top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Review: Godfall - Van Jensen


Genre: Sci-fi, Mystery/thriller

Published: Independently Published by the author, May 2024

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Sleeping Giants meets a Blake-Crouch-style mystery in this gripping blend of science fiction and murder-mystery.


Years ago, a mysterious, unpredicted asteroid crash-lands on the outskirts of a remote Nebraskan town. Except once the smoke clears, it reveals itself not to be an asteroid at all, but a strange crystalline spire, containing the remains of what appears to be a three-mile-tall dead alien. This event soon turns Little Springs into a hotbed for scientists, government-workers, military and alien-enthusiasts an ritualistic conspiracy-theorists, upending life for the isolated townsfolks for good.


Some time later, we follow David Blunt, seasoned sheriff of Little Springs as he’s confronted with a series of gruesome murders, seemingly linked to The Alien Giant’s appearance. He soon finds himself in a cat-and-mouse-game with a killer, except the mice are the family, friends and town-folk he grew up with all his life.


What I liked:

Jensen knocked it out of the park with this indie novel-debut! Suspenseful, original and tightly paced: Godfall had my eyes glued to the page from start to finish. It nails it sense of setting with regards to the small-town dynamics happening in the background and the existential strangeness of the giant alien construction in the forefront. Somehow, it manages to balance these two different genres perfectly in a gradual reveal of intertwining plotlines with a well-earned solution in the end.

What truly exceeded my expectations were the characters. Despite featuring quite a big cast of townsfolks, each of them felt memorable and fleshed out. Special mentions to David, the archetypical police-detective, but with a slight twist, and Charlotte, whom complexity as a character added a deeper layer to the story.

As far as murder-mysteries with a sci-fi twist go: this was a 5-star for me.



Notes on diversity:

This book had a lot more diversity and representation than I was expecting. It makes for simultaneously some of its best and worst moments. As mentioned: I loved Charlottes character and the way her transgender identity was handled. She grew up in Little Springs in the body of a boy, and has since transitioned into a woman, which colours many of her interactions with the townsfolks she knew in her previous life and is now forced to reconnect with. Many of the conversations surrounding the topic of transgender identity were quite powerful, without being preachy or heavy-handed, and I applaud the author for how they handled this.

When it comes to disability/illness, there is some representation I was less thrilled about. Although it didn’t detract from my personal enjoyment of the book too much, I know these tropes are dealbreakers for some. HEAVY SPOILERS BELOW, so proceed with caution.


For those who'd rather avoid spoilers: you can find a copy of this novel here on Goodreads.

Many thanks to the author and Brilliance Audio for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.



 

SPOILERS BELOW:


- There is a form of the magical healing-trope in which a character with dementia is suddenly “cured” of their affliction by the alien influence for 2 minutes each night. Just enough to provide essential plot-information and heartwarming closure to our characters.


- There is also a part that could be considered vilification of a character with disability the killer turns out to be an amputee, who’s “convinced to do the aliens bidding” at the promise of the restoration of his lost arm. There’s quite a powerful parallel made between the loss of this characters arm, and Charlottes transition into a woman; both being traumatic but necessary for survival. It’s sad to see that this character isn’t given the same chance to overcome his trauma in the same way Charlotte has, and is shown as “ruined by his disability/trauma”

Comments


bottom of page