Man has free will, and guardian angels have an eternal place in the holy host.
When unexpected feelings interfere with Malchediel’s guidance of a mortal being, he must decide if his love for one man is true, or the work of the devil. Charged with the soul of handsome but suicidal Bran Weller, Malchediel faces a new challenge: Bran’s steadfast belief that homosexuality is not wrong despite the Church’s view of his lifestyle.
In the course of his angelic duties, Mal is tempted to turn a blind eye to long-standing rules of guardianship as he falls in love with his charge. Torn between faith in God and belief that every man deserves love, Malchediel must find a way to balance heart and soul or risk a Fall to Hell.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Fallen is another guardian angel book but it has a unique style in presenting the story. Told in first person, present tense the novella follows guardian angel Mal as he experiences life and love in an entirely new way. So much that Mal is no longer happy in Heaven. After falling in love with his human charge Bran, Mal is called to atone in Heaven. Although Mal knows he’s sinned, he’s not sure he’s sorry. Yet Mal doesn’t know how an angel and a human can ever be together.
The story centers around the philosophical questions of whether homosexuality is a sin and whether religion is really God’s word. The two main characters Mal and Bran meet on the first page and then almost immediately get into a deep religious conversation. On the one hand this is pretty bizarre in that it makes almost no sense. Even feeling a strong first connection to someone, I find it hard to believe the natural turn of conversation would be religion and whether homosexuality is wrong. For a good majority of the story these questions are debated and Mal has long internal monologues on the topics.
Yet it’s a credit to the writing and the story that I could suspend disbelief enough to go with it. Considering Mal is a guardian angel, one of God’s workers, and possessing a near blind faith, in some ways the conversation really does make sense. I just had a hard time buying into the fact that Bran would be so easy going and happy to have such a discussion on a mere hours’ long acquaintance. Likewise the two men fall in love almost instantly. This is more understandable for Mal who as Bran’s guardian angel is expected to love his charge. Less so for Bran who has no real basis for falling in love with Mal. It can’t be his charm, wit, or intelligence because really Mal displays none of those qualities.
Instead Mal acts like a slow, totally sheltered man. He often has odd bits of knowledge or lack of insight. The choices seem to be based on what can make for an amusing scene rather than what’s logical. This choice works if a reader can get into the story and ignore the issues that sometimes Mal’s knowledge or lack there of makes no sense. The explanation is that as an angel, Mal’s not exposed to the ways of humans. Thus Mal has no real concept of slang or pop culture or most of the things Bran talks about, but I’m left wondering why Bran falls in love at all. Part of the problem is that Bran is rather undeveloped. There is no explanation of why Bran needs a guardian angel. There are references to Bran’s sad state of mind but no reasons or explanations are offered. Bran himself is rather bland and undefined, more like the idea of someone than an actual person.
Another problem is that the writing is extremely formal and very verbose. The awkward diction is meant to convey Mal’s status as an angel. It does show his awkwardness with humans and a more formal thought and speech pattern. Unfortunately this isn’t ever broken up. There is very little dialogue and the story mostly happens in Mal’s internal thoughts. Even the punishment scenes are told in italics as if they happen outside of the main story. This style makes the story difficult to get into and the flow feels choppy. Gradually Mal’s internal monologues relax and become more casual as he becomes more human, yet I feel as though the story is mostly told to you through Mal’s thoughts than shown through his interaction with Bran.
The novella does an admirable job in presenting a difficult and often controversial religious stance and offering a mild, very romantic take on true love between two men. There are some vague lecturing tones but the warmth of Bran’s tone helps soften any overt pandering. Mal displays some good emotion and that just deepens throughout the story, building to the happy ending. This progression is a nice development and gives a very good, solid ending to romance fans. Not without problems, Fallen is still a nice way to spend an hour or two.