“… darkness creeps in like music, like an intoxicating melody playing to our own vanities …” – Ashes of Gold by J. Elle
Darkness isn’t the only intoxicating melody in J. Elle’s second novel in The Wings of Ebony duology. A river of magic carries the words and the story as Rue/Jelani fights to save her people. Ashes of Gold picks up a few months after Wings of Ebony left off, but it was easy to fall back into step with Rue.
It was much harder turning that last page and letting her go.
Rue struggles early on, and it’s natural under the circumstances. She’s plagued by uncertainty as she picks up the pieces from her failure to defend her people and tries to recover her memory, and that’s relatable. Feeling responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people is a heavy burden to bear, no matter how strong you are. People go to war and come back broken, and Rue’s still living in a war, hasn’t really had time to grieve for over the deaths of her moms and dad, and people are looking to her to make things right. That’s a lot to shoulder.
She’s also lost everyone she would normally rely on. She can’t hop back to East Row and abandon Ghizon. She has to figure out who to trust, and that’s a hard thing to do when there are people (literally) around every corner trying to destroy you.
I think she had to go through what she did to be able to make the choices she made in the end. I won’t elaborate more on that because I don’t want to include spoilers. For me, the story worked, and it isn’t just the story of Rue’s redemption. It’s the story of love, loss, forgiveness, and embracing your identity.
Ashes of Gold burns through the pages with a relentless storyline that doesn’t give readers time to breathe. Danger lurks around every corner, and Rue has to overcome multiple obstacles in her journey. This is a thoroughly engaging story and a compelling resolution to Rue’s journey. Leaving Rue may be tough, but I look forward to what J. Elle has in store for us next.
Review by Sandra Ruttan
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