At Death’s Door by Astrid V Tallaksen


Being a fallen angel used to be easy. A quiet life with the people she loves is all Sara ever asked for. Unfortunately, the apocalypse didn’t get the message. After nearly losing everything, she’s managed to put her life back together and start living what she hoped was happily ever after with her small family. Now she wants nothing more than to hide away and pretend the end of the world is a distant rumor. Her life has already been torn apart once. Doesn’t she deserve a break?

The apocalypse finds its way back to her doorstep when a letter arrives. Is it a friendly warning, a dire threat, or a simple reminder that she can’t run away from what’s to come? Sara refuses to take heed and pays dearly for her avoidance. With her family in danger and the preservation of free will hanging in the balance, she finds herself with no other choice. Sara must follow the path forged for her, a path that may take away everything she holds dear and leave her in pieces at the end. She’s caught between Heaven and Hell, and the last person she’d ever have considered trusting might just be her greatest ally.

Rating: DNF

“Unfortunately, the more you try and shut out the ghosts who need you to listen, the louder they shout. And the more you try to get your family to understand, the crazier they thunk you are.”

I LOVED the beginning. It holds all the information you need about the character and who she is in just two sentences. I thought this was perfect. But, as of writing the start of this review, I haven’t finished Heaven and Hell, and it’s the reason behind the ‘0 stars’ rating. I still have book 2 to read, so I’m going to try and finish this to get to book 2, but we’ll see.

Review -June 10th 2015

From the start, it was a bit vague on where this story was going. I really loved that she could see the spirits and that they were talking about the apocalypse. It set the story up brilliantly before it really started and had my interest.

Demons and Angles??! I use to be a HUGE Buffy fan and currently struggling to stay with Supernatural, but anything to do with angels and/or demons, and I’m sold.

I really wanted to like this book. The amount of details and angel-folklore that went into tiny sentences is AMAZING, and I was going to give it 1-star just for that, but I have to stick to my own rating-system, or I’d get confused.

The novel starts with the protagonist, Sara, waking up in a hospital, not knowing where her family or little son have disappeared to, until the mysterious Daniel comes to see her and has all the answers she is looking for…. sounds great, right?

This is so frustrating, because everything is there for it to be AWESOME. The execution of said story, just fails. The chapters are just way too long and could easily be broken up smaller- to make a hell of a lot more manageable. But it doesn’t stop there, nearly everything is described in dialogue, there is SO MUCH dialogue that I couldn’t even phantom a normal person speaking. This dialogue came along with zero description. So, a character’s speech can hold the most brilliant details, but it sounds like babble, so it reads like babble.

“No,” he laughed although the mirth didn’t reach his eyes, “you ghosts. They’re a part of all of this.” 

“Part of all what? How do you know I’m not crazy? Why can’t you get me out of her right now? Why do you even care?” 

See? Even this little snippet could have- and should have- been made longer with more description on what the protagonist was doing or feeling, as it stands it just sounds like she’s firing him with all those questions without taking a breather for him to answer.

I originally wanted to quit at 35%, but I pushed through till 51%, and for the next few hours at least, I have to call it quits.

Rhythm and speed just don’t exist in this book. That is one of the key factors I always notice. Action speeds things up, but still at a steady space, and we don’t need whole pages of description when we’ve just had multiple long-winded dialogue. Everything should be in proportion with one another, to make everything….flow.

One of the first major flowing issues that jumped out to me was describing the character panicking at the start. Rather than describe that the character was panicking, it was plainly just stated:

“resting my elbows on the table and my forehead in my palms. Falling apart, panicking wasn’t an option.”

I’d rather feel what the characters are feeling rather than being told she put her head in her hands and she was having an emotional crises.

Then the character repeats everything that was stated beforehand with:

“I havent seen anything since you changed my meds after I tried to hurt the nurse and had to be tied up. Once the meds stopped me from seeing things. I started feeling better in general, it made me hopeful about life and going home and all. I’m sure my neighbours and friends look care of my apartment and all.” 

See? People don’t generally talk so specific.

The character is also supposed to be a grown woman, but she acts like a immature teenager at certain stages in the story. I can’t imagine her being a grown woman or even an angel, I would have thought there would be a lot more maturity to her if she was. Example:

Well, it looks like I got a chance to try out my shiny new talent.” I pointed out, wiggling my fingers. “Although, I guess it’s not exactly shiny and new.”

When they have their first confrontation while leaving the hospital, I didn’t exactly know who the people were and it was WAY too unbelievable on what was happening. I just think there should be more time and more description to the whole ‘escaping the hospital’ part. Action should have been exciting and gotten my pulse racing, but it didn’t. I know this is me pleading for this to be as good a story as it could have been…

The characters also tend to just do things for the sake of having something to do. They just got attacked, right? Sara doesn’t have a clue what is going on, and her and Daniel just kiss…just like that. Ummm…I know now what they are to one another, but I think after being attacked, saving her arse, and knowing that she doesn’t have a dicky-bird’s clue on whats going on, that Daniel would ease off for just a bit, until she’s all caught up with whats going on.

Another point I want to make out…the big reveals are all brushed over. I wanted them to have more impact. Okay, one major reveal is the whole angels….I mean WTH??! Sara finds out about ANGELS….But there isn’t a pause or a moment to clarify, she just laughs in one sentence and then goes on to ask questions…WHAT? I think most sane people would just stare at said ‘angel’ and think they should be in the loony bin.

The ghosts and dead people, who I thought we were going to see ALOT of, disappear for whole chapters. Then, as if it was just remembered she could see dead people, it was plopped into the story that they were still around the house…I would have liked to have found out more about them. Get their backstories, their names, give them little characteristics like a little boy keeps switching on all the lights to get her attention. It could have been a lot more fun and interesting, than just being reminded by one sentence that she can see them. That these spirits are floating around while the story is going on.

I’ll try and give this book another go in the next few hours, because I have book two to read, but right now I’m just finding it really dull and not exciting enough to keep my attention. I do need to applaud the author though, she has so much details on angels and how it all works that I actually screamed in frustration. It should have been an amazing read. The reason this review is so long, is out of my anger and frustration. I wanted to love it. It physically pained me to write this review and it probably hurts to read it too. I may come back to add to this- if I get back into the story- but as of right now, this is the review.

Author Bio

AstridTallaksenphotoAstrid V. Tallaksen grew up with a heart for stories of creatures and places outside of this world. Her love of reading quickly became a love of writing. She spent several years creating content and helping writers to improve their craft on the online world of Althanas, a creative writing workshop in the guise of a roleplaying forum. A self-avowed nerd, Astrid loves science fiction, comic books, and eighties fantasy movies in the vein of The Princess Bride and Labyrinth. Her geekiness extends to annual volunteer work at the massive sci-fi convention known as Dragon*con every year in Atlanta, Georgia. In the odd times that she’s not immersed in geekdom or writing, Astrid loves to sing karaoke, crochet, and spend time with her family and pets.


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