Magic Monday: Lands of Ash by HL Burke

Once a month I post a book review for a fantasy novel that I’ve read in the recent past. These reviews are posted on “Magic Monday”, the second Monday of every month.

Cover courtesy of HL Burke @ hlburkeauthor.com
Cover courtesy of HL Burke @ hlburkeauthor.com

Today I’m reviewing Lands of Ash by HL Burke, a fantasy novella for young adults (and adults who enjoy a good fantasy).

I should give a brief disclaimer before I continue with this review… I do know HL Burke. However, she did not solicit this book review. I’m reviewing it because I enjoyed the book.

Lands of Ash slips from one POV to another, though the main characters are definitely Captain Karvir and his brother Ketyl, who take the brightest spotlights. Karvir’s wife, Willa, also plays a role, as done young Brode, a boy whose journey at first doesn’t seem to be part of Karvir and Ketyl’s tale.

The story is set in a world on the brink of destruction–cliche phrasing, I know, but humanity really is about to fall thanks to the relentless attacks of the Elementals. Specifically, the Fire Elementals. Humanity lives in the Convergence plane, so named for being the place were all the elements mix; there are four other planes to which portals can be opened…but only by the portal keeper. With only one portal keeper alive at a time, and the Fire Elementals having the current one, it’s been easy for the Elementals to slowly consume everything green and beautiful.

It took me a couple of starts to get into the story, first, because I was busy with things, then because my Kindle was misplaced, but I’m so glad I finally read it, because it definitely stands on par with Burke’s other wonderful books, such as Beggar Magic. However, unlike some of her other books, this is definitely for teens, not kids, and it has a dark side… Be prepared for heartbreak. But also be prepared for laughter, and love, and light–not firelight, but the light of courage, of people striving against a vast and dangerous enemy force to survive.

Brode, and later his younger sibling, capture the war through the eyes of children who are forced to grow up far too fast. The same can be said for Karvir’s daughters, who, along with their mother, must stay strong when their father is summoned to fight in the greatest battle yet. Karvir and Ketyl offer their own views of the war, whether they fight to protect or fight for vengeance, they fight with all their spirit. And dear Willa, loved by so many, who is empathetic and thus cannot fight (she can heal, though, and does it well), does her best to hold everyone together, even when things are at their bleakest.

The concepts behind the story, of Elementals and portals and other planes, are all things that have been done before. Burke, however, adds her own touches to the ideas, and more importantly, she tells the story through the eyes of a variety of people–some of whom you will love, some of whom you will hate, all of whom are as real as the heat of a blazing fire.

In conclusion, Lands of Ash is one of the best books I’ve read in the recent past, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel Call of the Waters.

Intrigued? Lands of Ash is available on Amazon. You can also learn more about HL Burke and her stories through her blog.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know below!