Reviewed by Andrea Marks-Joseph
A supernatural Communist rebellion inspires a coalition between Hell and Earth
Fallen Desire is a fantasy adventure novel about boyfriends separated between the realms of Hell and Earth, each suddenly involved in the political uprisings which will bring them together again.
Mark is part demon, and he’s being forced into Hell to become a prisoner of Lucifer. In doing this, he has to leave his human boyfriend Conall behind. But when he gets there, he realizes that he’s seen as Lucifer’s golden child. For his connection to both worlds (being born of a human and a demon), the ruler of Hell is enamored of him.
This is not the ruthless, one-dimensional Lucifer we have heard stories about. In fact, he is emotional, sexual, and capable of feeling love. The two form a friendship of sorts, spending time in conversation and flying around Hell together: “We spin in circles, swoop down, and then up again. I’m laughing, and Lucifer is laughing too, almost as giddy with joy as I am. Hell stretches out below us.”
The Hell of Fallen Desire is more like a village than I had previously imagined. It has distinct communities and family life, rent control, gossip, wealth inequality. One of my favorite parts of this Hell and the book as a whole is how global it is: Mark grows close with a Dutch boy who lives in Hell; Kaylin, Mark’s friend on Earth, is mentored by an Indian woman in the Himalayas. This Hell, like our world, is diverse and multilingual.
Told from multiple points of view, we meet a whole host of characters along the way—an ancient scholar, a magnificent dragon, mischievous imps, a demon who turned to Lucifer for transformation because he was dying of AIDS in the 90s. On Earth, an international political rebellion is taking place, and several characters are honing their telekinesis and telepathic skills.
Fallen Desire is packed with thrilling action scenes, battles between demons in tournaments, and improvised spell-casting attacks as part of the various missions to take back control. The worldbuilding is luminous and detailed, intricately filled with life. Even the depth of Hell is radiant with vivid magical sensation: “To me, illusional magic tastes like pine needles and sunshine.”
Though Mark and Conall are separated from the start of the book, author Alex Stargazer does a wonderful job of refreshing memories of their relationship history, and including readers in their romance, desire, and commitment.
What Stargazer does with the Heaven/Hell origin story is delightful and surprising. There’s even an extraordinary reimagining of Judas in a romantic relationship with Lucifer here; a magnificent betrayal. I wouldn’t recommend being too sensitive of the Biblical narrative going in. Also, there is a narrative of Israel and the annihilation of the people of Mecca that feels a bit prescriptive and uncomfortable, so be aware of this as well.
Fallen Desire will appeal greatly to those who love revolution stories. It is strategic, political, filled with “assassinations, civil war, and demons.” It contains a multitude of rebellions—as well as the carnage, brutality, and community that comes with them.
If you enjoy unlikely friends working together for the common goal of liberation; if you relish the suspense of spying, colluding, and going undercover; if you are touched by moments where a character discovers they are not alone; and if you enjoy bold storytelling where even the primary antagonists are at risk of death at any point—usually way before you expect it—Fallen Desire is the book for you.
Genre: Fantasy / LGBTQ+ / Romance
Print Length: 419 pages
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