Publisher: Write Plan
Author: Haley Sulich
Release: May 10th 2018
Warnings: Cutting, alcoholism, suicides
I received a copy of Crimson Ash in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Crimson Ash is a set in a post-apocalyptic world, where a mad man rules most of the humans, leaving those captured with a choice; join the city, or die. Some aren’t sent to the city, where instead they’re turned into soldiers. Based on the stories, I’m not sure which is worse. Solanine lives in this world; having lost almost everyone she loves already, including her sister.
Warnings first: This novel covers a lot of seriously heavy and intense subjects, such as mind control, alcoholism, cutting, and suicides, as well as attempted suicides. On the whole most of these scenes aren’t gratuitous, but they are there and the author does not shy away from them. If any of these subjects are very upsetting for you, I would strongly urge you to reconsider reading this one.
I went into this novel all excited and hoping to love it; I liked the description, loved the cover, and adored the name. But I’ll confess I was a bit disappointed by it, all things considered. It has so much potential, but it didn’t quite succeed in capturing my full attention or emotions.
I think my biggest problem with the novel was the attempt to use serious and painful moments to elicit reader reactions and force character growth. This left me feeling like it was rushed, and ultimately like the author didn’t really understand the depth of which she was dealing with, which sounds harsh, I know, but these serious subjects (loss of a loved one, cutting, suicide, alcoholism) were mentioned so frequently and casually it feels borderline callous.
I did end up liking Solanine, despite everything. And while I never really got attached to her sister, Ember, I did find myself hoping they’d figure out a happy ending. Which at times felt like it was never going to happen. There were points where it seemed like the two sisters were stuck in a loop; one would lose something or someone, then the other would, and so on and so forth.
The conclusion came a few chapters later than I would have liked, as I feel like they could have cut out a few cycles of that loop and still had a fully formed and effective novel. By the time things were finally resolved I almost felt like some parts were overdone.
I will say that I really loved the cute romance between Kane and Solanine. They’re oddly perfect for each other, even if their romance was forced at times (mostly when other characters intervened to tell point out the obvious and encourage Solanine to tell Kane how she felt, despite having just lost somebody very dear to her).
I should probably mention the perspective switch between the two main characters. Solanine’s story and perspective is told in third person, while Ember’s is in first person. I didn’t mind this at first, but it was occasionally jarring to switch back and forth between the two. I know some readers are real sticklers about perspective changes, so I thought it best to mention.
I still can’t get over how much potential this book had, and maybe that’s why I’m being a bit harsh on it. I loved the concept of it, as well as the setting and world that Sulich has created. It was everything else that fell a bit flat for me. Despite that, I’m looking forward to whatever Sulich writes next – they have some great ideas, and experience will only help them here.