I'm still trying to catch up on April's reviews, especially of the fantasy I've been reading for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge.
An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet is a dark, atmospheric fantasy. Hallie and Marthe, the two sisters who own Roadstead Farm, wait for Marthe's husband to return home from the recent war. As the women are about to give up on Tom's return, Heron, a wandering veteran, arrives, and Hallie convinces Marthe to hire him to help get the farm through the winter.
Then the Twisted Things arrive. Are they following Heron?
Bobet's language is often beautiful and contains fresh and powerful imagery:
"His color was coming back, sun-brown instead of pale, but he still looked like he'd watched his house burn down and been fed the ashes." What a potent description of shock and misery.
And "There was no light in the smokehouse past the edge of sun creeping around the doorstep, but the knife shimmered like fresh water."
The world building left me curious, but not satisfied. It is a post-apocalyptic world to begin with, great cities and human progress destroyed in the distant past. Then there is the strange and never fully explained war with a "Wicked God," who has been destroyed. Or not. A parallel world from which the twisted things continue to escape, destroying all they come in contact with. This Wicked God, parallel world, twisted things concept didn't feel fully realized to me. More questions than answers.
A distinct and complicated family dynamic is at work involving the sisters. Are they repeating the "war" between their father and their uncle? It has long been a family on the verge of disintegrating, but can Hallie and Marthe resolve the conflicts? Themes of the effects of war on the individuals who fight, of words that linger and poison, and of good intentions that often fail are also intertwined throughout the novel.
The atmospheric details create an eerie, menacing mood, but the pacing is slow. In spite of the potential, I never felt fully a part of this world. I almost loved An Inheritance of Ashes, but not quite. It was a near-miss for me, and yet, many of the scenes linger visually. A book that left me with some vivid images and some questions.
Fantasy/YA. 2015. 388 pages.