Book Title/Author: Ashes On The Waves by Mary Lindsey
Publisher/Year: Penguin June 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
Other Books From Author: Shattered Souls
I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!
Liam lives on the island of Dochas where he is a complete outcast — everyone calls him a demon, his own father hates him and he seems to be cursed. When a childhood friend named Annabel Leighton, the daughter of a family who owns an estate on the island, returns to Dochas things seem to be looking up for him as they their relationship grows. The Otherworlders, the mythical beings that live in the sea, make a wager that human love can’t endure in the face of suffering and trials and put the strength of Liam & Annabel’s love to the test with these terrible obstacles.
I’m so conflicted on this one and I seem to be in the minority as I scanned all the glowing 4 & 5 star reviews of people who seemed to not feel conflicted. Ashes On The Waves was definitely unique compared to what I’ve encountered in paranormal YA with being based off of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” and infused with Celtic lore. I appreciated the fresh feeling the story had but it lacked something for me and I’m going to attempt to explain it though I’m not sure that I’ve quite put my finger on it even still so I’m listing it all out.
What I Liked:
1. The premise: I LOVE LOVE LOVED Annabel Lee when I had to read it in college and thought it was an amazing inspiration for a paranormal story. I loved the way Mary Lindsey took the bare bones of that poem to write a truly compelling story about true love and infused it with Celtic lore and these otherworldly creatures that were testing the love of Liam and Annabel. The story really got interesting when the wager was made and it was so heartbreaking to watch Liam and Annabel’s love being messed with by the Otherworld. You couldn’t help but root for them to conquer all. It was a nail-biter until the very end as we watch the bet get uglier and uglier as Liam and Annabel prevail.
2. The setting: The island of Dochas was creepy — it’s this island that isn’t up to speed with modern life. So everywhere else is much like our contemporary society and Dochas is just archaic and still clinging on to its old ways — including very old superstitions. The writing of Dochas was incredible because it was so atmospheric and haunting and I honestly almost forget this book was set in present day. Dochas definitely took on a life of its own and it was easy to picture this creepy place!
3. The lore: The celtic lore was so interesting to me and I was quickly pulled into all of the otherworldly, mystical beings. It was so refreshing and unique!
4. Liam: I really liked reading this from Liam’s point of view and I really felt for him. He was such an outcast and people were SO cruel to him and he lived with a lot of guilt, a father who hated him and, aside from his boss who I LOVED, he was just so alone. This is one character who I felt like my heart kept breaking for throughout the course of the novel. I was happy that he had Annabel (for his sake) and as soon as that wager was made I was LIKE COME ON LET HIM HAVE SOMETHING GOOD IN HIS LIFE.
What Didn’t Work So Much For Me:
1. Annabel & Liam (and my connection to them): OK, so from the get go we know this is an epic love story that is being tested by the Otherworld. We are supposed to root for them because they are being put through the ringer and we want love to prevail. To some degree, I really did root for them but more so on principle and not because I really FELT their relationship. I really didn’t FEEL connected to their love story — it just honestly didn’t do much for me maybe until the end but at that point I already felt like a fly on the wall rooting for them rather than feeling the passion they had for each other. It’s going to come down to, I think, whether or not you connect with their love story. I can’t tell if my disconnect was because I didn’t GET Liam’s intense love for Annabel after really only knowing her as a little girl but following all the news stories about her crazy, socialite life or if I just didn’t GET Annabel and if I really felt her passion for him like I did Liam’s.
2. The pacing: I understand the beginning was setting up Dochas, Liam’s life and Annabel’s return to Dochas but it CRAWLED for me. There was no pull for me to read other than knowing I was promised an awesome premise. I seriously kept sideeying the book for a bit because I was bored to tears and almost got sunburnt because I fell asleep reading. HOWEVER, I will say once the wager is made…BOOM. You won’t be able to put it down. The mystery pulls you in and you are so invested in seeing how the wager affects Liam and Annabel.
If you are looking for a fresh YA paranormal novel that is NOT part of a series, Ashes on Waves is a good one! It’s well written, the setting is one that you feel transported to easily with its creepy and haunting atmosphere and its a tale of epic love that is being challenged by Otherworldly creatures who try to break them apart because of a wager. The Celtic lore was fascinating as well and I was quickly sucked into this story. HOWEVER, being that this is a tale of epic love, my problem was that I never connected or felt ANYTHING towards their love story until maybe the very end which made me feel quite distanced from this read. However, I’d still recommend and hope that you connect to their love more than I did.
Let’s Talk: Have you read of this one? Heard of it or is it on your TBR? If you have read it, did you enjoy it or no? Did you feel connected to the romance? Anybody know of any other Poe inspired stories?