From its very first line, A Dark Fall pulls no punches. We slide straight into Jake Lawrence's shadowy world of crime, violence and omniscient drug lords evocative of the East End world of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Dropped into Jake's mind in the midst of a confrontation, it's a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart, visceral, dangerous, edgy, and just a taste of what Alex Marlowe, a well-bred, well-off, privileged doctor—in short, everything Jake is not—is about to confront when he turns up at her just-closed surgery, bleeding and in need of off-the-record help.
The story deftly shifts to Dr Alex Marlowe's point of view as she tackles the difficult situation of having to patch up a powerful, brooding man who neither looks at her nor barely speaks to her, while his companion, a thug, menaces and threatens her throughout. Despite the incongruity of her situation she becomes exquisitely aware of the enigmatic man she is tending, sensing his intensity, restrained power and purposeful quiet. A silent chemistry awakens and simmers between them, forbidden, dark, unthinkable. In the days after, as events unfold and Alex moves step by hesitant step toward the one she senses will be her undoing, she risks everything to follow the beating of her heart.
Big questions and themes rear from the roiling surface of this sensual story of love and lust, which is by turns both delicious and disturbing. We wonder who Jake Lawrence really is as we witness moments of his violent, possessive, caged side. Yet, at other times we glimpse something else, something other, something untainted: a pure thread of good, lost among the tattered, dark, bloodstained ones. We sense Jake is looking for his redemption, but from what? He is a closed book, and only reveals himself in painfully small vignettes. We live throughout the story in Alex's mind, suffer her insecurities, her fears, uncertainties and doubts. We can never be sure of anything, except how alive she feels when she is with him, how much she needs him and how much he says he needs her.
But can their burgeoning love stand in the face of their opposing worlds and the people who surround them? Can their passion withstand what will be demanded from them as they travel down darker and darker paths, together and within themselves, discovering truths they have shied from all their lives. A Dark Fall isn't a merely a story of forbidden love, it is a story of growth, of redemption and of what it means to be authentic in a world filled with inauthenticity. It questions the standards dictated by society, and the barriers we make to prevent ourselves from breaching them.
A Dark Fall is a beautiful book, filled with stunning internalisations, vivid detail, and breathtaking love scenes, all while tackling uncomfortable truths about prejudices, societal biases, and whether one can ever be truly worthy of redemption.
Ms Drake is an author to watch, hers is a rare talent, her books raw, passionate, yet measured. Evocative of Donna Tartt, Ms Drake's voice is fresh and powerful, observant, compelling, unforgettable. A Dark Fall is available on Wattpad. Five out of five stars.