All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls

These are the things I know about the pestilence:
It swarms around those who catch it, like a cloud of flies. If you find yourself caught in the cloud – or look in the eyes of somebody who is sick – or offend God – or are loved by someone who offends God – or walk in a particular place when the wind blows in the wrong direction – you die too.
You can travel far from the city where your family died, thinking yourself safe, only to reach a place of sanctuary and fall down dead, bringing the sickness down around you.
There’s no cure.
Once you have it, you die.
1349. The biggest catastrophe in historical memory – the Black Death – is about to hit fourteen-year-old Isabel’s village. The world will never be the same again.

Other books by the author
Ways to Live Forever
Season of Secrets
A Lily, A Rose
Close Your Pretty Eyes (Coming August 2013)
Sally talking about the book:

Author website link

If you liked this, why not try…
Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan
Witch Child by Celia Rees
I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
Troubadour by Mary Hoffman
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers


28 thoughts on “All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls

  1. All Fall Down was the first NEBA book I read this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    It’s 1349 and Isabel and her family live in the small village of Ingleforn. At the start of the book, the pestilence has reached York and is on its way to Isabel’s home. One of the villagers lets his sister and her children, refugees from York, stay with him but the rest of the village worries that they could bring the illness with them. One of the children has the pestilence and starts the series of deaths that are key to the story.
    After most of Ingleforn is dead, Isabel and her boyfriend Robin decide to run away and take Isabel’s younger siblings, Ned and Mags with them. On the road they encounter a kind merchant named Thomas. He takes them under his wing and to live in his magnificent house in York, where the pestilence is almost gone.
    I don’t want to reveal much more but I will say that people who cry at Marley and Me should be prepared for a whole load of tears. Keep a box of tissues at hand!!

  2. I loved All Fall Down! I don’t usually like books based on historic events but this was extremely interesting and made something which might sound boring in History class really exciting! I also liked the fact that I learnt a lot from the book (it’s as if the writer was actually living in 1349!).

  3. This story is about Isobel and how she copes as the plague affects her large family.
    Overall, I didn’t really enjoy this book. I did like the historical detail and the gruesome bits but the pace was so slow for most of the time and really fast at the end when the most interesting bits happen. Sometimes the style was a story, other times it was more like a history book. I really wanted to know more about Ned but you never get a full picture of him.

  4. All Fall down takes us back to 1348 and the awful years surrounding it when the plague infests Europe. It’s the story of a 13 year old girl who watches her family dying around her then escapes with a sorrowing stranger for a better life in York only to find trouble of a different kind.
    All Fall Down describes brilliantly what it was like to live at this time. It’s a book filled with suspense which leaves your stomach full of anxious butterflies and despair. My only criticism is that the pace and even the genre of the book changed completely about half way through. It was as though the author had got bored with the story and felt she needed to move things on. Unlike most people, I really enjoyed the first half, which is interesting, atmospheric and full of tension but the ending was ambiguous in an unsatisfactory way, neither happy nor sad. I understand that it was probably a realistic end but I wanted a definite resolution.
    Nevertheless, All Fall Down is well worth revisiting for its exceptional description and true to life scenes of daily life. I could really picture the layout of the village and empathise with the different characters as they responded to the plague. I would recommend this book without hesitation.

  5. I really enjoyed this book because when I learned about the plague at school, it was in general terms whereas this was far more personal and easy to relate to.
    My favourite part was when the pestilence started to infect Isabel’s family. It really hit home for me how awful it must have been for her. I understood why Isabel started to feel tense when Alice fell sick because Alice was the authority figure and Isabel realised she would have to take charge if Alice died. I felt devastated when Isabel’s father died because I could feel her sense of unreality when her world started falling apart.
    My only slight disappointment was that I felt the author could have introduced the younger siblings in more detail at the beginning of the book.

  6. Overall, I thought this was a spine-tingling book that made me feel I was really there at the time of the plague in England.
    I thought the end was disappointed, however, because it wasn’t interesting like the beginning of the book or fast paced like the middle section.

  7. Captivating and emotionally gripping, I loved this book. It enticed me from start to finish though things don’t really heat up until the survivors get to York.
    Robin is a piece of art to read about and his end really took me by surprise. I’d recommend this journey of survival to anyone.

  8. I really enjoyed this book as it contained a lot more facts than I have learned at school… I felt like I was in that time, witnessing it happen; I love how much detail Sally Nicholls put into the book because books don’t contain that much gory information. Overall I really enjoyed this book.

  9. I think that a story about the plague is a fantastic idea and this author has done a really good job of describing what it would have been like to live then. The beginning and middle of this book were so powerful, I was hooked from the first page. I could picture everything; it was so realistic, waiting for something that couldn’t be stopped, anxiously hoping then…BANG! It’s here.
    In my opinion though, this book gets less interesting and wanders away from the theme once Isobel leaves for York. This bit is like an unrelated story. Also, the ending was just set out in points: this happened, that happened, the end. I can see that just having the plain facts to complete Isobel’s story might appeal to some readers, but it didn’t do anything for me.
    I enjoyed this book, however, and would recommend it to anyone who prefers atmosphere to action.

  10. I really loved reading All Fall Down and loved the storyline but I cried sooo much at the end and would have loved it to be a happy ending with Isabel, Robin, Ned and Mags to have been happy and not the way it ended as I think all my tears are gone I cried so much. I really warmed to the characters, especially Mags and Robin, but it was a fantastic book I just wished poor Robin survived 😥

  11. I really enjoyed this book. It had lots of interesting facts that I didn’t know. I felt as though I was there with the characters. I love the detail that Sally Nicholls uses. In a nut shell I really enjoyed this book.
    Faye, Seaton Burn

  12. Out of the five books, this was my favourite. I loved the detail and the down to earth reality. Not only was the storyline brilliant, it was also very informative. I really felt like I was there.

  13. I thought some of the description was really gross. It should come with a warning!
    The storyline was good, however.

  14. All Fall Down is a great book, Sally Nicholls has really excelled herself with this one as the storyline is fantastic and if I had the time I would read it over and over again. I can’t wait to read her new book. I definitely give this book 5 stars, I would give it higher if I could but unfortunately the limit is only five. Can’t wait for the evening of the event and I really hope that Sally wins!!!

  15. I really liked this book, I found out lots of things that I didn’t know before. It was a really good book and I would love to read more books like this.

  16. I liked the topic but found this book very hard to get through. The pace didn’t really pick until close to the end. I thought that although Isobel’s actions were very brave, they were also rather stupid and reckless. It bothered me that she continuously risked bringing the plague to her family and, rather than worrying about this, she seemed more bothered about the fate of the little girl whose mother had probably brought the plague in the first place. I really liked Robin though.

  17. I didn’t like the start at all. It was very slow. I thought this book didn’t get going until the end which went really fast with lots of action.

  18. On the whole, I did not enjoy this book very much at all. The start was very slow and then the end was suddenly stuffed full of action. I would have preferred it if the action was spread out through the book to keep up my interest. This isn’t the sort of book I would choose for myself because it’s about a girl and goes into a lot of detail about her feelings, which I found rather boring. The blurb made me think I’d like this book so I was quite disappointed.

  19. I enjoyed this book. I felt like I was there and it was interesting. I wouldn’t normally go for this type of book but I’m glad I read it. The plot was great and so was the description. Personally, I think this book was for both boys and girls although the plain cover is a bit boyish.
    This was a really good book and I’ll be looking for other books written by Sally Nicholls now.

  20. It was set in the 14th century, and was about a plague having a devastating effect. It wasn’t really my type of book. People who like historical based books should give it a go. I did enjoy it a litle bit but it wasn’t my favourite.

  21. Me and my friend Caitlun think is book is awesome and we would recommend it to our friends and family and we would rate it 10/10 and it was our favorite book of all time

  22. I enjoyed All Fall Down because it was unlike any book I have read before but after all the detail in the first part, I found the end rather disappointing.

  23. I enjoyed this book. I felt like I was there and it was interesting. I wouldn’t normally go for this type of book but I’m glad I read it. The plot was great and so was the description. Personally, I think this book was for both boys and girls although the plain cover is a bit boyish. This was a really good book and I’ll be looking for other books written by Sally Nicholls now.

  24. It gives a great picture of what it was really like back then. The layout is a little confusing, but still good.

  25. I really liked this book and I think it’s the best one I’ve read so far. Some people thought it was too slow but I didn’t and I don’t agree with the people who think the book should have stopped when Isabel’s parents died. I wouldn’t have felt satisfied if she hadn’t gone to York and experienced a different sort of life there.

  26. Best book I ever read, truly moving. Although this book is different to what I normally read, I’m interested in history so it was perfect book for me. I’ll definitely look out for more by Sally Nicholls.

  27. This is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. It must be so hard to write a book set so long ago but it felt incredibly real and the detail was excellent. I felt as though I was there. I appreciated the use of modern English so it was easy to understand what was said and what was meant. Somehow it sounded just right.

  28. I really liked this book but I wasn’t satisfied with the ending. I really wanted Isobel to marry Will and no reason was given for why she didn’t. I felt it was downhill all the way after Robin’s low key death. I kept expecting something dramatic to happen so the end was a bit of an anticlimax and rather disappointing.

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