The Fallen is the second novel in the Darkest Hand series and follows on from the events in The Damned. The review for that novel can be found here. Spoilers for The Damned follow so please do not read further if you haven’t started this series yet.
The Fallen follows The Damned structure as each chapter moves between different places and characters. The world is still suffering the early effects of World War I and it seems like The Darkest Hand are working behind the scenes, making sure they are in the right place to cause maximum chaos. This book follows their attempts to raise the seven princes of Hell, as they pave the way for Lucifer’s ascendence. Standing in The Darkest Hand’s way are a small but strong resistance led by Sabine and Henry from the previous novel.
At the end of The Damned, Poldek Tacit had been taken by the Inquisition and imprisoned in Toulouse. Tacit is tortured for stopping the Mass for Peace from becoming a massacre. We find out that the Catholic Church has covered up the plot between members of the Church and Hombre Lobos trying to expose the Church’s past mistakes and has instead blamed Tacit calling him unstable. Sister Isabella after these events is back working with the Chaste to make sure that priests continue to keep their vows of celibacy.
It is Isabella who stumbles onto the conspiracy within the Church, during an assignment she wanders into view of The Darkest Hand and becomes a target for them. Saved by Henry, their only recourse after losing more allies is to have Tacit join them. Isabella, Henry and Sabine know that it will be impossible to break him out of the fortress-like prison of Toulouse, yet they are not yet out of contact with everyone who can help them.
As mentioned, this is a book written from many different perspectives; so we also follow the Cardinals and Bishops in the Holy See, as they wonder about prophecies and whether Tacit is good or evil, and if the best place for Tacit is prison, or should they have removed him completely? We see how petty these men are, with their political allegiances and lust for power. As Tacit and Isabella are now seen as enemies of the Church it is also interesting to see the different dynamics between the hunted and the hunters of the first novel. The set up is extensive and there are lots of strands pulling together. There are also characters introduced who you instantly feel sorrow for, their fates are sealed and it doesn’t look like anything can be done for them.
Tacit is still the tortured soul from The Damned, but he is more damaged by his time in Toulouse, if the Holy See didn’t trust him before the events of The Fallen, they are unlikely to change their minds now. Tacit has always been a force for nature, but has he finally been pushed too far? Tacit is feared by everyone except Isabella, each has different reasons for fearing and hating him. This book is very much about whether destiny can be averted and what the cost of any decision will be.
There are a lot of different plot strands that have been woven together to make this novel an engaging middle in this trilogy. Knowing how far Tacit has come, we are left wondering whether the plans of the Darkest Hand have been thwarted or merely diverted to another course of action. As the Catholic Church can not trust its own members, with a Pope that is mentioned but not seen, it is easy to imagine that the conspiracy of the Darkest Hand goes all the way to the top of the Catholic Church.
I have again found Tarn Richardson’s story to be very engaging with supernatural events twisting around real events in our past. With such murderous intentions, it is easy to understand how war can be seen as a coming apocalypse foretold in all the world’s mythologies. I am interested to see where the third novel goes as there are still a lot of questions left, regarding not only where we left the characters in this story, but also where it goes from here.
Review by Michelle Herbert
I suppose we should start by saying ‘congratulations’ on completing The Darkest Hand trilogy! You must be really pleased to have finally finished writing it? Pleased! Relieved! I loved writing the books, love [...]
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