Whenever I find myself reviewing the second part of a series, particularly after back-to-back readings (I read Rise of One the day before Fall of Two), I always worry about whether I’ll have much new to say. If a continuation is similar to its predecessor, should I simply copy and paste the review and switch out some details? Thankfully, book two in Dixon Reuel’s Blood Brute series left me with no such quandary.
In my review for Rise of One, I mused whether, given it being a story predominantly taking in a sanctuary from the world’s horrors, whether it took inspiration from Covid-19. Fall of Two also largely takes place in a confined space, albeit a smaller one, swapping out the Owl Court from book one for a prison cell. With such a confined space setting the scene, it is a testament to Reuel’s writing that Fall of Two feels bigger.
Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, however; in a number of ways, Fall of Two feels like two very distinct books. Once again comprising the three act structure broken into parts, the first feels distinct from the second and third. At roughly one third of the book’s 327 pages (in hardcover and paperback; an estimated 329 swipes for people reading the digital versions), this opening part is slow going. I commented on the deliberate pace that Reuel committed to in Rise of One. However, the pacing of Fall of Two’s opening act does not feel quite as deliberate. It is slow to the point where I was wondering if the author had been padding it out, filling space where there is less story to tell.
Once Fall of Two moves into its second act, however, the pace increases and the story kicks into high gear. I feel as though the author could have excised sections of Part One in the name of expedience, moving through the necessary exposition before letting the story unravel. As it unravels from here, it does so beautifully, expanding the world Reuel has written, and increasing the stakes (no vampire pun intended). The story from here moves at a quicker pace, suiting the story nicely as the protagonist, the vampire Rise, deals with his captors and plots his escape.
Throughout the story, Reuel introduces the reader to a host of new characters, largely developed in more interesting ways than the characters before them. Those continuing from the first book, particularly Rise himself, are developed further, the character growing through a strong arc as faced with new threats and starting to see the potential of his power. While I thoroughly enjoyed Rise of One’s story, once Fall of Two got moving, I found myself enjoying it all the more.
However, while crafting a more enjoyable story, the writing throughout Fall of Two feels less deliberate. Reuel manages to bring a strong atmospheric sense to the book, but this atmosphere doesn’t stand out and throw you right into the story as it did the first. Part of this can be attributed to the first act which felt unnecessarily padded, and the increased pace in act two leaves less space to focus on the atmosphere.
While I have commented on my issues with the pacing in Part One of the book, the prose as a whole doesn’t resonate as strongly as it did in the first book. It is something that I noticed throughout the book, but it definitely stood out more in the opening act. I don’t know if it’s the proofreading or editing not being as successful this time, or just the author’s writing, but it was filled with large chunks of text, with overly large paragraphs and convoluted sentences. Additionally, there were a number of instances where extra words were peppered through the text, making it more difficult to read than it needed to be.
As with Rise of One, I still didn’t find myself to be a particular fan of the dialogue, but again, this is largely attributable to the author’s stylistic decisions, rather than failing to write the characters well. One aspect I did enjoy more than its predecessor is the different character voices, which are more distinct from one another.
Despite the misgivings I’ve outlined above, Rise of Two remains a thoroughly enjoyable story. The tale escalates brilliantly for a worthy successor to the original, and all the twists and turns feel logical in the larger tapestry. It is at its strongest in Parts Two and Three, where, while the pace is never quick—generally, it is stronger for it—it has increased, and builds to a rollicking end.
Much like Rise of One, if you enjoy tales of suspense, I truly recommend Fall of Two. Some aspects didn’t hit home as strongly as they could have, and yet, as I progressed through the second and third acts, I found myself enjoying it more. Blood Brute is shaping up to be a great series, and I’m curious to see where the author takes it next.
“This way.” Rise grabbed Cypriot’s bony elbow and brought them before the baleful gaze of a unicorn, whose pearlescent-thread horn speared the plump belly of a lion, who in turn mauled the unicorn’s throat. Rise hadn’t noticed their death-embrace before. Standing before such a tapestry, cold fear washed through him again.Fall of Two: Blood Brute, Book Two, Chapter 11: “Glum Shadows”
Fall of Two: Blood Brute, Book Two was provided by the BookSirens for the purpose of an honest review.
Fall of Two is available in paperback, hardcover and eBook from retailers, including—but not limited to—Amazon.
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Fall of Two: Blood Brute – Book 2 – Dark Urban Paranormal Fantasy