Fallen by E. Prybylski

January 14, 2022

A newly-fallen angel accused of murder, Cassiel must save an elven girl and face demons—both literal and personal. She knows she isn’t the best person for the job, but she’s the only one who can do it. The police are ill-equipped to handle demons, even with magic, and time is running out. Cassiel and her friends—a disabled human veteran, a reformed elven gangbanger, and an ex-marine orc—face the hardest fight of their lives. 

Moving on from the creepy cosmic science fiction from earlier in the week today I’m taking a gander at the new urban fantasy novel Fallen by E. Prybylski.

There is an interesting duality in the main character. As an ancient heavenly warrior, Cassiel is imbued with the arts of conflict. It is her purpose, the reason to exist. This is perfectly illustrated at one point when she is presented with a gun for the first time. She has never seen one before but she knows everything about how it works, how to maintain it and how to use it. The flipside to all this deadly knowledge is her innocence and naivety when it comes to absolutely anything else. Initially, Cassiel takes everything quite literally, which does lead to a handful of dryly comic moments. As time passes however, you begin to appreciate the continual evolution that is occurring within. Cassiel is picking up on the subtle nuances of the human condition. I like the idea of a character beginning as a clean slate and we get to watch them grow in front of us.

I’m not going to dwell on the other characters too much. You can discover them for yourself. That said, Dust was a personal favourite.

I don’t consider myself religious, but I do find the mythology that surrounds this story, and by extension organised religion as a whole, fascinating. The endless battle between the forces of the ultimate good versus ultimate evil is always going to draw me in. I tend to think the vast majority of us inhabit that grey area of existence that lies somewhere in-between both these forces. We are all capable of greatness but by the same measure were are also capable of cruelty. This is the sort of philosophical dilemma that keeps me awake at night. Fallen explores how we define our internal moral compass and how it shapes who we are.

On top of that metaphysical conundrum other races like orcs, elves, vampires and shapeshifters have also been added into the mix. This allows for an extra layer of social commentary to be slotted into the narrative and it’s done seamlessly. For example, racism is rife between the various groups. Ogres, trolls and orcs are considered lesser beings by the elves due to their lumbering forms and lack of inherent grace. The author also plays with stereotypes. I think this may be the first time I have come across a down at heel elf. The mean streets of this otherworldly Boston are no place for the likes of your high-born Legolas type. Real societal problems like drug abuse and gang culture are rife. Pairing these issues with non-human fantastical races adds an extra layer of depth to the plot.

Prybylski’s worldbuilding offers some tantalising hints regarding her wider fantasy world. There is mention of brutal “dog fights” featuring shapeshifters, and wizards also get a shout out. This left me wanting to know more which I guess is exactly what the first book in any good series should do. If you are a fan of series like The Dresden Files, or Supernatural is your bag, then Fallen could well be your next obsession. Don’t be fooled though by the crispy fantastical coating that surrounds this book though. Yes, there are angels and demons, elves and orcs but there is more to it than that. Fallen offers insight into what makes us tick. Cassiel has a blistering honest view of the world, her adventures highlight both the best and worst in humanity.

With book one in the Smoke and Magic series, the author has crafted a rock-solid premise that offers endless opportunities. By the end of the novel, the main characters have been well established and a larger overarching narrative is beginning to reveal itself. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Fallen is published by Insomnia Publishing and is available now.

My musical recommendation to accompany this novel is the soundtrack to The Sinner by Ronit Kirchman. It has a modern, ethereal quality that dovetails nicely with the tone of the book.



  • Gray Silva January 14, 2022 at 10:21 am

    This sounded right up my street and then you mentioned Dresden…..Now I absolutely have to read this.
    Damn you Eloquent Page. I have D.I.Y I’m supposed to be getting on with! 😂

    • pablocheesecake January 14, 2022 at 10:59 am

      Distracting you from DIY was my plan all along!

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