Ashen Winter is the gripping sequel to Ashfall released in 2011. It is almost a year after the supervolcano erupted in Yellowstone, but the world is still a dark and dangerous place. The climate has plunged to subzero temperatures, food is scarce and millions of people have perished. Those who survive have to struggle daily against the elements as well as dangerous gangs of flensers (cannibals).
Sixteen year old Alex and his girlfriend Darla are some of the lucky ones. They survived their harrowing trek across Iowa and made it to his uncle’s farm in Illinois. There they reunited with Alex’s sister and life settled into a semblance of normalcy. A greenhouse is built, allowing for food. There is plenty of wood for fire and Darla builds a snowmobile that allows the family easy access to town. Everything changes when a gang of flensers attacks the farm and Alex notices that one of them has his father’s shotgun.
After defeating the bandits, Alex and Darla decide to leave the farm and travel back to Illinois to find his parents. This is when things begin to get really intense. Alex and Darla are up against formidable enemies—extreme weather, corrupt military organization Black Lake and a gang of cannibals to start. We also encounter some new characters, the brave Alyssa and her brother Ben.
Ashen Winter is a compelling page-turner from the first explosive chapter, and the suspense does not abate for a moment. Like in the previous novel Ashfall, Mike Mullin does a great job in pulling the reader into Alex and Darla’s terrifying world. Ashen Winter ends with an unexpected twist that will leave you both anticipating and dreading the end of this unforgettable trilogy.
Review by Maddie, CLP-Squirrel Hill