The Ashes and The Sparks by Mary Victoria Johnson
Genre: YA alt-history Fantasy
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Format: I received a ecopy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
You can purchase the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Sparks-Mary-Victoria-Johnson-ebook/dp/B01LX4BW9Q/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481168736&sr=1-4
Welcome to the age of airships. It is a world powered by steam and innovation, ruled by an elusive empress at its heart.
Seventeen year-old Jorun is not part of this world. Hers is one of hidden tunnel networks and lights that dance across night skies, on that has remained separate from the rest of society for over a thousand years. This all changes when a boy appears from nowhere, raving about invaders from a faraway land. Purely by chance, Jorun soon finds herself in the middle of a struggle unlike anything she could have ever dreamed of, and must come to the realization that only she can stop an impending war.
First of all, I’m so happy to be able to review this book, written by a fellow teen. It’s always so much fun to read books by such young authors, and I feel like they really understand the viewpoint their audience would have on their book. Mary Johnson’s writing is so matured, and if you didn’t know she was only 18, you’d think that this book was written by someone much older (this is a good thing by the way).
Ok so second of all, I don’t usually read books in this genre so I was a bit wary of what I would think of it going in. The prologue of the book really confused me for the longest time (until like chapter 4 when I finally understood what was going on) and it dragged for a little bit but finally picked up the pace around chapter 6/7. From there, everything happened so quickly that the book flew by. Every detail was covered, and the pace of the book was set really fast and it takes a lot of skill as a writer for that to happen.
I fell in love with the characters, especially Jorun, the main character. She’s so determined but she also has a soft side which eventually comes back to bite her in the butt. She knows what’s best for her family and isn’t afraid of anything, even if it means giving everything up to go to a foreign land, with no idea what is in store for her or if she will ever see any of the people she’s known all her life ever again.
I really liked her friends as well, and how well they all work together. Their tunnels are their secret hiding spot where no one else on the island know about, until one day they find an intruder claiming that foreign people came and invaded his island and killed everyone while he was able to get away. This was the introduction to Fredrick, and immediately, I didn’t like him. Something about his stories just didn’t match up, and I still don’t get what his intentions were but I just know that they weren’t good. He was in to do whatever it takes to get revenge even if it means killing everyone, doing the same amount of damage as the foreign people.
The foreign people turn out to be from Britain, more specifically, Carrie the Empress and her people. A lot is explained about her past, and I found myself wanting to know more about her past. It’s not just adventure, a lot of the book touches on political issues, between conquests and between bordering empires. Carrie, the Empress does what she has to in order to get the people to cooperate with her orders, but it is still unclear what her intentions were with blowing up and killing all the people on the 4 islands. There is also the political issue of spies, and how quickly someone can turn against their own.
Another thing I wanted to know more about is their scars, the orlegs, and what they mean, how it impacts them etc… It came true for one of Jorun’s friends and I want to see how hers impact her life and how she deals with it.
The ending of the book was pretty good, while leaving room for more to be explored or explained. I believe there is to be another book in this series, set 20 years in the future and I know that I will be reading it. I want to know what happens next for Jorun and Carrie, and how they cope with losing almost everything.
Overall, I actually really liked the book and I give it a 8/10 (4/5 stars). I recommend it for anyone who wants to break into reading the alt-history genre or if you already love it. It’s a really well written book, and the plot and the characters were all developed very well. So what are you waiting for? Go get the book now!
So what did you think about this review? Will you go and pick it up? Have you read it already? Leave me all your thoughts in the comments below or find me on social media, @BrookeEvans2001 on Twitter and @thecozylittlebooknook on Instagram. Don’t forget to check back soon as I have posts going up almost every day!
Brooke's a high schooler who loves to read all sorts of books. She's happy to be able to share all the books she's reading with all of y'all.