Though Heaven Fall: A Medieval Parable

Written by Jeri Westerson
Review by Stephen Shaw

Medieval England provides the context for converging storylines of madness, monks and murder. An itinerant crippled beggar saves the life of a confused stranger claiming to be an angel, and begrudgingly takes him under his own angry wing. It is a complex relationship- it is pleasingly unclear who is helping the other more. At the same time, an aging knight, aching in body and advancing in age (with a penchant for existential musings), is sent on a parallel journey to retrieve a dangerous wayward lunatic monk, escaped from confinement in a monastery. Their paths collide as the situation becomes serious – there is a murder that needs to be solved, and more than a few scapegoats are lying around. That the narrative path is well-worn does not detract from the freshness of the prose; most of the characters are clearly defined and believable. The denouement leans towards a feeling of deus ex machina, but this does not harm the story or impede the reading in any way.

The writing is brisk, clear and grips the reader from the outset, with a rich evolution of the plot at precisely the right pace. Westerson is at home with the genre and craft of writing. There is a welcome mixture of humor and substance to the dialogue that blends well with the mud and dust of the roads the characters walk. Suitable for all audiences down to pre-teens, especially for those who enjoy the lines between mortal and angel blurred.