Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

ASHES
Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey
Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin)
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, YA
Length: Full Length (387 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

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.

Liam is cursed by the past while Anna is privileged and free. When the two come together again on the timeless island of Dòchas, it seems as if they’d never been apart. With a love as strong as theirs, it’s no wonder the Otherworlders not only sit up and take notice, but decide to place a wager on the strength of their love.

Liam McGregor is quite the fascinating character. Convinced from birth that he’s harboring a demon within him, he strives to keep his head above water and simply survive. However, despite the hatred and bigotry from the community surrounding him, he immerses himself in the beauty of the written word and the world of art. What I found most impressive was that, even though Liam only had the use of one arm, he still managed to paint, draw, and hold down a job. Even when everyone around him swears he’s evil incarnate, he doesn’t let it get him down. He just accepts it – for better or for worse – and continues to do what he needs to survive.

Anna Leighton, on the other hand, starts out as just another spoiled rich girl slumming it at her parent’s ancestral home on the island. However, her character probably has the most growth over the course of the novel. She evolves from a rather self-centered and self-absorbed teen and becomes a selfless, loving woman. There were moments where I didn’t like Anna very much, but she always managed to redeem herself later.

Ashes on the Waves is a beautiful and haunting retelling of one of my favorite Poe poems, “Annabel Lee”. The author did an amazing job translating the darkness and strength of the narrator’s love for Annabel Lee into a gripping novel. Although the ending left me feeling a bit cheated, every page leading up to that point was pure enjoyment. A very enjoyable, if heartbreaking novel, Ashes on the Waves was nothing like I’d expected, but everything I had hoped it could be.

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