All Fall Down is a gothic novel set in the small Australian town of Mululuk. Barren, dusty and out in the middle of nowhere the bridge connecting both sides of town mysteriously collapses, injuring resident Janice in the process. Drifter Charlie returns to town with his own theory of what happened and a macabre idea of how to fix the problem once and for all. This novel has everything you encounter in a small, country town: wilful teenagers, love triangles, do-gooder priests and nosey neighbours. All these interactions build to a dramatic climax.
Unfortunately this novel wasn’t quite right for me. I was unable to connect with the characters leading to an emotional disconnect from the story. Upon finishing the novel I read that this was initially going to be a short story and then developed into a novel. I think the characters would have worked perfectly for a short story – they are all unique and fascinating characters with so much range and for a short story would have kept me guessing wanting to know more. For a novel, however, I feel that perhaps these characters needed a little more meat on their bones and I would have loved to understand more of their backgrounds. The way they were written I found it difficult to understand their motivations and their connections to each other which kept me from truly immersing myself within the story.
That being said, I think the concept of the book was great. I feel it did have so much range and the gothic feel of this novel in the setting of a small country town in the middle of the desert was perfect. It captured the essence of what can be a bleak, predictable and often tedious life in a place that never changes. I’m sure this book is perfect for some people and my critique is coming from someone who will pick a character heavy book over plot every single time. I don’t think it was ever for me but don’t let it stop you if it sounds like your kind of thing. As I received All Fall Down as part of Books on the Rail‘s subscription I plan to send this one out on public transport to find someone who will appreciate it as it deserves. I give All Falls Down two dingoes, living in the dusty town.