mention one more thing: I specifically avoided spoilers telling what this story is about, instead relying on the book blurb from the novel for the introduction. This is the type of story where I feel spoiling the events–even the little things–will really take away from the reading of the book. Little things matter in this novel, and the impact of a single conversation or a small event is often huge.
This is definitely a book I'll re-read again. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a young hero, an action adventure, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and soft fantasy. I think because this novel so seamlessly melds these elements together, it's a great introduction series for those wanting to try a hybrid novel out.
Morningside Fall defies genre in all of the right ways. This book isn't quite one of my absolute favorite novels out there, but it's close — 4 to 4-1/2 * close.
Note: I received this novel as an ARC from Angry Robot Books in exchange for an honest review.