An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet

Marthe leveled a cool stare at James Blakely. “The Wicked God’s dead. You were all at least willing to tell us that. If the Twisted Things are still loose on the countryside, don’t you tell me it’s not certain and we should just be afraid when you tell us to. I paid too much for that.” Her hand drifted to her belly; made a fist. “It was too much to have bought nothing.”

Six months ago, the men of the Lakelands marched south to fight a dark god.

Weeks ago, a lowly soldier named John Balsam stabbed it in the heart.

Hallie is just trying to save her farm. Marthe, her sister, is waiting for her husband to come back. They cover their fears with arguments that snap like a taut bow. The family is slowly crumbling, even as Hallie’s friends Nat and Tyler pitch in to help the farm survive.

What nearly breaks their relationship for good is Hallie’s decision to take on a worker – Heron, a scarred young veteran a long way from home. But what results from that decision is much more catastrophic than an ended relationship.

A Twisted Thing – one of the unnatural, acid-and-ashes monsters that burn everything they touch – crashes through Hallie’s window. Cryptic messages are written in the stones on the riverbank. The mayor of their village tries to take the farm.

Heron is hiding something important, the Twisted Things are arriving in greater numbers every day, and Hallie and Marthe must fix their family in time to fight the last battle of their war.

An Inheritance of Ashes is a story of the aftermath of war. There is nothing cheerful about the men who come home missing limbs, with their eyes blasted pale by the Wicked God’s fall. But the mending of the relationship between Hallie and Marthe gives readers hope that something can be salvaged – and many things are. (There’s even a little bit of sweet, slow-building romance.)

The intricate relationships between the cast, and a thoughtful portrayal of their flaws make this book realistic and touching. They come together to fight the Twisted Things despite their peacetime differences, standing up to soldiers who don’t understand how to stop the invasion. Even the main Big Bad is made… if not necessarily good, then understandable.

As the story moves on, it’s clear that the book is set in a post-apocalyptic America where technology is gone, but the people still have the same problems we have. In the prologue, it’s made clear that Hallie and Marthe have an abusive father. He’s dead by the time of the main story, but his influence rings in the sisters’ relationship.

What I loved is that the story is not focused on the invasion, but its results in the families of the village, the injuries of the characters, and the lives of the soldiers who came home.

In all the books I’ve read before An Inheritance of Ashes, the aftermath of the war was a side issue. The hero was in the limelight. Nothing was given to the side characters besides a few passing mentions.

Here, the real heroes are on the home front.

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