All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls

All Fall Down is a heart-breakingly sad story, beautifully written and crafted.

It tells the story of a small village in the north of England in the 1300’s through 14 year old Isabel’s eyes. The Black Death is coming closer and closer to their little village. Rumours are spreading like wildfire. Anxiety and tension increase as people become suspicious of strangers. And slowly, inevitably, people begin to sicken and die.

The second half of the story lacked some of the tension of the first half (or perhaps I was just starting to feel numb, like Isabel, from all the death and sadness).

The plot device used to get to the children to York also felt rather flimsy.

The story is full of historical facts about medieval life, superstitions and beliefs, woven in seamlessly so that you don’t even realise that you’re getting a history lesson! Nicholls avoids using the medieval dialogue of the time but talks about the different accents of her characters and uses many words common to that period.

All Fall Down is a strong story for teen readers who are tired of vampires and other paranormal beings!

The Black Death is the original apocalyptic story. Half of Europe dead within a short period of time. Who will survive and how will they survive this disaster? Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction.

The beginning:

‘I buried with my own hands five of my children in a single grave…No bells. No tears. This is the end of the world. Angola di Turu 1348.’

The year I turned thirteen, it rained every day from Midsummer to Christmastide.

Page 56:

“I don’t know how I’d live!” says Robin. “Maybe I wouldn’t. But it would be better than staying here, wouldn’t it?”
I’m silent. Alice wanted to leave, I know. But every part of me screams that if we leave our land, if we leave our fields, it wouldn’t matter if we survived the pestilence. We’d have stopped being ourselves already.

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