Convention of Statesmen


Review of Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury

I have to admit, I was excited to read Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury, a return missionary and BYU graduate, because the premise of the story was startling, yet mildly intriguing. Enough so, that I agreed to review the book when asked.

So let me share with you the backliner and see if you are intrigued as well, then I will offer my review:

Over the past six months, Rachel Forsythe's perfect life has descended from the ideal to the tragic. The younger of her two daughters is dying of cancer. Despite her standing as the wife of a respected Mormon bishop, neither God nor medical science has blessed her with a cure. Or has He?

Milada Daranyi, chief investment officer at Daranyi Enterprises International, has come to Utah to finalize the takeover of a Salt Lake City-based medical technology company. Bored with her downtown hotel accommodations, she rents a house in the Sandy suburbs.

And the welcome wagon shows up. Her neighbors perceive her to be a beautiful, intelligent and daunting young woman. But Rachel senses something about Milada that leads her in a completely different--and very dangerous--direction.

Rachel's suspicions are right: Milada is homo lamia. A vampire. Fallen. And possibly the only person in the world who can save Rachel's daughter. Uncovering Milada's secrets, Rachel becomes convinced that, as Milton writes, "all this good of evil shall produce."

As the two women push against every moral boundary in order to protect their families, the price of redemption will prove higher than either of them could have possibly imagined.

Okay, here are my thoughts. When I first read this I was taken aback that the author would take the wife of a Mormon bishop, the young daughter of the same, and place them in a scenario directly mocking God and the plan of salvation. So, one might say, this is a work of fiction. And yes, it is that.

But, in reading the author's bio, we find "return missionary and graduate of BYU." One assumes there is a protection which comes from that, or why would they put that in their bio? Writing LDS Fiction comes with a responsibility to our readers. We tacitly promise them we will keep the fiction clean, adhering to the standards of Jesus Christ. Why then does Zarahemla bill itself as an LDS press when clearly, it's pushing the envelope so far it's nowhere near the envelope. Why don't they just shed the LDS element, do whatever they want and we could just chalk them up to another national publisher, albeit a small one, who publishes "that kind of stuff." I think it's false advertising in a HUGE way.

As to the author, why write stuff like this and have the Mormon element included. There was a sex scene, far too detailed, between the bishop and his wife. I was stunned. Had he alluded to it I would have been fine, but no, he felt the need to actually write it. And he has the bishop's wife instigating it because the vampire tells the wife she can't bite her unless she's sexually aroused. What? Are you kidding me?

With Eugene Woodbury's bio I could assume:
  • that the book would be free of lesbian and heterosexual sex. I was wrong.
  • there would be no twisting of scripture and the plan of salvation. I was wrong.
  • the swearing, if there, would be minimal. I was wrong.
  • that the author would not play with the plight of Job, speaking of an unhearing, uncaring God and turning to the devil and his angels to save a life. I was wrong once again.
Jennifer, the younger daughter, has leukemia and has been in a coma in the children's hospital for six months. All hope is lost and the family has come to terms with her eventual death, except for her mother, Rachel. She is willing to deal with the devil in order to save her child's life. In this case, the devil has a name . . . Milada. This way lay madness, even for fiction.

Milada, a vampire, moves next door and Rachel tosses God, the gospel and her child's salvation out the window and cuts a deal with the vampire. You can imagine the natural conclusion of this story. When the child awakens from her coma, now a vampire, she sweetly offers, "God honors these pacts." Plainly stating that God approves of her becoming a vampire. Sheesh, what kind of mother has the author created?

I can suspend quite a bit of disbelief. I like the paranormal element in my fiction, even quite enjoy the way authors come up with a new twist on an old story. I can handle, for fiction's sake, literary license of the gospel. What I cannot handle is the insertion of Mormons into the equation willing to sell their souls to damn the souls of their children. Rachel Forsythe forsook all she believed, all she knew to be true to save the life of her children. She betrayed her husband, her family and most off, she betrayed her dying daughter. Instead of finding a small measure of peace that her daughter would be with loved ones and with God once again, she desperately seeks for other solutions, any solutions. In this case, she somehow decides it's cool that her daughter be a vampire because she'd be alive, sort of.

One thing I did find interesting was Woodbury's explanation of the creation of vampires . . . it was fascinating. Sadly, it was a thread in the story never fully established or explored. It could have been incredible, instead it fell flat.

While Woodbury's writing is very good, the story was robbed of its promise by the unnecessary insertion of the above. Would I be interested in this book if I were not LDS? Maybe, but I would have thrown it in the garbage upon finishing it because the premise was destroyed. What could have been a wonderful story, filled with unique twists and turns, was instead filled with gratuitous "I do not write LDS fiction" scenes which contributed in no way to the story.
x2 -- It is not a story of the redemption of a fallen soul, which could have been very cool, considering all the twists and turns that could have been taken, but rather the destruction of innocence in order to save a life, thereby condemning her to a life of darkness and drinking blood to stay alive. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone. It gets a definite two thumbs down. (I couldn't find a two-thumbs down graphic. We'll have to go with this one.)

236 pages
Zarahemla Books (June 30, 2008)
Language: English
978-0978797164 Sales Rank:
#341,994 in Books

Purchase Angel Falling Softly here. If you must.
Review of Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury Review of Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury Reviewed by Candace Salima on Sunday, July 20, 2008 Rating: 5