Undivided by Jennifer Fallon

The undivided

a review by Nalini Haynes

Darragh and Ronan are psychically linked twins who, thanks to a centuries old treaty, channel magic from the Tuatha De Danann (Fae) to the Druids. Together the twins are the Undivided, but at 3 years of age Ronan was tossed through a rift into an alternate realm (reality) that, at first, appears to be late 20th century Earth as we know it. Ronan was rescued from drowning by a stunt man, Patrick Boyle, on a movie set. Adopted by the star of the movie, Kiva Kavanagh, raised by Kiva’s cousin Kerry who married Patrick, Ronan grew up in the lap of luxury but also under the paparazzi spotlight. Fourteen years later in 2001, the race is on between druid and the fae to find Ronan.

Darragh remains with the druids, being trained as a warrior and to rule his people. This training results in numerous injuries that were psychically passed on to Ronan, who was accused of self-harming and attention seeking. The rules of the psychic transfer of injury do not always seem consistent. As a theme this is both thought-provoking and entertaining, especially in the introduction of Murray Symes, a child psychiatrist whose patients are invariably diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

Trasa is the daughter of Amergin, a druid who betrayed his people and whose deathbed confession resulted in the escalation of the hunt to find Ronan shortly before the events in The Undivided. In his confession, Amergin revealed that he had personally sent Ronan through the rift into ‘our’ world. Due to her half-human and half-sidhe, more specificially half banshee (beansidhe) heritage, Trasa is one of the few sidhe who can survive visiting ‘our’ world. Marcroy (think a younger-looking Malfoy senior but sidhe) is the sidhe envoy entrusted with overseeing the treaty between the fae and the druids. Marcroy spent two thousand years trying to oversee the end of the treaty without allowing any fae being responsible for breaking the treaty. Marcroy sends Trasa and a leprechaun (Leipreachan) to ‘our’ world to trap Ronan, preventing his return to the druid realm.

Hayley is Patrick Boyle’s daughter and has grown up as step-cousin and best friend of Ronan. Brydie is a court maiden to the Queen of the Celts, sent to Darragh to seduce him to ensure his bloodline continues. There are many other characters who shape this story, adding flavour to the narrative.

Fallon contrasts the worlds with ruthless accuracy. Not content with idealising the druid realm, Ronan complains about body lice and gruel for food in the druid realm. However, all the characters who visit ‘our’ world feel the losses incurred by progress, contrasting overpopulation and pollution with the fresh air and magic of the druid realm.

Movement in the story is consistent throughout The Undivided, with the plot steadily accelerating towards the cliff hanger finish. Characters have depth, enabling the reader to engage with them. Even Marcroy, the supposed villain, appears to have layers that Fallon intends to strip away in future instalments. Humour seasons the story, sometimes it’s a chuckle, sometimes it’s laugh out loud. At one point a line is delivered apparently innocently but full of double entendre, so much so I had a vision of Jenny telling one of her funny anecdotes at Supanova, with that straight look Jenny gives, honesty cloaking wickedness, while delivering a punch-line. I wonder how much more I enjoyed the book because I had met the personality behind the book, which sparkled in these gems.

This book ‘has it all’ as they say, meaning it has nudity, sex, drugs, politics, romance, conflict and more, and yet The Undivided is rarely explicit in its descriptions in the bedroom. The Undivided is fantasy, possibly epic fantasy, not a paranormal romance nor an erotic romance.

I highly recommend The Undivided.  4 ½ stars.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011.