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May 9, 2018

Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich ~ A Review

by MK French

In a future devastated by the virus the Devil's Dream, survivors are given a Choice: to die or to live in the government-run city where every moment is tightly regulated and observed for deviance. The Choice is given by soldiers, who are children stolen from families with their memories erased. They endure a harsh life in the City of Soldiers, and feel no emotion, which is considered a weakness. Sixteen-year-old Ember Lucille is one such soldier, stolen away eight years before the start of the book. She has no emotional connection to Solanine Lucille, who had found the leader of the rebels to try to help rescue Ember. Even getting her out of the government control isn't enough, because both sisters have secrets they are sure will devastate the other.
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Crimson Ash
May 2018; Write Plan; 978-1948115018
ebook, print (368 pages); YA, dystopian
Crimson Ash is a book that deals with very heavy topics: child soldiers, teen alcohol abuse, self-harm, thoughts of suicide, mind control, and the live-or-die reality of this world. There are many moments when the characters are caught up in their own pain and loss, which is certainly understandable. They've all lost so much, with hope dangling just out of reach. The secrets that the sisters keep from each other are emotional bombshells, and it certainly increases the misery that they feel. As opposed to a number of other post-apocalyptic teen novels, this one really doesn't shy away from the horrors of war or scrounging for meals in the wake of disaster. The main characters are all teenagers, so they don't have very good ways to cope with the disaster that's befallen them.

The plot was a constant roller coaster of events. Just when I thought I could predict what would happen next, something different would occur. The villains aren't exactly one dimensional and are smart enough to have lived in this reality and reshape it to their will. There is no easy solution, and no pat ending full of puppies and rainbows. Ember has a good way of describing that eventually: "No matter how many times we say we're fine, there will always be a part of us that isn't because we are prisoners of our pasts. When we think we're free, the memories flood back and remind us where we came from." For those that have ever dealt with trauma, this will resonate. Recovery is a process, no matter the traumas and how people get there. "We live for the memories of the ones lost, to do what they never had the chance to do."

Buy Crimson Ash at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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