Survivors must rebuild society in the conclusion to the Ashfall trilogy.
After Stockton’s invasion of Warren in Ashen Winter (2012), Warren’s residents take refuge at Uncle Paul’s farm. Determined to take back their town and unwilling to listen to teenagers who think the plan’s tactically unsound, Mayor Petty leads a frontal assault on Stockton. It ends badly, but that gives Alex the chance to lead a bold, unexpected counterstrike. Once Warren’s retaken, Petty disagrees with Alex’s argument that they need to fortify against future assaults and manipulates Alex into running for mayor against him. Dirty politics create hostility toward Alex’s family. They face abandoning more than just their farm for a defensible location. Their small group ingeniously battles long odds and starvation while creating their new home and greenhouse, necessitating daring stealth raids of Stockton’s stockpile—raids with terrifying stakes. Throughout the novel, every decision has consequences, and characters must constantly decide what they are willing to pay. Reluctant Alex’s leadership is presented as a burden rather than privilege, and his coming-of-age doesn’t prevent other characters from shining. As the small community’s population increases through new arrivals, everyone must learn not only trust, but how and when to forgive. The writing, even in transitory moments of peace, never lets readers forget that potential catastrophe lurks around every corner.
A story about how hope is earned, as heart-pounding as it is heart-wrenching. (Speculative fiction. 14 & up)