Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

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I received this book for free from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Ashes on the Waves by Mary LindseyAshes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey
Published by Penguin on June 27th 2013
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal, YA
Source: Penguin Canada
Buy on Amazon

Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever.

With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make awager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, "Annabel Lee," Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love

“He’s cursed. He’s human flesh worn by a demon.”

A fantastically atmospheric Gothic novel, Ashes on the Waves is based on an eerie Edgar Allan Poe poem – which is really all you need to know, right?

In a way, this novel reminded me a little of Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz. It’s set on a secluded island where people live in the old ways without much as far as laws and structure goes. There is also paranormal presence that makes the island unique, and a little chilling. Like in Teeth, you will need to go into this with an open mind as the novel is not considered a paranormal, but a Gothic story. Meaning the paranormal aspects are not examined in detail as far as their history or any kind of explanation behind them. They’re merely a part of the story, and you just have to accept it.

Unexpected because of the cover, we get a male protagonist for this story. Crippled with the use of only one arm and said to have a demon possessing him, Liam is, for good reason, a lost, lonely soul on this island. Having not had much as far as friends or any social contact, he’s inexperienced and a little naive. When Anna, his childhood crush, comes back to the island he’s feeling overwhelmed with emotion. Ashes on the Waves is a love story through and through. It’s romantic and powerful, unmistakably classic true love. Though can their love survive the meddling of the paranormal? I thought this premise was fantastically imagined and does a number on our hearts, but I did find the meddling – creatures trying to sever their love – could have been executed better. I was hoping for more elaborate schemes that would make my heart pound with hopeless fear that they wouldn’t get through it, instead the plans were mostly done without us really knowing what they were until after the fact. As they progressed I started feeling irritated that they were grasping at straws and going through such lengths without (known to me) reason. I think if I had understood the creatures better it would have helped; the poem talks of envy, but I still feel I didn’t have a strong grasp on them and their motives. As for Anna and Liam, I’m not sure why they didn’t scrutinize (and suspect) Ronan much more as well, but I excuse some of it because of Liam’s pure innocence. Regardless, I did find the love story hauntingly beautiful.

The atmosphere is what I loved the most about Ashes on the Waves. The secluded antiquated island is extremely vivid and especially creepy. I could feel the isolation and mystical aura the island was exerting. I could picture everything so very clearly as if I was the one walking the woods, hearing the cries of the Bean Sidhe shrieking in my ears. This is a place where residents get away with murder, burn their dead on pyres, and seek revenge in the most inhumane of ways. I got chills only thinking of what could be in store for Liam who’s hated, even feared, by most of them. Unsurprisingly, there are some great mysteries to go along with the already creepy setting. First there’s the creepiest of all – Mrs Ronan. This woman makes me want to cower in a corner and cry. She’s terrifying! And she obviously has something up her sleeve with her strange going abouts. The second is the mystery of Liam himself. After his birth, his mother was found not only dead but torn apart as if Liam clawed himself out of her. Yikes!

Ashes in the Waves is for fans of tragic love stories. It’s heart-wrenchingly unjust, but also beautiful in its cruel perfection.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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31 Responses to “Review: Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey”

  1. Melanie

    Done. I’m sold. Totally going to try and get my hands on this when it’s released. I’m not the greatest fan of love stories but if it specifically stated it at the beginning, then I’ll be prone to adoring it much more. (Not like when I expect a thriller and get a lovey dovey instant love novel) I do like the sound of hauntingly beautiful.

    Lovely review, Giselle! Good to see that it didn’t disappoint.

  2. Suzanne

    Been dying to read this and your review just sold it to me! Can’t wait for this to be released! 🙂

    Great review as usual.

  3. Amy

    This sounds really awesome!! I am dying to read this one! You had me at “atmospheric Gothic novel! And then “hauntingly beautiful” I need to get this book. Fabulous review as always hon!!

  4. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Ooh love all the Teeth comparisons, I loved that one pretty hard. I had no idea that this one was based on a Poe poem, cool! I don’t know much about him but I did watch the movie The Raven and I really liked it (though that may have only been because of John Cusack because he’s so awesome.) I think I could definitely like this, and that cover screams to me so maybe I’ll give it a go eventually.

  5. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I’ve heard really good things about this story (though the cover just isn’t doing it for me. I know that’s not the author’s fault) and I do like the atmospheric Gothics.

  6. Christianna Marks

    Okay, I’m a fan of Poe! I had no idea that this book was based on one of his poems (I don’t know how I missed that, but I did.) It sounds like even though it had it issues that it’s still a wonderful read. I’ll have to pick it up at some point! Thanks for the awesome review.

  7. Nick

    This sounds like a terrific book! I’m excited for it to come out after reading your review. You make it sound like it’s full of creepstatic moments! Gaahhh! I’m excited! 🙂
    I’m surprised that the protagonist is male since the cover definitely doesn’t hint at that.
    Fabulous review, Giselle!

    I read your BEA post and I’m really happy you had a good time! 🙂 Hopefully, I can make it to BEA next year and we can meet! 🙂 I’d probably die on the spot laughing because you’re just hilarious!

  8. Kris Chen

    I love a classic love story that’s done well. I agree that it helps to know the forces working against them, but the eerie setting and mysteries are intriguing. I’m definitely going to have to pick this up!

  9. Alexa Y.

    This is one of those novels that sounds completely atmospheric — and sometimes, that can be a good thing! I’m not normally a fan of creepy novels like this one, but I may make an exception since you make it sound really good. Plus, it’s very difficult to resist a love story!

  10. Megan K.

    That quote is beautiful. I don’t think I was too excited for this book (not being a fan of the cover), but I’m more hyped up now, that’s for sure! And male POVs are so rare nowadays, so all the more reason to read this. Plus, the MC sounds so different. Glad you enjoyed this, Giselle! Your last paragraph sums up the review perfectly. <3

  11. Ems

    ‘beautiful in its cruel perfection’ – how can I NOT read it after this!? Luckily, I don’t have to wait too long – my ARC for the blog tour is on the way, and I can’t wait to start it!

    Great review!

  12. Kristin A.

    Oo the moment you mentioned Teeth I cringed inwardly. Not a fan of that one. However, I am a fan of Gothic novels, the premise does sound good and it seems like the Author managed to get the creep factor right.

    Kristin @ Blood,Sweat and Books

  13. Soma Rostam

    Hey, Giselle!
    I AM a huge fan of Poe, who isn’t?
    Actually MY FAVORITE poem of his is “Annabel Lee” It is so poetic, and i think that it is what really introduced me into English poetry, since it’s not my original mother language
    I have to say I am intrigued. And i am a huge fan of non-typical, tragedic love stories
    GREAT review, as always
    Your reader,

  14. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    Oohh based on the cover I also didn’t think it would be a male protagonist either. I know some prefer a lot of paranormal explanation but I kind of like to just except that the paranormal is just the way things are in a book and not over analyze it. I love epic love stories but I do like to understand why a something doesn’t want a couple together. It does get annoying when people keep trying to separate them. The setting sounds really intriguing, pretty and eerie. I haven’t read Teeth yet but really want to. I admit I have never read any of Poe’s original work but I always love retellings based off his work.

  15. Ariella Lee

    Your review just convinced me to read this waaaay sooner than I planned. I thought this was interesting because it’s about the Annabelle Lee poem (which I love!). This sounds so hauntingly beautiful that I must pick this up ASAP >.<

    -Ariella @ Secrets of Lost Words

  16. Shooting Stars Mag

    Whew, sounds like one intense read. Not something that would normally appeal to me, I’m certainly curious about the influence from “Annabel Lee.” I love Poe and that poem in particular…as does a friend of mine, so she might really love this too.


  17. Amanda

    I’ll admit that the main thing that is drawing me to this book is the fact that it’s based on one of Poe’s poems. I’m not familiar with the poem, but I think reading it will help me determine whether I want to read this book. I’m not really into creepy, and yet…I love that the protagonist is male and I’m so curious to learn more about this area where he lives. I’m not sure if I can handle the creepiness/weirdness. But I shall see. Glad it worked out for you! Lovely review!

  18. Micheline D

    Despite my love of Edgar Allen Poe, I was undecided about this one if only because my last Poe adaptation fell so flat. After reading your review though, I’ll definitely be checking this one out for myself! I loved how you described the atmosphere…and I love a good mystery 😉 Fab review doll, thanks for sharing the goodness ♥

  19. Jessica R

    This one was not really on my list because I was worried it was going to be the same old paranormal story we’ve seen time and time again (can you tell I’m getting tired of them?). I’m so glad to hear that it isn’t like that. A chillingly atmospheric island setting and a true love story? Might just have to reconsider my position on it, so thanks!