How to Fall by Jane Casey Review

Friday, June 6, 2014

Title: How to Fall
Author: Jane Casey (Twitter)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: August 26, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Jess Tennant has never met any of her relatives, until her mom suddenly drags her out of London to spend the summer in the tiny English town where her family’s from. Her mom’s decision is surprising, but even more surprising is the town’s reaction to Jess. Everywhere she goes, people look at her like they’ve seen a ghost. In a way, they have—she looks just like her cousin Freya, who died shortly before Jess came to town.

Jess immediately feels a strange connection to Freya, whom she never got to meet alive. But the more Jess learns about the secrets Freya was keeping while she was alive, the more suspicious Freya’s death starts to look. One thing is for sure: this will be anything but the safe, boring summer in the country Jess was expecting.
There's nothing quite like a good mystery to make your blood curdle and have you longing to leave the lights on long after dark. I think that's why I'm so partial to mysteries. They linger with you long after you close the book on the last page, begging you all the while to scour it again for one more clue you might have missed, or one more detail that led to that final, fateful outcome. How to Fall by Jane Casey is the type of mystery and thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end, hoping that you might very well lose yourself along the way, as well.

How to Fall gives readers a fantastic setting, which was one of the true highlights of the novel for me. Ms. Casey manages to bring the English countyside alive through the careful details of the town, its inhabitants, the weather and all those eccentricities that set it apart from other potential settings. The beauty of these descriptions is, though the setting is altogether unfamiliar to me, it's a rather closed scene, in which we feel as though we grow to know and empathize with the town's inhabitants, as well as their daily lives and routines. Through that, we better understand our protagonist and the characters, which is a truly remarkable feat - and one I don't see that often in other such novels.

The characters within How to Fall presented us with fairly vast character map - giving us a little bit of everything within the closed off setting. Jess, our protagonist, was a bit of a double-edged sword for me. Ms. Casey takes great care in calling attention to the differences between Freya and Jess, despite their outward similarities. Unfortunately, at times, I felt that this made Jess's persona a bit cloying and smothering. Freya is described as a quiet, artistic girl with a more patient and calm demeanor. Jess is the exact opposite, often bringing a bit of a bold, hard-edged demeanor to the story. It was a pretty thick shell that made it fairly difficult to actually access her true persona and personality. Our other characters such as Darcy and Natasha, while serving their purposes well, often felt more like tropes than real people, which unfortunately drew me out of the story at critical times.

There was a quiet simplicity to the actual mystery of How to Fall, and I appreciated that Ms. Casey took great care in setting the scene of Freya's untimely demise from page one. While it wasn't the most earth-shattering mystery, it still had me guessing at key moments, and that's often good enough for me. I think that the only thing that detracted from my enjoyment of the actual mystery was Jess's detective nature. She's presented as an incredibly intelligent and likable character, but many of her actions and motives made her seem rather a juvenile detective that was in far over her head.

Overall, I found How to Fall to be an enjoyable mystery - though perhaps a lighter mystery than those I'm particularly partial to. It's not a perfect story, but Ms. Casey never fails to impress with her writing style, and the setting, itself, is reason enough to pick up this novel. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary stories and light mysteries.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. A little disappointing that this is on the lighter side of mysteries, but it definitely seems to be a fantastic novel regardless, especially as I crave those books that simply linger long afterwards. Wonderful review, Melissa, and thanks for putting this on my radar!

  2. I've been trying to read more psychological thrillers and mysteries this year, so I'll have to add this to my TBR list. I like the setting of the English countryside…spooky! Great review, Melissa!

  3. Great review! I'm getting into mysteries more and think I'll add this one to my TBR list :)

  4. I have this one to review, but I am reading this authors book called The Burning and finding it not real up to par, so now I am worried about this one. :(

  5. Your description for the setting of this book really makes me want to read it, even if the mystery wasn't as good as you were hoping for. I guess not all mysteries can be as good as Ms Christie's...
    I think I'll be keeping an eye on this one and add it to the wish list!

  6. English countryside plus a mystery? Nice. Good writing definitely helps, too.

  7. Oooo the English countryside you say? That's a great place to set a mystery! I'm glad your few little niggles didn't hugely detract from the overall story and you were still able to enjoy it for the most part Melissa:)

  8. Like you, Melissa, I love a good mystery. The English countryside as a setting sounds hauntingly perfect, but I have a feeling Jess and her juvenile actions would spoil the story for me. Nice to see you enjoyed the story mostly in spite of that. Great review! :)

  9. I love a good mystery too. I have a copy of this one and I'm looking forward to checking it out. Love the sound of the setting!


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