G95 Book Review of The Fallen Snow by John J Kelley

Name of Book: The Fallen Snow

Author: John J Kelley

ISBN: 978-0-9884148-0-8

Publisher: Stone Cabin Press

Type of book: Same-sex love, moments, World War I, forest, sniper, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, Virginia Hadley, 1918-1919, France

Year it was published: 2012


In the fall of 1918 infantry sniper Joshua Hunter saves an ambushed patrol in the Bois le PrĂȘtre forest of Lorraine . . . and then vanishes. Pulled from the rubble of an enemy bunker days later, he receives an award for valor and passage home to Hadley, a remote hamlet in Virginia’s western highlands. Reeling from war and influenza, Hadley could surely use a hero. Family and friends embrace him; an engagement is announced; a job is offered.

Yet all is not what it seems. Joshua experiences panics and can’t recall the incident that crippled him. He guards a secret too, one that grips tight like the icy air above his father’s quarry. Over the course of a Virginia winter and an echoed season in war-torn France, The Fallen Snow reveals his wide-eyed journey to the front and his ragged path back. Along the way he finds companions – a youth mourning a lost brother, a widowed nurse seeking a new life and Aiden, a bold sergeant escaping a vengeful father. While all of them touch Joshua, it is the strong yet nurturing Aiden who will awaken his heart, leaving him forever changed.

Set within a besieged Appalachian forest during a time of tragedy, The Fallen Snow charts an extraordinary coming of age, exploring how damaged souls learn to heal, and dare to grow.


The characters are all well-drawn and complex; no flat characters exist in the book. Some characters I did enjoy besides Aiden and Josh are Josh's parents who did change throughout the book, as well as Katie and Claire who are also strong women; Claire for trying to find beauty within war, and Katie for standing up for herself and not just going along for the ride. I had some confusion with the minor characters and sometimes I forgot their roles. I recall there was an African-American character, but I cannot recall his name, and I would have liked to see and get to know more of Katie's parents in the book.


Hold on to the good for they will slip away sooner or later


This is written in third person narrative primarily from Josh's point of view, although we also have his mother Elisabeth and his younger brother Scott as well as some friends. The book alternates between post-war and from when Joshua arrived to fight in France. The flashbacks are italicized while 1919, I believe, is written without italicization. At the same time, there is a mirror between the past and present, in that Joshua is hesitant to accept himself, but at last does so, even at a tremendous sacrifice. I also found the French attitudes really interesting and different when comparing them to American ones.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

in The United States



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Fiction, Historical Fiction, Gay And Lesbian

Harper Lee, Armistead Maupin, E.M. Forster, Truman Capote

member since
January 2013

John Kelley is a fiction writer crafting tales about healing, growth and community. Born and raised in the Florida panhandle, he graduated from Virginia Tech and served as a military officer. After pursuing traditional careers for two decades, he devoted three years to researching and completing his first novel.

John is a member of The Writer’s Center and lives with his partner in Washington, DC, where he can often be found wandering Rock Creek Park when not hovering over his laptop at a local coffee shop.

John’s debut novel recounts the struggle of a young WWI sniper returning to a Virginia community reeling from war, influenza and economic collapse. The Fallen Snow recently received a Publishers Weekly starred review and earned an Honorable Mention nod at the ForeWord Reviews Book-of-the-Year Awards.


Although it wasn't a five star novel for me, but this will really blow a reader away. I enjoyed the descriptive scenery, the atmosphere of tension and uncertainty as well as learning more about the community that depends on forests and quarries for the livelihoods. The characters are really well drawn, both men and women that inhabited Hadley Virginia. I personally think this is a slow read type book because I felt that I missed a lot, at least in my opinion; and also, one has to be okay with same-sex love. Prior to this book, I've never really read a book that has same-sex couple, thus for me it seemed as if they were friends instead of lovers. Really different than what I thought the relationship will be.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


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