ARC Review: Where the Light Falls by Allison Pataki and Owen Pataki

WhereTheLightFallsCoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: Set in Revolutionary Paris, a rich and sweeping novel about courage, duty, sacrifice, and love by the bestselling author of Sisi, Allison Pataki, and her brother, Owen Pataki.

From the courtrooms to the battlefields to the alleyways of Paris, with cameos from infamous figures in French history, the Patakis have crafted an epic, action-packed novel of the French Revolution as it has never been seen before. Three years after the storming of the Bastille, Paris is enlivened with the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy has been dismantled and a new nation, for the people, is rising up in its place. Jean-Luc, a young optimistic lawyer, moves his wife, Marie, and their son to Paris, inspired by a sense of duty to contribute to the new order. André, the son of a former nobleman, flees his privileged past to fight in the unified French Army with his roguish brother. Sophie, a beautiful young aristocratic widow and niece of a powerful, vindictive uncle, embarks on her own fight for independence.

Underneath the glimmer of hope and freedom, chaos threatens to undo all the progress of the revolution and the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. As the demand for justice breeds instability, creates enemies out of compatriots, and fuels a constant thirst for blood in the streets, Jean-Luc, Andre, and Sophie are forced to question the sacrifices made for the revolution. Liberty proves a fragile, fleeting ideal, and survival seems less and less likely—both for these unforgettable individuals, and indeed for the new nation itself.


Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 1792-1804 Paris, Bois de Valmy, Malta, and Egypt (but mainly Paris)

***I received an eARC copy of Where the Light Falls from the publisher, The Dial Press, via NetGalley***

Review: A perfectly fine historical fiction piece that takes place during the French Revolution. Too many battle scenes for my taste, but there’s a good story here, one that picked up at about the 40% mark.

Where the Light Falls starts out with a prologue in which a main character’s father is beheaded. The scene was so very reminiscent of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities that I fully expected Madame Defarge to appear from the shadows. As the Reign of Terror continues, we are drawn into the lives of Jean-Luc St Clair, a lawyer who fights for justice; his wife Marie; and also Andre Valiere: the son of the man beheaded in the prologue, who is fighting at Bois de Valmy, and is an aristocrat who has renounced his title. Andre falls in love with Sophie de Vincennes, the niece of a dangerously powerful man, Murat. How Jean-Luc’s and Andre’s stories intertwine I won’t spoil here, but I did enjoy reading historical fiction that focused more on the men’s stories. So many times in historical fiction we read primarily from the women’s point of view, (or that may just be the books I gravitate towards), so this book felt refreshing to me in that it pretty much just focused on the men. The women are there, but you don’t see things from their perspective like you do Jean-Luc and Andre. The one downside for this perspective for me is that Andre is a soldier, so there are many battle scenes that I personally didn’t care to read about, so this was disappointing to me. I don’t care for reading battle scenes because I can never follow the action. I get overwhelmed with all the stabbing, blood, and different characters that appear, so I get confused and have trouble following what is going on. I also have this problem with heavy action books as well.

In terms of the historical aspect of the book, I thought it was done very well. It wasn’t as heavy in the history as I expected, there weren’t any large “info dump” sections. The way the history was presented was easy to follow and interesting, but the book as a whole took me to at least the 40% mark before the characters and plots started coming together and clicking for me.

In terms of the characters, I enjoyed Christophe Kellerman, Andre’s battle leader at Bois de Valmy, and I enjoyed all of the main characters (Andre, Jean-Luc, Marie, and Sophie). The villains are your everyday bad men, I kept waiting for one of them to start twirling a mustache, as they were very much your generic bad guy.

All in all, this was a fine historical fiction book. One in which I learned a bit while reading, but not one that I’ll think about for too long after.

Bottom Line: Too many battle scenes for me, but Where the Light Falls is historical fiction worth a read if you’re interested in the time frame.

Links to Where the Light Falls on   Amazon   |   Goodreads

Does this sound like interesting historical fiction? Have you read other books set during this time period? Can any book set during the French Revolution compare to A Tale of Two Cities?


6 thoughts on “ARC Review: Where the Light Falls by Allison Pataki and Owen Pataki

  1. The Scarlet Pimpernell is my favorite French Revolution novel. It’s not the most serious book, being kind of an action/adventure spy kind of novel with a nice romance thrown in, but it’s funny and exciting and romantic and literally one of my all-time favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really need to re-read that book! I had to read it in 7th grade, and didn’t enjoy it at all, but I think I will enjoy it a lot more now 🙂 It’s a book I keep forgetting about – thanks for bringing it to my attention!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you that so many historical fiction novels are from a woman’s POV. At Grab the Lapels, I read books written by people who identify as women, but woman can write about men, too. And one of the reasons I’m wary of a constant female POV in historical fiction is that it always seems like woman are weeping over a long-ago story from a present timeline, while the woman in the past deals with all the hard stuff. Even if a novel is told from a woman’s POV, the author can still give us quite a bit of what men are thinking, too. It’s called limited omniscient, which means (typically) the narrator gets into the heads of 1-3 characters. Such a POV was used in The Sugar Queen, which I just reviewed today! I think I remember you writing that you loved The Sugar Queen. We get a POV from Josey, Chloe, Margaret, and I think even Adam.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t even realize how often the historical fiction I read is narrated by women until I read this book and got a mans perspective! I really should seek out more variety, but I just always lean towards the same types of books. The different POV made this book feel fresh and different, even if some of the plots were pretty standard.
      I’m so behind on my blog hopping! Looking forward to reading your review when I can blog hop 🙂


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