Friday, February 7, 2014

Book Review: ASHEN WINTER (ASHFALL #2) by Mike Mullin

Ashen Winter (Ashfall, #2)
Also see my review of ASHFALL, Darla's Story, and SUNRISE

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a rare and wonderful find. I thoroughly enjoyed ASHFALL, and had very high expectations for ASHEN WINTER, which Mike Mullin delivered as easily as Alex traded away his kale seed packets and fiercely loved Darla to the very last page. At nearly 600 pages, this book would appear to be a slow read, with burdened pacing and a snail's pace plot. However, this book turned out to be a breathtaking, fast-paced, agonizing read where every page met with plot twists, cliff hangers, and seriously triggered my asthma more than a few times. I chided Mike Mullins to add a trigger warning for asthmatics, to which he admitted his own struggle.

I have not found a book or series with such well-developed characters, both main and minor, such gripping storytelling, and a second book of a trilogy that delivers everything it promises to and more. I am stunned by the depth of Alex's task, something that would appear at first to be simple to complete, but through the course of the pages, turns into an epic quest that kept me turning pages all the way to the end.

Having read two books with many of these beloved characters, they are now cemented in my mind and very much alive to me as a reader. I loved the strength of both Alex and Darla, and the way Mike Mullin used their story to present what an apocalyptic disaster would do to two young people with the will to survive, seeking to find a durable future together.

With such seemingly effortless detail, Mike uses his exhaustive knowledge and obviously well-researched insights to bring to life how every gun, vehicle, seed, medicine, food, and tool might play into the survival of those trying to find a way to live when the world is covered in ash and snow, ice and devastation. These details paint a vivid backdrop to the otherwise bleak surroundings Alex and Darla trudge through on their journey.

Now I am eager to dive into SUNRISE, the final book of the trilogy, and have determined to add Mike Mullin to my "auto read" shortlist of authors.

Thank you, Tanglewood Press, for finding not just a diamond in Mike Mullin, but a veritable goldmine in this articulate author, who would make Smaug himself take another look in his direction.

What an amazing story of survival, overcoming, and love. Mike, you gutted me near the end, which I won't spoil here, but you did so in a way I had to choke back my tears, and accept the hard truth, and the world left behind in its wake. Your title speaks admirably well to that fact, an ASHEN WINTER both sobering and as gripping as if we were being flensed by your words.

Powerful, powerful read.

I will be ruminating on this one for a long while. Thankfully, I have Darla's Story and SUNRISE to satiate my craving for more. 5/5 stars is a mere nod to this book. 100 stars would be closer. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

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