The Ashes and the Sparks by Mary Victoria Johnson
A Young Adult Fantasy Novel published by Fire and Ice for Young Adults (10/18/16)
“You can hide things as well as you want, but they’ll never go away. Not entirely.” (Kindle Locations 1209-1210).
Jorun spends her nights prowling around underground with a group of other teenagers. They run through a series of tunnels under their isolated island village, pretending to be monsters to scare their family and friends. One day, a boy from a neighboring island makes his way into their secret tunnels with stories of real monsters – invaders in airships. At first nobody believes him, but after the sky is darkened by flying ships, they will have to believe him and do something about the invasion.
Steampunk, Isolation, Small Village, Friendship, Family, Adventure, Danger, War, Technology, Weapons, Fighting, Civilization, Parallel Reality, Tension
I have never before read a book where part one and part two worked so well together even though they were very different from each other. The first part of the novel was about a new civilization that had its own customs and traditions. The main character, Jorun, felt different and didn’t quite fit into her society’s customs. This story was interesting, especially with the secret tunnels and the mythology the people told their children. I was intrigued. It was hard to like Jorun at first though, since she spent her nights scaring little kids. She wanted to impress the other tunnelers and didn’t really try to change anything about her role in the village or rebel against the tunnelers when she didn’t agree with what they were doing.
Part two really brought the story and Jorun to life. She became a stronger person and didn’t just follow the traditions of her village or the footsteps of the other teenagers. She became alive and defiant and a true strong main character.
The dynamics of the parallel universe of Europe were fascinating without feeling politically cumbersome. The plot twists totally threw me and completely made sense! Part one dragged a bit, but part two was excellently paced and the climax was very exciting.
It was nice to read a standalone fantasy/steampunk with a good and satisfying ending. I look forward to seeing what Johnson comes up with next.
This novel was published by Fire and Ice for Young Adults on October 18th, 2016 and is available on Amazon here.
TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75
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