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