Book Review: Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
I enjoy reading a wide variety of paranormal YA books, though at this point very few of them can be called original or trailblazing. Let the Sky Fall is a rare breath of fresh air in the genre, featuring a fascinating and unique world of windwalking sylphs that takes the hallmark features of a paranormal girl meets boy story, and makes them feel shiny and invigorated. I’ve encountered air elementals a few times in paranormal fiction, but usually just as side characters, never the main event, and never in such a thrilling, addictive story.
Shannon Messenger is skilled at creating worlds I want to visit. I loved her middle grade fantasy, Keeper of the Lost Cities, so I wasn’t too surprised to be completely swept up in the world of Let the Sky Fall. The Stormers are searching for the last Westerly, Vane Weston, and the Gale Force is doing everything possible to hide and protect him. An orphan with a traumatic past and secret powers who must uncover them before evil arrives to claim him isn’t exactly the most original plot formula in existence, but it was handled with skill by Messenger, and the resulting story was so much fun.
My favorite parts of Let the Sky Fall:
I’m terrified of tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes and basically any out of control weather, and that fear translates into rabid fascination, so reading about carefully wielded wind funnels and killer category 5 tornadoes was thrilling for me. Windwalkers command the four winds in their native tongue. They can hitch a ride on a wind, wield them as weapons, and regain their strength with a purifying, frenzied blast. Add windwalking to the long list of superpowers I’d love to take for a spin.
A wispy wind tickles my fingers. An Easterly—finally, a stroke of luck.
Soft, untraceable murmurs bend the draft to my will, wrapping it around me. When I’m completely entangled in the feathery breeze, I breathe one final command in the Easterly language and surrender to the force of its power.
The word sounds like a hiss, and the wind races away, pulling me along with it.
Audra the Guardian
Audra is a tough, self-possessed windwalker who has sacrificed everything in her life to become a Gale Force guardian. She’s charged with protecting Vane, a task complicated by his wiped memory and lack of powers. Audra does her best to do her job while remaining on the fringes of his life, but in a bind she has to step in and call in a protective wind that reveals their location in the Coachella valley to the Stormers. Hiding painful secrets, Audra has to bring Vane up to speed on who he really is and how to use his powers, and quickly, before the Stormers tear his home apart looking for him. Audra gives off serious Rose Hathaway vibes, seeming at once a confident badass and a vulnerable teen girl, and she has an equally complicated relationship with her mother. I immediately warmed to her voice, and this first impression was strengthened by the end of the book into full on heroine love.
The Last Westerly
Vane doesn’t remember much about his past or the fateful day of the tornado when he lost his parents, but he remembers Audra, though he’s pretty sure she’s just a dream. So when his dream girl shows up looking even more gorgeous than he imagined and tries to push him into remembering a secret magical past and uncovering his powers, he responds like a normal teenage guy would—with a bit of sarcastic disbelief, but mostly with hormone-driven enthusiasm. Vane is sweet and chivalrous, which seems comical and all the more adorable next to Audra’s strength, and he bravely embraces his destiny to protect his human adoptive family and avenge the death of his sylph parents. I loved his down-to-earth voice and his earnestness. It was impossible to avoid having a crush on him by the end.
Forbidden Romance that Sizzles
Audra and Vane have amazing chemistry, and Audra is literally the girl of Vane’s dreams. She knows she isn’t allowed to kiss Vane, because kissing, or “bonding” is serious business in the world of windwalkers, so their rapidly growing attraction as they work to prepare for the Stormers is definitely a problem. The alternating POV works really well to build romantic tension, as we watch these two train and challenge each other, and we see firsthand how they can’t help but fall for each other.
Word of warning: this book will make you crave In & Out Burger.
If, like me, you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet, you might be tempted to cheat while reading Let the Sky Fall—there is gratuitous Animal Style burger worship. I don’t even like burgers that much, but I love In & Out, and this book made me crave it enough to go back. If you’re a vegetarian you’re (probably) safe.
My biggest problem with the story is that there was pretty tremendous buildup to the final confrontation, and it passed too quickly for my liking. That being said, I was surprised by a pretty major twist, and the hint of much more unfinished business in future books served to further justify all that came before this book’s showdown. I’m sure some people will think the novel is too slow, but the pace totally worked for me. The book’s strength is in engaging characters and romantic buildup, and it takes its time letting the characters wrap their fingers around our emotions. I’m very excited to see what the next book in the series brings!
Watch the trailer:
Shannon’s Pre-order Contest:
There’s still time to enter Shannon’s pre-order contest for Let the Sky Fall. If you pre-order a copy before March 4th, you’ll get a bookplate and bookmark, plus be entered to win a Let the Sky Fall necklace and a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card.