fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Nina Kiriki Hoffman Fall of LightFall of Light by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

(Note: Fall of Light is a “sideways sequel” to A Fistful of Sky. It refers back to some of the things that happened in A Fistful of Sky, but you could read Fall of Light on its own without any problem.)

Opal LaZelle (sister to Gypsum LaZelle of A Fistful of Sky) is a Hollywood makeup artist who specializes in making monsters for horror movies. What no one else realizes is that she can also do magic, and uses her talent to help in her work. On one movie however, the Dark God mask she makes for the leading actor, who she has fallen in love with, actually comes with a surprise: the Dark God himself possesses the actor. Now it’s up to Opal to figure out how to save the movie, and the man she loves, from this unwelcome guest.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a talented writer. She manages to create intriguing characters who the reader can empathize with. She deftly handles serious issues, especially the effect of dysfunctional parenting on children. Hoffman also has a gift for descriptive writing. I could easily see all the scenes in my mind as I was reading.

Unfortunately, the problem with writing a book that takes place in a cheesy horror movie is that your book reads like a cheesy horror movie. Opal knows the actor is possessed by an unknown power that has shown he is capable of hurting and manipulating people, yet she decides to sleep with him anyway. I felt like yelling, “Don’t go into the basement alone!” All the stupid things that people do in bad horror movies showed up here.

Another source of irritation was the excessive amount of extraneous background detail; it felt like Hoffman was trying to prove that she had done her research rather than creating a believable world. In addition, the pace was awkward. After the big showdown at the end of the book, I felt like echoing one of the main characters: “That’s it?” The menacing presence Opal had imbued into her Dark God throughout the entire book wasn’t found in the climax and, along with a major plot line not being resolved, makes me wonder if there is supposed to be a sequel to Fall of Light.

Readers who enjoy sexy dark god characters and quasi-vampire relationships may enjoy Fall of Light more than I did, but I would not recommend this book to a general audience. I felt like I was watching a bad Sci-Fi Channel original movie.

Opal LaZelle is a special effects make-up artist, transforming actors into fantastical and grotesque creatures. Unknown to the casts and crews of the films she works on, Opal is gifted in the art of magic – and she applies more than make-up when altering an actor’s features. Her latest job requires turning Corvus Weather into a dark god of the forest. But when Corvus’s performance becomes too convincing – on set and off – Opal realizes he’s not acting. Something has taken possession of Corvus. Something sinister tied to the town’s past, with the ability to absorb the very essence of life. Something Opal doesn’t have enough power to confront, much less drive from the man she has fallen in love with.


  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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