Title: The Fae and the Fallen
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Series: Gifted Fae Academy (Year One)
Page Length: 275
Publication Date: April 2020
Synopsis: My first kiss nearly killed me—literally.
When 80% of the population is gifted with touch magic, it’s best to keep your hands—and your lips—to yourself. Especially if you’re an ungifted serf like I am.
The problem is, the most dangerous guy at Gifted Fae Academy is the one I want to touch more than anything, even as I draw the attention of the school’s most gorgeous Apprentice Fae.
When my entry exam leads to the revelation that I may not be as Ungifted as I previously believed… well… surviving until graduation might prove harder than I thought—particularly when a certain fatal touch may be worth the risk.
I won The Fae and the Fallen in a Goodreads Giveaway recently and loved it. This urban fantasy alternates between Reina and Kai’s perspective. I like that the chapters alternate in narration between Reina and Kai, especially because Kai comes across as so unlikeable at the start of the story. When reading from his perspective, I gained much more understanding and sympathy for his character.
Kai is an ass, a bully, and his ego is huge. He definitely has issues, what with his parents high and demanding expectations, their continual absence, and their obvious disappointment in him. However, Kai continues to try to live up to their expectations. He also seems impulsive and quick to react based on emotions. Unfortunately, he is not in tune with his emotions and often acts out.
I was the ultimate dickhead, a failure…I understood why my parents never came home. I understood why I was always alone. Something was broken inside me. There was a darkness I couldn’t seem to keep at bay. If I let myself slip up again with Reina, eventually I’d break her too.”
The love triangle between Kai, Reina, and another student only seems to exacerbate Kai’s unpredictability. Though he is a mess of conflicting emotions, Kai shows moments of tenderness and affection that make you sympathize with his character. You can see the insecure and abandoned young man who puts on a tough exterior because he’s been so wounded by those he loves. Reina is the only one who sees through this facade.
Reina is a fascinating protagonist. She seems passive, especially when Kai (and others) treat her poorly. However, she’s very intuitive, especially with Kai, and she seems to know him better than he knows himself. At least, that’s why I think she doesn’t react to his taunting.
Her passivity could be construed as weakness, but I think it’s her strength. She is understanding, empathetic, compassionate, and strong. She’s idealistic and kind. This is a young woman who has experienced major trauma, including the tragic death of her parents and the constant abuse by gifted peers. However, she perseveres.
I also think she deeply loves Kai. I think he loves her too, but he struggles to define his feelings for her and instead tries to push her away. He often expresses feelings of unworthiness. Take a look at this quote, which sums up Kai’s insecurities:
How could I ask her to choose me when I’m so unworthy? She had the chance to be with someone whole. Someone who was programmed for kindness, and I was planning on asking her to wreck it. For me. I was asking her to choose her tormentor over her savior.
Reina is the opposite. She holds onto their past relationship and the goodness she saw in him when they were younger. She’s a better person than me. I would never have defended him and become his champion. He’s selfish, arrogant, and entitled, and the ways that he tormented her were rotten and mean. I would not have been able to look past the years of abuse to understand the reasoning behind his torment.
When the pair tests to get into the academy, one of the professors sums up the difference between Raina and Kai perfectly:
“One looking out for himself, the other striving to protect others…” She tilted her head. “Which of those sound like Fae to you?”
Another aspect of the story that I found fascinating is the interesting way the author presented differing views of their society. The people with power are revered by many. Rewarded for their gifts, they have more power, money, and influence than the serfs. This story examines the societal inequities and makes you wonder who is truly good. The line between good and evil is often blurred, and I questioned the unfair ways of their society more than once.
Some people, both fae and serfs, disagree with how society is run and want to evoke change. Though I definitely don’t agree with their methods, I can understand their desire for change. I also like that Reina and Kai see things from different perspectives. Reina is more willing to accept the ways of society, whereas Kai questions. I love books that make me think about things in new and different ways, and this part of the story did just that.
The story ends in a cliffhanger that made me immediately look for the next book in the series. I’m curious to see what happens to Reina and Kai as their paths move in different directions. I also want to learn more about Reina’s power. I have a feeling she has not experienced the full extent of her power yet and am curious how she will grow and change in the subsequent books.
- Reina. Her story is unique and interesting, and she is a character I cheered for.
- The immersive world-building.
- The cool abilities!
I learned the hard way that the only thing more dreadful than grief was indifference.
My budding romance with Oden was a spark, but whether from years of suppressed feelings or shared history, my feelings for Kaito were a raging inferno.
Readers who enjoy young adult fantasy will enjoy this story.