The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.
When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group
It always kills me when books that could have been amazing miss the mark. Unfortunately, for me, An Inheritance of Ashes did just that. The premise is genius. A dystopian future world where all religions are permitted and not judged (this is underlying and barely mentioned), where people of all different races and ethnicities are not divided but live side by side and are NOT marked as other (also glossed over) and magic has invaded, threatening the world as they know it. I had so many questions that were left unanswered. How did the world get this way? THE GIGANTIC ALL-ENCOMPASSING WAR that features a prophet and a magical god was a bombardment of information presented in a HUGE chunk of paragraph that wasn’t really even expanded upon later. The details of the war, why it happened, etc., they were loosely inserted into the story but with nowhere near enough elaboration.
The plot goes in several directions and feels lost. Most of the story is centered on the dismal relationship between Hallie and Marthe. In many ways, this reads as more of a coming of age drama than anything else. The pride and fear between sisters that makes them act as strangers in the same house, that huge gap between unspoken words and misunderstandings was harsh and frank and true. The hurt and sorrow of never living up to expectations was compelling and the most powerful bit of emotional turmoil in the story.
There was so much that I wanted, no needed, to know. The alternate world where the Twisted Things come from? What’s up with that? Why did it open, where did it come from, how do they know these creatures are a threat? Or even gods? There are so many questions and hardly ANY answers.
The plot is relatively slow and while it makes sense for a dull, but busy farm life setting, it was hard to stay committed to the read.
Tyler and Hallie’s blossoming romance was tentative and unsure, I actually respected and found it endearing that it was cautious, slow, and special, there was no fiery chemistry or lust but a mutual decision to explore. I can’t remember the last time I read a YA relationship so true to the awkward and somewhat embarrassing nature of a first kiss between friends.
Towards the end of the story, the pace picks up, Hallie becomes a little more likable, (throughout most of the book Hallie’s pride and inability to speak up, her quick jump to assumptions makes her a tad hard to back), and more magical elements are revealed. However, secondary characters that might have added edge and excitement to the story fizzled out. Ada and her siblings were intriguing, unique characters but there was nowhere near enough of them.
Overall, An Inheritance of Ashes was a decent read that while sometimes aimless, had enough to keep me hooked in until the end.
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