Monday, October 12, 2015

Me on An Inheritance of Ashes

Title: An Inheritance of Ashes
Author: Leah Bobet
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)

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.

An Inheritance of Ashes is haunting, full of unspoken words and unseen dangers. It's a book of sadness and hope combined into one creature, one setting, one young girl and the place she calls home, the people she call friends and family.

Hallie is on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the last argument between her and her sister. Things on their family farm are moving slowly with only the two of them working the land, with her brother-in-law not yet home from the war down in the South, a war of a Wicked God and Twisted Things. With Thom not yet home, what else could Hallie do and agree to let a wandering man work the farm with her for her sister Marthe? But his arrival brings questions, brings secrets, brings harsh words. And then the monsters come.

She's a sweet girl, Hallie, wanting to keep the barley farm running, wanting to make everything good and right for her sister and her coming baby. Hers is a sweet voice, a voice afraid of more than a few things. A voice that means well but at times is reckless. A voice that keeps the secrets in the dark in order to keep others safe.

With Hallie and Marthe, we see the unspoken words between siblings. The things we want to say but can't for any number of reasons. Fear. Guilt. Anger. Pride. We argue because we can't say the words we want to. We never say the words we should say everyday. We pick and poke and prod at the mistakes. We push because we love. We love with each breath in our bodies, each inch of ourselves. But we just can't say the important words when we want to, when we should.

This book shows the aftermath of war, what it does to the survivors. What happens to those named 'hero' or 'villain.' No one really went to war meaning to be a hero, not in this book. The men, the farmers and shopkeepers, the husbands and brothers and sons, went to war because help was needed. No one expected to be a hero. No one expected to push into the storm of the Wicked God Southward and cut His heart. But someone did. After the war, what returns to the farms and the shops? The homes? Men with shadows in their hearts, with darkness and magic in their eyes. They see the world differently now. Few will understand their pain.

I found this to be a darkly magical and enchanting look at siblings, at war, and at how far we will go to protect what's ours. The farm is Hallie and Marthe's farm. It will be their farm as long as they breathe, as long as they live. No one will push them from it or take control of it. They will stay strong and protect what is theirs, who is theirs. The book is a slow journey through the aftermath of a devastating, complicated war and through the battlefield of sibling politics. It's a book of silent words and birds with spider webs that burn you if you touch them. It's a book I'd recommend to those looking for more powerful, meaningful Canadian YA and to those looking for something a little different in their slightly magical/paranormal recovering from ruin futuristic setting.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from HMH through NetGalley.)

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