Falling Upwards by Kassandra Sims

I just finished reading this book, went online to google it and didn't find much that I agreed with so I'm going to review this one first.

First of all: Ug, why did they call this book "paranormal romance"? That makes it sound like its a romance novel in a paranormal setting. It really felt like a .. contemporary fantasy book to me with romantic elements. There was definite sexual content but it was really vague and mild, not really the type of thing you would find in a pure romance novel – it read like a fantasy novel.

The story starts out with our protagonist Neva on a business trip in Wales. Neva goes to a bar where she encounters a handsome young man who often has young women trying to get his attention. When this man tries to pry himself away from perhaps the 10th one, Neva feels compelled to step in and pretend to be his girlfriend. She doesn't do this because she's interested – she doesn't really know why she does this, only that she feels like a puppet when the words come out. This starts some weirdness in the air and something begins. There on Neva begins to lose track of reality. When she goes home to coastline Alabama she keeps having visions of falling through a pond into another world, weird dreams about a riotious wood, apple trees, and chimes. Her mother and friends are worried, and her sister is ready to commit her. Around Mardi Gras, Neva has begun to accept her madness and decides she knows where the pond she hallucinates about is – her grandparents farm. Neva immediately goes there and jumps in. Almost unsurprisingly she finds herself in another world – she meets fairies, a talking raven and stag, and March – the young Welsh man at the bar. They send her on a quest. March is surly and resigned, as if he has been here before, and has no reason to hope. Neva finds his attitude annoying but feels compelled to finish the quest and go home. Sniping at one another they trek through a wildly imagined land. Many fairytale and mythical elements make appearances (nothing I was expecting) and a reader has many "W..T..eff.." moments. Which I liked! I really enjoyed how unexpected the story was (especially the detailed landscapes), and the growing relationship between March and Neva. The character development, mostly that of Neva and her attitude to dealing with her situation just delighted me. I also liked that March and Neva use modern speech when they argue as it contrasts greatly with their surroundings. The only complaint .. I wish this story was longer! I would have felt more content with two more chapters and a better idea of what really happened in the gap before the final chapter, and yet it is not a bad ending at all. I just want more time with the story and characters. I wanted to turn the book over and open it to the first page to reread it as soon as I finished so I could understand more. Is there a sequel? Want one.

After I read the book, I went on Amazon and looked at a review by HK (you know who I mean). What was she smoking? Don't read her review, it's so wrong, especially this part: "As Neva begins to believe that there is more to the universe than the physical plane starting with the metaphysical feelings of falling in love, she struggles with reality vs. illusion as she enters a realm in which her only realism anchor is March. " What? starting with the metaphysical feelings of falling in love?!  March was the realism anchor? Ahhh? Many reviews seem to glomp onto the insanity/hallucination aspect. I think many people who didn't like the novel did not like the way the story shifts from one location and situation to another, but that is what I liked about the book – it works to convey that "Alice through the Looking Glass" feel. I also found the writing itself very savor-worthy. 8.5 or 9/10.

P.S. This came out April this year and is the author's second book. I'm going to have to look for her first book – "The Midnight Work". That got 2 stars on Amazon so far and I think the complaints are also about the story "jumping around" and I think they wanted paranormal romance with emphasis on romance so I'm not going to listen to them.

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