Mike Driver’s use of characterization in Fall, Leaves, Fall is outstanding. James is damaged, neurotic, and more than slightly unstable, but he’s also a survivor, and his first-person narration is peppered with small, humanizing touches. We’ve all known someone a little bit like James, and the authenticity of that character brings the events unfolding in the plot onto a much more personal level, all of it framed in the wet dreariness of an English town in early winter.
The horror elements are drawn in via memories, dreams, and flashbacks, leaving the reader to wonder whether the events are real, or figments of James’s imagination. The mystery is also well written, the use of first person allowing the author to leave the final twist to be as much a surprise to the reader as to James.
This was a really well-done horror, leaving a lot to the reader's imagination, and based on a character who doesn't actually come across as all that tough. James is basically broken to start with, and it's all too easy to imagine just how helpless he could be if it came to a crunch. Not to mention, if you're wondering what England's like in the winter, well, read this book, because the scene-setting rings utterly true. I don't read a lot of horror, but this book got four stars anyway, because of the characters and the really nice, subtle, slide-the-shadows-in-sideways style of the horror.
Design Dude cover design review: While the main image of an autumn trees certainly ties into the title and the story, the odd super dark shadows at the top and bottom of the cover are baffling? What is their purpose? Are they supposed to convey a dark, emotional tone? If that was the goal, why not just find an autumn photo with a dark, gloomy sky? If the designer and/or author just fell in love with this image for some reason but felt it needed to communicate a darker mood, there are countless ways this could have been accomplished more effectively than simply dropping on opaque shadows at the top and bottom.
The typography is also confusing. The all-caps title and author name set in all-caps with an old-fashioned, slab-serif typeface is a bit boring to say the least and the odd orange glow surrounding it seems pointless.
Overall, this cover is a good example of why indie authors really need to hire professional designers who understand book cover design. Based on the positive review from our guest reviewer JC Steel, it seems a shame the cover design may be hindering the success of a solid book.
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