An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I downloaded this book from Edelweiss on a whim - I didn't know much about it, but I was curious about the author, and the paranormal aspect of the book. I've not read Bobet's debut novel. This novel was certainly unique, I don't think I've read anything like it before. While I didn't fully enjoy it, I did think it was pretty good!
Hallie and her sister Marthe have been running their family's farm for years. With their father long dead, and Marthe very pregnant (she's 26, I believe), and Thom (Marthe's husband) still not home from the war, Hallie feels the pressure and failure of running things by herself. The war between human and Twisted Things and the Wicked God is over - or is it? When Twisted Things start to show up at Hallie's farm, and a a man asks to be hired help around the farm, Hallie knows that something is not right. Monsters and regiments both invade the farm, but Hallie will stop at nothing to protect what is hers, and her family.
I had a hard time getting into this book initially, just because of the tone set. I'm putting this in the "likes" section because technically this shows how well Bobet wrote the opening scenes! There is so much sadness and pain. The prologue is a part of the past, in which Hallie's father and Uncle Matthias are fighting, and Uncle Matthias leaves. And then the first chapters open with Hallie working like a slave on the farm, her older sister vastly pregnant and awaiting the return of her husband from the way.
We don't get all the details about what happened in the war, what the war was about, what the creatures were. We know that the Twisted Things are monsters from the Wicked God's world, and that John Balsam stabbed the Wicked God in the heart, thus ending the war. All of the paranormal aspects of this book are accepted and known, nothing comes as a surprise.
There are more issues than just the reappearance of Twisted Things. Hallie and her sister have been running the farm, but Mayor Pitts doesn't want to help them in any way with the farm. When he hears that there are Twisted Things by the farm, he immediately wants to quarantine the area and send the regiment. And then there's Hallie's relationship with Marthe. Hallie feels like a failure around Marthe - nothing she ever does is good enough for Marthe, and she expects Marthe to throw her out like their father ran out Uncle Matthias.
I liked Hallie a lot, though I think she wallowed in self-pity one too many times. She is a strong girl, much strong than she thinks she is. She is more caring and kind and selfless than she gives herself credit. She lets Heron, the veteran from the war, stay on the farm as a hired help, even though she finds something odd about him. She is best friends with Nat, a neighboring farming family's daughter, and Tyler, the older brother and veteran. Hallie is someone I felt myself understanding, even if I've never been in her position (running a farm, living in the midst of war, etc.).
The story is interesting, though it could have been more so if not for one or two things that I didn't enjoy (see below). Hallie and the gang are focused on figuring out where the Twisted Things are coming from, and how to stop them from coming. It seems like they are appearing from thin air, over the farm! So Hallie, Heron (the veteran), Nat, and Tyler are trying to find a way to stop them - without Marthe knowing.
There is a little romance! No love triangle, which was nice. I thought there might be, given that Hallie does become close friends with Heron, but they are never romantically interested in each other, or involved. Hallie and Tyler grew up together, and it's adorable and sweet to see them fall for each. Especially Hallie, since she kind of wakes up and realizes that Tyler likes her. I liked this! The romance is probably my favorite aspect of the book.
Now on to the bad stuff.
What I Did Not Like:
Hallie and Marthe's relationship is easily the most toxic and least likable part of this book. Hallie spends basically the entire book feeling like a failure to her sister, but also disliking how her sister makes her do everything on the farm and doesn't like how Hallie does it. I didn't like Marthe at all. I don't care how the author wanted to spin Marthe's character towards the end of the book. Marthe seemed like a total b**** to me. I don't care if she's pregnant. She could be a lot nicer to Hallie, her SISTER. Instead, she is cruel and crabby and unforgiving and unyielding. No wonder Hallie distanced herself from Marthe? I wouldn't want to be around Marthe either! I'd want to get the f*** out of there and never look back.
This book lost at least a star because of Marthe. I know the author WANTED us to understand Hallie and Marthe's odd relationship, but that didn't mean I enjoyed it. I didn't like reading it. I was furious with Marthe, and didn't like her, despite her being a protagonist. This book is written entirely in Hallie's first person POV, but Marthe is a very significant player in the story. I didn't like her though. Pregnant or not, she was rude. And a terrible person.
I thought this book was also a bit boring. It doesn't have a lot of action, which I was kind of expecting. The synopsis had me thinking there would be some serious war and fighting going on, but the war just ended (or did it...?). Also, the synopsis says things about "family truths" - I don't know what they're talking about? There are no " ugly truths about Hallie’s own family" that I remember. The death of her father, which was pretty significant in the backstory, is still a mystery to me. I feel like that should have been something that came back and impacted the story more directly!
Also, did I mention boring? Meandering pace. It took me three days to finish this book. Usually I'll read a book in three straight HOURS.
Would I Recommend It:
Eh, no. You're not missing out with this one. You're not going to gain an epic story or something. I wish I hadn't requested this book, which is a really big reason why this book is getting 2 stars (not 3 stars). I could have gone my life without reading this one, sadly!
2.5 stars -> rounded down to 2 stars. It's unfortunate that I went on a whim and downloaded this one, but ended up kind of regretting it? I know it seems like there were a lot of things I liked, but the big negative ones eclipsed the small positive ones. Anyway, at least I finished it!
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