Monday, July 29, 2013

Becky View: Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey
♦publisher: Philomel/Penguin
♦release date: June 27th, 2013
♦hardcover, 373 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever.

With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make awager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, "Annabel Lee," Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.

Review: Mary Lindsey's sophomore YA novel, Ashes on the Waves, is a gorgeous gothic retelling of Poe's Annabel Lee.  If you know the poem, you know it doesn't end well, but the love story is one of such purity that even the gods are jealous.   Lindsey captures all the drama and innocents of the original poem, while putting such an imaginative spin on it that by the last scene, I'd forgotten what was coming and the ending effectively crushed me.  Lindsey also finds a fun way to pay even more homage to Poe; each chapter begins with a Poe quote that foreshadows what is about to take place.

Liam lives among a small island community that has clung to it's old ways and legends.  He was born with a birth defect, a paralyzed arm, and their backwards thinking brands him as a demon. He is so harshly outcast by the towns people that your heart just can't help but hurt for him on nearly every page.  Especially when he is such a good, kind person.  He has one single ally in Francine---I adored her. A shopowner who stands by Liam and is happily willing to tell off anyone who tries to show their prejudice around her.  

Enter Anna, Liam's one childhood friend, a girl he's held a flame for since the day her family moved away.  She returns to the island, temporarily banished from her life of fame in New York.  They reform their friendship and it quickly turns into something much more.  Their story spills out with such a sweet romantic tone and lovely prose, mixed with Anna's New York brand of sassiness and Liam's old-world charm (acquired from reading and rereading the only thing left of his mother's: old volumes of Keats and Tennyson and other classic literature). I'll admit that around page 250 or so, the intensity of their love grew just a bit tiresome, but the story soon picked up with a heavy dose of excitement and danger. 

Mythological creatures take on a big part in this story.  The Na fir Gorhm, cruel sea creatures that like to lure humans to their watery death, take their revenge on Liam when he inadvertently gets in their way.  Selkies are there to witness it all, and one love-sick selkie gets pulled into the Na Fir Gorhm's ugly games.  Then there are the Bean Sidhe (better known as banshees) who only Anna and Liam can hear.  I did love all the mythological world building here, but I did think the way the Bean Sidhe were written was a bit on the cheesy side.  There is a mystery that Anna and Liam are trying to unravel and the Bean Sidhe's screams would tell them if there were on the right path---kind of like a mythical game of "hot and cold".  I did like that they were basically good, a role that banshees are very rarely given!

A beautifully woven tale of love, legend, loss, and perseverance in the face of prejudice. Mary Lindsey's creativity and storytelling continue to impress! 
 Find Mary Lindsey online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase Ashes on the Waves: Amazon  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound


  1. I am in love with Poe's original tale so it's nice that this lives up to that and stays true to it. I was somewhat expecting this book to go against the tragic ending of the poem but it sounds like that is definitely not the case. I like the sound of the mythological creatures too!

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

    1. Yup, I definitely felt like she paid the original great respect, and her creative twists really made it unique!

  2. Yay, I'm really happy that you enjoyed this one so much! I've been hearing some mixed things, but I definitely want to look in on this one, especially with that fact that Mary kept to the poem well, and also with the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The fact that the worldbuilding was good, albeit cheesy, was really great too :)

    1. I especially love the quotes! They were from all of Poe's works, not just Annabel Lee, which made it kind of neat! I can see how it would get mixed reviews though, it's pretty stylized...but I really enjoyed it!

  3. A retelling of Annabel Lee? I'll have to check this one out. I love to see how author's interpret Poe's work!

    Fabulous review :)

    1. I love the original eerie and atmospheric. So I was really excited to read this retelling! I think she did a great job with it!

  4. I am very excited to get my hands on this book. I have been wanting to read it since I first saw the beautiful cover. Glad to see that you enjoyed it. Great review!

    Vyki @ On The Shelf

  5. Love your review! The book sounds so beautiful and I can't wait to read it. I love that Lindsey includes Poe's quotes because I like having a look at the source material when reading a novel based on something, and that just makes it easier that it's right there. ^_^