Book Review: When Darkness Falls by Sue Robertson Danells


The Details:

When Darkenss Falls by Sue Robertson Danells
Publisher: Independently published
Published: March 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction / English
Pages: 275
Available: paperback, ebook

Sex: 💗 none
Violence: 😨 minor, a child is murdered, but nothing graphic

My review:

Reviewer's Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. 

The Plot in Brief: Alfred 'Freddie' Tyler has a difficult birth that leaves him with an hypoxic brain injury. He has trouble learning and suffers from epileptic seizures. Both hinder his progress but he perseveres, determined to make something of himself. He travels to Canada to start a new life only to return to England where his life takes a dark turn. 

The Characters: The book opens with an intimate portrayal of  the Tyler family, Freddie's parents, siblings and extended family. They are a close-knit loving family living in Brighton in the 1860s. Freddie is the focus of the story which is told in tender detail. We learn about Freddie's frequent failures and few successes even as his family rallies around him, offering support. When Freddie sails for Canada he meets William, an upper-class man who befriends him. Together they make a life in Manitoba where Freddie falls in love and becomes engaged to be married. His fiancé, Eleanor, is just a brief blip in this book, which I found strange. I also thought there could have been a bit more tension, everyone seems so loving and supportive, there's only a cranky Grandmother to stir the pot. 

The History: I thoroughly enjoyed the historical setting for the book, especially the domestic details of  the 1800s. Life was not easy but there were many moments of happiness. The description of the ship and the passage to Canada was also interesting. Life in Canada was equally harsh, especially for two bachelor men trying to start a farm from scratch. The details seemed accurate and well researched. 

The Writing: The book is written in present tense which is not always easy to pull off but the writer did a great job. The narrative POV flips between multiple first person and third person, sometimes midchapter which I found distracting.  There were some punctuation issues that although did not distract from the story were found throughout the book.

Overall: I enjoyed the story of Freddie Tyler, he is definitely a sympathetic character. I was a little bit disappointed at the ending but to explain why would give away the story. 

Recommendation: I think anyone who enjoys good historical fiction will appreciate this novel. 

Rating: I give this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐ four stars

If you'd like to see more of this book, I've include an Amazon link below. 


  1. Many thanks Jeanie for this review, which is fair and very pleasing. I take on board those aspects that can be improved upon in future work. The story of Freddie's fiancé was considerably more in-depth to begin with, but became part of what was cut to reduce some of the length. Maybe in future I'll be guided by my gut instinct. My sincere apologies to all, for punctuation errors found.

    I'm thrilled with the 4 star rating which is a huge confidence boost.


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