Fallen Land: A Novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
An Indie Next pick, an Okra 2016 Winter Selection, and a SIBA Bestseller!
Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward. Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South. Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers. In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives. Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.
though there was little to drink and less to eat. They stopped within the cover of the trees so as not to be seen from the valley below. When the boy dismounted his horse, old Swinney slapped him on the shoulder. “Welcome to Virginny,” said the old man. “Virginia?” said the boy, his eyes going wide with wonder. “That’s right. Colonel wants you to see if they got anything to eat down there.” The boy nodded. He crept toward the edge of the trees, his face dark amid the shadows. He could feel
trail. The horse wended between these with high and careful steps. By noon they were descending the far side of the pass. They broke upon a green-grassed bald on which a handful of meatless and bone-ridden cattle stared dumbly at them. They galloped across the soft turf as fast as they dared, acutely aware of their exposure to the sparse stands of trees on every side. No shots. Callum’s fever had gone, but the image of the bounty hunter yet haunted his mind. Details he’d not previously
her head at him. “What’s wrong? Afraid mine’s bigger?” “Shit,” said Callum, dismissive. But he was. Toward dusk they left the road along a scarce tangent of trail. They needed a place to bed down for the night. The trail ran crookedly amid a thick and shadowy growth of firs. They flushed a brace of grouse, fat-bodied birds that had taken up shelter in the evergreens. As they skittered through the air, Callum wished for the shotgun lying beside the would-be whiskey poacher. They would need
second day, the creek cut straight across a plantation, and they stopped at a little distance to survey the place. “Think we ought to chance it?” Ava asked. Callum was squinting at the place. Everything was burned, even the big house. “I think it’s all right,” he said. “I don’t see anybody around.” They rode on, in between the fallen structures, tie beams and king posts jutting out of the wreckage like blackened bones. There were smoky bottles gathered in the ashes of the dairy, a big horned
singing just for him, him and Ava, like the chorus to a play the singers would never see. The young boy looked up toward the bluff but didn’t seem to see them among the trees. Callum coaxed the horse forward. He hoped the boy’s vision was lacking, not prescient. They rode on, looking for a place to cross. “There!” said Ava. Callum looked where she was pointing. There was a spot where the near bank had caved under the hooved descent of a cavalry force. On the far shore they could see the