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All Fall Down

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  406 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
A deadly contagion races through England...

Isabel and her family have nowhere to run from a disease that has killed half of Europe. When the world she knows and loves ends forever, her only weapon is courage.

The Black Death of 1349 was the deadliest plague in human history. All Fall Down is a powerful and inspiring story of survival in the face of real life horror.
Paperback, 281 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Marion Lloyd Books
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Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it

1349. england.

you know what follows, right?

i myself am suffering from plaguelike symptoms right now, so this is probably going to be a crummy review, and for that i apologize, because this book really deserves a review from someone who is abler-bodied than i am right now.

i have read plenty of books about plenty of plagues, but this one was really special. most of its strength comes from the voice of the narrator; a fourteen-year-old girl whose family are villeins living in rural england
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
People often have entire lists of things they fear, but one of those fears usually stands out, stronger than all the others. For me, that’s fear of germs and infectious diseases. Deciding to read All Fall Down was a way for me to face my worst fear, and although it took me a while to get through it, in the end, I’m very glad I did.

Between 1348 and 1350, the Black Death killed anywhere from one third to half of European population, after wiping out tens of millions of people in Asia. In the smal
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing

An amazing novel.... a story about the Plague in England - the Black Death
All Fall Down …. By Sally Nicholls


This review will include absolutely no spoilers! If you happen to pick up a copy please do not turn to page 273 to read the author’s historical note. This in itself is a spoiler.

The PLAGUE! Yes, the word itself is scary, but what do we really know about it? I have never studied European history, I am not an infectious disease researcher nor do
To me, historical books are like wagon wheels*.

No not like an actual wheel for a wagon… um… no, I mean the biscuit. The delicious, delicious biscuit.
Let me explain. I don’t have wagon wheels very often but when I do I savour them, love them, vow to eat more of them and get marshmallow in my hair. Similarly with historical YA. I don’t read many of them but when I do I savour them, love them, vow to read more of them and get marshmallow in my hair.

I’ve spent the last few hours searching my hou
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Award winning author Sally Nicholls won me over with her wonderful debut novel, Ways To Live Forever, a poignant contemporary story which was published in 2008. She has since written Seasons of Secrets (2009), contemporary fiction with a taste of magic, and her latest, All Fall Down, is her first foray into historical fiction, set in Yorkshire during the Black Death in the mid 14th century.

At the moment so much Childrens/YA fiction is concerned with post-apocalyptic dystopias but, as Sally Nich
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable read even though the topic of the book was less than pleasant.

Sally had amazing insight to write this novel from the perspective of Isabel given that the book took place during the 1300's and was during the plague. Her thoughts and level of understanding of how the characters would feel in this given situation was most remarkable. I could not imagine going through what the characters endured in this novel. My god a number of cases of the flu these days is a cause for alert and c
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geoffrey Gudgion
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I was recommended to this book by a fellow author, who knew that my work-in-progress includes scenes from the 14th century. It is probably aimed more at the Young Adult or teen market, so I may not be best place to review it, but with that proviso:

All Fall Down is a meticulously researched work; the level of detail about peasant life immediately prior to, and during, the Black Death is exemplary. Sally Nicholls manages to put the reader right into the mind of a teenage girl living through those
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Why do I think I love books about the plague? This was very well done, there's no doubting that...but I think it should go on the 'don't read with pms' shelf. I loved the main character and would have been happy to continue listening to everything that happened after the last chapter. I will look for other work by Sally Nicholls.
Fourteen-year-old Isabel lives in a small village in England that has recently suffered from bad weather and food shortages. When the villagers hear news of a strange new disease, they are concerned by how fast it is spreading through the country. This plague strikes everyone equally, whether they are young or old, weak or strong. Nearly half the population of England dies. Many people believe the end of the world has come. Those that survive are left struggling to rebuild their homes and lives. ...more
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
A great introductory novel based on the arrival of the Black Death of 1349 to a village near York - probably suitable for 10+ and YA. To be more accurate it is about people experiencing the Black Death rather than passage of the sickness itself or medieval England. The latter merely forms a backdrop for catastrophe on an apocalyptic scale.

Isobel and her family, Ned, Meg, Alice and her father watch as the plague approaches their village, helpless despite the knowledge of impending disater. Nichol
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the third YA novel by Sally Nicholls that I've read, and must say she grows in strength with every one. She has a wonderfully drawn young heroine in Isabel, facing the spread of the Black Death from her small Yorkshire village, watching the destruction of life as she knows it and holding her family together. This is history brought to life at its very best, the horrors unflinchingly described through Isabel's eyes. Against the background of death and destruction, the story is strong and ...more
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
The medieval period is just so depressing to read about isn't it? I give the author four stars for making me interested in one the very few historical periods I tend not to "like" to read about. It started off a little slow, with 14 year old Isabel coming off much like the 11 year old protagonist of Nicholls' first work "Ways to Live Forever." Luckily it picked up and Isobel became her own character - stubborn, loving, and conflicted. She responds pretty realistically to what follows after the B ...more
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, historical
This is a children's book - possibly 9 + - concerning the Black Death of 1348. It follows one girl, her family and community.

This is an excellent introduction for children to this episode of history and while it certainly doesnt skate over the issues it does approach the subject with care and dignity.

The story also shows the social and moral impact that this devastating event had on England, from harvesting to worship.

I recommend this.
Feb 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I seem to be obsessed by anything 'Black Death' related. - This is a beautifully written though heartbreaking story of a village dealing with the plague. I read it in one sitting and was constantly filled with a sense of dread - knowing how devestating it was going to get - as well as a sense of relief that I do not have to live in a time of such loss and sorrow. This will certainly leave the reader grateful for the love in their lives. The perfect historical novel for younger readers.
Brin Murray
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating story – Black Death hits village north of York in 1349, when half Europe has already died, told through present tense pov of a fourteen year old girl.
I read this pretty well at one sitting, so it was thoroughly gripping and has fascinating subject matter.
Picky picky me:
Typos – surprising number of;
Voice slightly too contemporary – though that’s not quite fair, as I really don’t want to be reading Chaucerian English, and where do you draw the line?
The plot development when they went t
Liberty Gilmore
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ytf-finalist
When I was a kid, I had a real obsession with the Plague. Morbid, I know, but I had this book that was all about diseases – in the fun, quirky illustrations, cartoony sort of way. Despite the cartoons though, it used to scare the hell out of me. Every time I felt even slightly ill I managed to convince myself I was going to die of the plague. And this was before you could Google your symptoms.

There’s just something really scary about the thought of a plague that could kill more than half the pop
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it
This book wasn't too bad. I actually originally believed it was an apocalyptic story, so I was quite surprised when it wasn't. However, the black death has always morbidly interested me, so I was interested to see how the story went. I did like the plot and the concept but to be honest at times the modern narrative made it difficult to remember that the story was in the middle ages. I also felt that none of the deaths were hard hitting. one, there were so many, but I don't dispute that, its kind ...more
A.R. Collins
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. I thought it started more slowly than it needed to, but that's okay, and once characters started getting the plague it became a compelling read. Like any good YA historical fiction, this story convincingly shows us a situation long past through the eyes of a teenager. It is more about the character, and the people she knows, than the event itself. Isabel's narrative voice, and her actions and reactions through the stages of her journey, are fascinating and bel ...more
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historisches, jugend
1349 - die Pest hat den europäischen Kontinent fest im Griff, Millionen Menschen sterben. Auch das Dorf, in dem die 14jährige Isabel mit ihrer Familie lebt, bleibt davon nicht verschont und schon muss auch sie im direkten Umfeld ihrer Bekannten, Freunde und Verwandten die ersten Toten beklagen.
Es ist eine unglaublich düstere und streckenweise sehr hoffnungslose Lektüre, man wird von dem grenzenlosen Grauen das in dieser Zeit herrschte, förmlich hineingezogen in dieses Buch (vielleicht sollte man
Alannah Clarke
The Bubonic Plague of the 14th Century, otherwise known as the Black Death. In my eyes, this is the worst natural disaster to ever happen in the history of the world. Imagine that there is something you don't quite understand is wiping out everyone around you, imagine the fear, the break-down of law and order throughout Europe. The Black Death is something that has always fascinated me so I was really glad when I saw this book.

Ok, enough of the historical context and on with the actual review o
Candy Wood
The choice of a first-person, present-tense narrator, 14-year-old Isabel, helps make this a powerful story of the 1349 plague in the north of England. She conveys information--the feudal system that ties her family to the land, what they eat, drink, wear, and do all day--in a matter-of-fact tone. Her attitudes are appropriate for her time. Even though her brother, training to be a priest, reads her a text written by a French woman, she can’t believe that women could ever do men’s work like bakin ...more
Theresa Tomlinson
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been very impressed by this book. The main character Isabel is a strong young woman, who loves to make and mend things - she's very practical and makes mistakes, but I found her quite compelling. This is in some ways a harrowing story about a group of young people struggling through the time of the bubonic plague - the author doesn't pull her punches - there is a great deal of death - but there's hope as well. The prose is written in the first person and present tense, which gives a powerfu ...more
Nov 19, 2012 rated it liked it
All Fall Down is the story of 14 year old Isabel and her family as face the 1348-9 plague in a small village north of York. I liked this novel from the start as the author’s description of life on a medieval manor was so vivid that I could almost draw a map of where Isabel lived. Sally Nicholls also covers the roles of people in a village, the difference between villeins (serfs) and freemen and the trade origins of surnames (i.e. Baker, Smith etc.). That is, it had many teachable moments in it! ...more
Arietta Bryant
I read this book as part of the Hampshire Book Awards 2013 and It took over two weeks to read it and every time I opened it was an effort, I didn't look forward to reading it and could not get into the characters but I did try to keep an open mind and I wanted to learn to love it... Like reading Dickens or Shakespeare it is not for everyone but often there is joy to be found at the end of the book in simply having completed it. I have to say that I was very joyous when I finished this book it ju ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hba-2013
Isabel and her family are villeins living (and dying) through the pestilence in a small village outside York. We follow her thoughts and feelings as she tries to make sense of God punishing people like monks and priests by sending the plague, and share her sense of bewilderment as she tries to come to terms with what happens in her family.
Although not full of wildly exciting events, this is nevertheless a compelling read.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Overall, it was a very delightful read! I had a wonderful journey flippin' through the pages *twirls around* I really like the setting and how informed I became of the Black Death. Amazing. However, sometimes I got kind of annoyed with the main character and there were some errors in the book towards the end..? or was it just me? I guess the author was excited to wrap things up hehe
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction
An excellent evocation of what it must have even like to live through the Black Death which killed half of the population of Europe. Sally Nicholls brings out the horror of those times, reminding those of us who enjoy dystopian novels that England has already experienced an apocalypse, and survived.
Mrs Shuttleworth
A deadly contagion races through England...

Isabel and her family have nowhere to run from a disease that has killed half of Europe. When the world she knows and loves ends forever, her only weapon is courage.

The Black Death of 1349 was the deadliest plague in human history. All Fall Down is a powerful and inspiring story of survival in the face of real life horror.
Robin Stevens
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A powerfully evoked and very immediate historical novel, this is assured and extremely enjoyable, and it cleverly brings home the reality of the Black Death in a way that will connect to readers (like myself) more used to thinking about the end of the world as something that will happen in the future.
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Sally Nicholls is a prize-winning British children's author. She was born and grew up in Stockton-on-Tees. On finishing school, Nicholls chose to travel around the world. Her first novel was Ways to Live Forever.
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