Intended Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Razor Sharp Books (Self Published)
CONTENT WARNING: Shown on Page (things clearly told to the reader): Profanity, Violence, Ableism, Cursing, Drug Use, Age gap, Self-harm, Vomiting, Infidelity, Gore, Minor kink/S&M
ALLUDED TO: (things only mentioned in passing or hinted at): Child abuse, Child neglect, Child harm, financial abuse, Statutory rape, Incest (to clarify: no actual incest, but there are recounts of tabloid rumors about it)
C. M. Caplan’s science-fantasy novel, The Fall is All There Is, is packed with so many unique elements, there is sure to be something that every reader will love. When I finished this book, I was piecing together all that I read, against the incredible world building, and I was more than impressed. There was an apocalypse, and then another, so yes there two that ravaged the world. In its wake, Mr. Caplan created an imaginative world of ghost fog, steampunk-like inventions, palaces built into the fossilized bones of large animals, and plenty of court intrigue. The characters were very well-developed, and it was great to see representation, with a main protagonist with autism and LBGTQIA characters as well, including the main character.
One of the most unique aspects of this book is the world building. It takes place after two apocalypses have occurred. In its wake, the people live in homes and palaces made from the very large fossilized bones of long extinct animals. The ghost fog really sets the world building apart. When people die, what remains of their soul comes in as ghost fog. Those souls can then inhabit bodies of the recently dead. They are not zombies, but Gaunts, which is a ghost-infection. They are dangerous, and to avoid the fog, people wear gas masks. It’s also interesting that the fog is not ever present. It will come at different times, and then the mask is necessary to avoid infection. Many of the inventions have a steampunk and reanimated “corpse” feel to them. For example, horses have both mechanical parts and biological organs. There are also sonic handguns, science-swords, and the ability to replace lost limbs. It was quite amazing.
The characters were well-developed. The story is told in the firs-person narrative of Petre, the main protagonist. He is a Prince of the ruling family. Petre has autism and is the “youngest” of quadruplets, whose birth order determines who will rule. He wants no part of the court intrigue that his siblings engage in. He was always deemed the “problem child” and left home at eighteen. Five years later, as his sister, the “oldest”, becomes ready to take the crown, Petre is thrown back into the center of it all against his wishes. The second oldest sibling, Edgar, feels it is his right to rule, and is preparing to go to war with his sister, Anoise. Of course, each has their own side of the story as to why they should rule. Since we get the story from Petre’s perspective, he is torn as to who to believe. He is back in the place he never wanted to be in, and now must decide which of his siblings he will support. Desmond, who is older than Petre, but younger than Edgar, is siding with Anoise, and was trained as the diplomat in the family. Anoise was close to Petre, and begged him not to leave. He was never close with his two brothers. Now an adult, Petre must decide what he is going to do. Either way, he can’t win.
The Fall is All There Is, by C.M. Caplan, has something for every reader of fantasy and science fiction. The ending was great and will leave you wanting to know what is going to happen next. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next installment.
You never want to ruin a really good dramatic exit. When you flee home on a cyborg horse the exact second you turn eighteen, you don’t really expect to go back to the place you fled from, you know? But sometimes your old life hits you from behind.
Sometimes you spend years away from home, killing dangerous people who had the bad luck to get infected by a lungful of ghostfog, only to find out that your dad, the king, is dead, and now your siblings are ordering you back home for a high stakes family reunion.
But when you’ve got four heirs who are all the same age, the line of succession tends to get a wee bit murky. So in order to regain your independence, you’ve got to navigate a deadly web of intrigue, where every sibling wants your allegiance, and any decision might tear your country—and your family—apart.
My thanks to Escapist Book Co for a copy of the eBook
Purchase The Fall is All There Is on Amazon
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.M. CAPLAN IS the author of The Fall is All There Is and The Sword in the Street. He’s a quadruplet (yes, really), and is disabled. He has a degree in creative writing and was the recipient of his university’s highest honor in the arts. His short fiction also won an Honorable Mention in the 2019 Writers of the Future Contest.
If you enjoy his novel, you can rate it on Goodreads or Amazon.
You can also subscribe to Caplan’s mailing list at cmcaplan.net to receive any free short stories, future updates, information, or sneak previews into future projects.