Released to the public on September 3rd of 2018, Violet Grace’s novel The Girl Who Fell tells the tale of Francesca ‘Chess’ Raven, an adolescent girl living with a woman named Gladys after the death of her parents. Chess Raven is a hacker, and becomes swept away in a grand and interesting adventure after the discovery of a world–full of magical creatures and dark secrets–that her mother had mysterious connections to. Along the way, she will band against unspeakable adversaries in her quest to discover the true nature of both herself and the world her parents have left for her.
Grace’s novel draws inspiration from many famous young adult tropes, such as the no-nonsense female lead, the mysterious death of parents, and an induction into a magical universe that they have never experienced before, and while these tropes have worked well for a wide variety of novels, spanning over both young adult and middle-grade fiction, Grace fails to bring something new to the table with Chess Raven and the first book in what appears to be a trilogy. These tropes make the novel rather bland and predictable, making for a rather uninteresting and tiresome read.
As well as this, the romance that grows between our titular character and her childhood friend Tom once again failed to intrigue me. With a growing sense of apathy towards this novel, Grace in no way intrigued me with this growing romance, which was nothing I hadn’t seen before. Whether this love was made to appeal to a wider audience, I do not know, but the rather abrupt introduction to the relationship in no way seemed to help the plot in any way.
Additionally, the element of fantasy in this novel–in the way of unicorns, monsters and magic–seemed to contradict the other elements of the story. I found myself to not be as invested in the fantasy component of the novel due to the fact that I found the introductory chapters to be too far grounded in the real world. While this has worked for novels such as Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters series, Grace failed to incorporate this particular set of scenery in order for it to correctly correlate with the fantasy scenes throughout the novel.
All in all, this was a rather disappointing read. The characters were shallow, the plot was mediocre and the writing was in no way particularly stellar. I highly doubt that I will be reading the final two novels in the series with any particular haste.