The Day The Angels Fell - Shawn Smucker
My Review - 5 Stars
Reading The Day The Angels Fell reminded me of how I felt the first time I read the Narnia Chronicles. The stories are different but they're all tales as old as time. And similar to Narnia, I believe it has staying power.
I was swept away by the world-building and the mystery and how the plot ultimately wrestles with Big Picture issues.
The story is framed through the eyes of an adult Sam and then swings back so we can experience everything through 12 year old Sam. It manages to explore the concepts of good and evil, while showing the different effects grief can have on a family.
When Sam's mother dies, it's natural for him to want to do anything for her to come back. But what if he can do exactly that? As his friend Abra and others note, having the ability to do something doesn't mean we should actually do it. Thus begins the central thrust of the novel as Sam tries to find the Tree Of Life.
It was not always easy to watch Sam on this quest. Not only because of the danger he put himself in, as he's not the only human or creature after the Tree. But because of how the quest changes him in ways that are hard to take, like when he lashes out against Abra and ignores his better judgment by listening to Mr. Jinn.
In fact, my reaction to him reminded me of how I felt about Edmund in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. Except instead of stupidly trading your family for gross Turkish Delight, Sam simply wants to have his mom back. And who can't relate to that?
Then ending left me with questions, chief among them: what happened between grown-up Sam and Abra?! I am sure this question will be answered in subsequent books. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how Shawn develops the series and can't wait to read The Edge Of Over There, out this July.
The Day The Angels Fell is richly layered. I loved the characters and the magical elements. The exploration of grief is relatable and there were some great insights along those lines.
Shawn Smucker is a friend of mine and after reading his first YA novel, I'm even more proud to know him. The writing is fantastic, as I knew it would be. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. Most of the kids in my life aren't old enough to read this yet but I'm looking forward to sharing it with them someday.
“For the first time in my life I realized the power of truth and truth telling, how knowing and telling the truth will always give you the upper hand over someone who is being malicious or deceitful or even simply withholding information. But I was too afraid to tell the truth. It’s always one fear or another that makes us lie.” p. 210
It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident. As he recalls the tumultuous events that launched a surprising journey, Samuel can still hardly believe it all happened.
After his mother's death, twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life--the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?
Haunting and hypnotic, The Day the Angels Fell is a story that explores the difficult questions of life in a voice that is fresh, friendly, and unafraid. With this powerful debut, Shawn Smucker has carved out a spot for himself in the tradition of authors Madeleine L'Engle and Lois Lowry.
Buy The Book Here:
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. Affiliate links included in this post.