Review: The Hour of Dust and Ashes by Kelly Gay

22 Sep

The Hour of Dust and Ashes by Kelly Gay
Pocket Books (August 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9781451625479

Favorite Lines: “Warmth burst through my belly at the sound of his deep, potent voice. The gentle zing of pleasure it brought told me just how much I’d missed that sound in the last week.” (p. 87)

To save her sister, she must stop a silent killer. . . .

Protecting Atlanta from the off-world criminals of Underground is tough enough, but now Detective Charlie Madigan and her siren partner, Hank, learn that the addicts of the offworld drug ash have begun taking their own lives. Ash makes humans the perfect vessels for possession, and something or someone is leading them to their deaths. Charlie is desperate to save her addicted sister, Bryn, from a similar fate. As New Year’s Eve approaches and time runs out, Charlie makes a deadly bargain with an ancient race of beings and embarks on a dangerous journey into hellish Charbydon with Hank and the Revenant Rex to save Bryn and make it back before it’s too late. Only, for one of them, coming home means facing a fate worse than death. . . .

First of all, I think the blurb on the back of The Hour of Dust and Ashes tells a little bit too much of the story. Charlie does not travel to Charbydon until past the halfway point of the story. The blurb made me think that most of the book would be set in Charbydon and that just wasn’t the case.

The Hour of Dust and Ashes is book three in Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan series about a woman who was injected with two strains of alien DNA.  It’s an urban fantasy novel set in an alternative Atlanta that is perpetually dark. (The city goes dark in book one, The Better Part of Darkness.) There are angelic offworlders from a world of light and hellish offworlders from a world of darkness. I do not recommend starting the series with this book. Read books one and two first.

The characters are fully fleshed out and I enjoyed immersing myself in their world. Gay made it possible for me to connect to each person introduced and reaffirmed everyone’s importance in the world. The characters enhanced the story and added emotional depth and purpose to the story lines.

There’s a lot going on in The Hour of Dust and Ashes, but one of my favorite story lines is the romance that is slowly evolving between Charlie and her siren partner Hank. I’ve love Hank since he was introduced in book one. Book two, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, solidified my feelings toward him and book three shows how utterly perfect for Charlie he is. He doesn’t woo her with flowers; he knows better. He woos her with sweet buns. He lets her know exactly what he thinks about her and how his feelings toward her evolved.

Book three is an evenly paced story which shows Charlie in various life threatening positions, as well as her emotional vulnerability and the strength which resides in her as she makes different decisions. She is smart, steady and the woman you want to have your back if you’re ever in need. Charlie is caring, but she is also able to compartmentalize in order to finish whatever needs to be done, be it caring for her daughter or finding a cure for her sister.

The Hour of Dust and Ashes is a well thought out novel that invites readers to spend hours learning more Hank and Charlie. One major plot line concludes, but another one begins. Expect to be shaken by events taking place at the end of the book and to crave book four. If you haven’t read Kelly Gay’s series, it’s time to you began. The series is only getting better with each book released.


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