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Ashes, Ashes: a review

Jo Treggiari’s novel Ashes, Ashes kicks off with the infamous nursery rhyme,

“Ring around the roses

A pocketful of posies

Ashes, ashes

We all fall down”

In many places, especially the UK (where the author is from), this rhyme is believed to be about the Black Plague.

This is appropriate for Treggiari’s book due to its very cynical outlook on what the future holds.

Skipping the ever-so-stereotypical escape at the end of the world, Treggiari instead opens with the protagonist Lucy Holloway hysterically laughing over a corpse.

Lucy has survived the end of the world, hemorrhagic smallpox epidemics, droughts, floods, the S’ans (people infected by the plague that survived) and last, but certainly not least, the Sweepers.

As a result of the hemorrhagic smallpox epidemic, only one in 1,000,000 survived. Even if you were vaccinated as a kid, you still had a high risk of infection from the hemorrhagic smallpox. It is said that if you were not vaccinated then you were a part of the 100% mortality group. And if that didn’t get you regular smallpox did, leaving only one in 100,000 alive.

After all this death and carnage Lucy is found by a boy named Aiden while on the run from the Sweepers. Aiden immediately takes a liking to her and invites her to join what little is left of civilization, instead of sleeping outside all by her lonesome.

Although skeptical at first Lucy follows him to this camp and soon learns of her special circumstances. Unbeknownst to her, there is a traitor in the camp that seeks to keep things in “order” and informs the Sweepers of their current position in hopes that they will take Lucy away. Soon after, the camp is raided and Lucy is not part of the kidnapped and is left behind. In an attempt to save the kidnapped she also learns why the Sweepers will stop at nothing to have her.

Ashes, Ashes is an ensnaring tale that reaches out, grabs readers and leaves them wanting more. Never a dull moment even when the action has lulled to simple mundane tasks. The imagery alone makes you want to cry, scream, yell, and sometimes even vomit. The characters are courageous and kind, with villains that make you sit up and yell about “Never having thought that way before.”

Treggiari sweeps you into a tale of courage, treachery, romance and your deepest fears hidden in the recesses of your mind.

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