After taking a couple of months off from the book club, it was a lot of fun to jump back in for the September read of “White Wolf and the Ash Princess” by Tammy Lash. I have to start out by saying that this was not at all anything like what I was expecting. I don’t know that I even read the blurb before I started reading the book. Which is not actually all that rare, for me. Lately, I have felt that blurbs both in the Indie and Traditional publishing worlds tend to be giving away too many spoilers. So, I tend to skim them, or just read the first paragraph, or not read them at all if it’s a book that someone else has already recommended… as was the case with this story.
This book is beautifully written and completely different from anything I have ever read before. This could partially be due to it being slightly off-set from my typical preferred genre, but I think it was more than that.
There are fantasy elements to this novel, but they are extremely subtle. For the most part, this story reads like an historical romance, though the romantic elements are also extremely subtle and woven into the story in such a way that make it almost seem that they aren’t really there, or that the story doesn’t need them. There’s a hint of steampunk, a glimmer of Christian Inspiration, and a whole lot of adventure. It’s one of those books that just sort of has a bit of everything. And while it boasts no dragons or magic or dark lords of evil intent on conquering the world (or… are there…?) it still captured my heart completely.
The characters truly step off the page. Though books written in first-person present tense are not usually my favorite, I found that I did not mind riding around in the main character’s head. Perhaps it is because Izzy feels more like a real person than a caricature, as can often be the case with first person present tense stories. She is a character who is unsure of who she is, she has holes in her memory and cannot remember anything prior to coming to live at Gudwyne cottage—though she knows she was burned in a bad fire at some point before then, she has the scars and the memories of being cared for after they happened, but she does not know how or why she was burned. And yet, her uncertainties do not define her. She is not crippled by her doubts and fears, but works to overcome them, and even uses them to spur herself on when faced with adversity.
Jonathan is Izzy’s self-appointed guardian. Though he is only 8 years her senior, he has been taking care of her since she was seven years old. Back then, Izzy gave him permission to keep her past a secret, to hold her memories for her. But now, Izzy is eighteen and starting to feel the weight of those secrets… she wants to know who she was and what happened to bring her to the Gudwyne’s, but Jonathan seems unwilling to loose the secrets he has been holding for the past eleven years…. so Izzy sets out with her young friend, Tubs, to find the answers to the secrets Jonathan refuses to tell her. However, in spite of her curiosity, she is unprepared for the truth. When she sees a glimpse of what has been hidden from her, Izzy is not sure she will ever recover… or see Jonathan the same way again.
But events are transpiring swiftly, and before she can begin to cope with the fragments of her stolen past that are returning, she finds herself thrust into a new adventure across the ocean to the New World, where the rest of her history and heritage lie waiting for her to claim them, as well as her rightful place among her true people.
There were moments in this story that made me laugh out loud. Izzy has a no-nonsense, self-deprecating sense of humor, and her stray thoughts are often truly amusing.
There were moments in this story that got me a little choked up. And there were moments in this story that had me sobbing uncontrollably and incapable of reading further until I could clear my eyes of the tears that made the pages swim into an unreadable jumble of blurry letters.
There were surprises, and adventures, and a beautiful Christian message of forgiveness and salvation woven throughout the story in a way that was both gentle and not-at-all-preachy or allegorical. If you like stories such as The Sign of the Beaver, Hind’s Feet on High Places, Pride and Prejudice, and The Ilyon Chronicles, this book is one I think you would definitely enjoy: it has elements of all of these.
Five Dragon Eggs
I do feel that I should mention that this is a book I feel would benefit from another sweep from a proofreader. There were a handful of typos/grammatical errors. Not enough to be distracting, but enough to be noticed.