Khanh the Killjoy

Ashes on the Waves

Ashes on the Waves - Mary Lindsey "I wept for my own condition. My loneliness. My misery. Myself."Ye gods, so much emo here.This book starts off with a text of Edgar Allan Poe's beloved poem, Annabel Lee. I am a proud, card-bearing member of the Edgar Allan Poe bandwagon. I absolutely love his writing, particularly his poetry, and Annabel Lee is among my favorite poem among his wide repertoire. The premise of the story being based on the poem suckered me in. And I mean, suckered, since this book is a hot mess with a microscopic connection to Edgar Allan Poe's works. It pisses me off, because it feels like the author uses the famed author's name and quotes his works as more of a selling point than any actual relation or tribute to the author himself. And mark my words, every single fucking chapter starts off with a quotation from a piece of Edgar Allan Poe's writing. I hate thin premises that promise more than they ever intend to deliver. There is an overwhelmingly Celtic feel to this book than there is anything remotely Poe-related.In the book, the main character Liam constantly refers to his love, Annabel Leighton as his "beautiful creature," though there may be no relation between this work and Edgar Allan Poe's, I can see very clearly a definite parallel between this book and the Beautiful Creatures franchise. And make no mistake, I am no big fan of the Beautiful Creatures series.The setting certainly does live up to its "gothic" advertisement. The problem is that it can't make up its mind when the hell it wants to be. We have a present day setting. 2013. It doesn't feel like 2013, not on the island of Dòchas. The people there are ass-backwards. In Dòchas, the calendar is firmly entrenched in the 19th century. The people living there firmly believe in mythical creatures. They believe Liam is a demon; they believe that he killed his mother at his birth. They believe in the bean sidhe, Na Fir Ghorm, Cailleach (washer-woman), selkies, Otherworlders. They barely have technology. They force their daughters to marry at age 14. They have no justice system; a man can kill or beat his wife and get away with it. Servants know their place. The villagers (literally) form lynch mobs to burn/kill off whom they believe to be demons and witches. 2013 is but a distant dream to the people living on Dòchas.Enter Annabel Leighton, the book's version of Paris Hilton. She is a notorious heiress and socialite in New York City, despite her young age of 18. Her parents have gotten so sick of her embarrassing antics that they've shipped her off to Dòchas in the impending event of her brother's wedding to a politician's daughter so she won't be able to embarrass her family any further. She is the definition of entitled, spoiled little wild-child rich girl. At 16, she completely exposed herself in front of strangers, and has been tabloid fodder with her drunken, naked, attention-seeking antics ever since. Spare me the excuses. It takes a whole lot of eggnog to get that drunk, my dear.Even so, Liam has been madly in love with her and keeping up with her life through what he reads of her through the shipped-in newspapers ever since. His only contact with her has been the few times they have played together as children (Princess Annabel and Prince Leem) when she was summering on the island 13 years ago. Liam constantly makes excuses for her self-indulgent behavior; naturally, there is spectacular and head-bashingly unbelievable insta-love on both ends.“You undress, pull pranks, indulge in all manner of chemical substances, and say outrageous things. And you don’t act like you reportedly do in the tabloids. You are deep, sincere, and caring—caring enough to not want to harm another living creature. There’s an element missing on this island that causes you to behave differently. Do you know what I think it is?...Your parents. You and I are very much alike. You want more than anything in the world to be noticed by your parents---to garner their love. Just like me.”So according to Liam, Anna just acts like Paris Hilton because she wants to be loved by her parents. Spare me. Plenty of parents are ignorant of their children. We don't all show our cootch to the public before even reaching legal age.Liam is the reason why I draw the comparison to Beautiful Creatures. In that series, many people have complained that Ethan is too feminine. I've read that book. I agree. I've read a lot of books with male narrators, and I have to say, short of outrightly gay characters, Liam is the most feminine guy I've ever encountered. If I had not known that the narrator was male, I never would have guessed from reading this book. He observes the slightest details when it comes to his obsession of Anna.The way the light reflect on her hair: "Sun flitted across the leaves and boughs as the wind caught the branches, giving the woods life and the magical quality I’d always loved. Flecks of light bounced off of Anna’s long, silky hair, making her appear as ethereal as Titania."The clarity of her skin: "The light from the window reflected off her sleek ebony hair and flitted across her alabaster skin.The clothes she wears: "Ebony waves cascaded over her shoulders, and her clothes, unlike any worn here on Dòchas, clung to her slender form like those from the etching of Venus in my book of nineteenth-century French poetry. I covered my mouth to stifle a gasp."And dreaming of marriage to someone he's barely known, surely that's something teen boys do, right? "The thought of being married to this magnificent creature seemed too fine a fantasy to cast off quickly, so I paced the porch for a moment, letting the images of us together fill my head."Um. No. I'd like to say he is old-fashioned, which he is, but it's not. Liam's observations are nowhere that of the average male. Some romantic readers may say, oh, he's more than that, he's a very sensitive, highly observant male. I don't. I don't buy it at all.Liam is a complete innocent, having never been exposed to popular culture of any kind. His pattern of speech is extremely formal and firmly entrenched in the 19th century, and it is a stark and shocking contrast compared to Anna's casual and very modern speech and pattern of thought. Anna is a typical modern teenage girl, as annoying as she can sometimes be, as entitled as she is. Liam is a character straight out of a Regency HR. The book feels so strange with these two contrasting cultures and thought and speech patterns, from the foreign and very modern Anna, to the ass-backwards waters of Liam and Dòchas. Liam's Ethan-Wate-ish feminity is combined with Lena's sense of martyrdom, self-pity, and emotional flagellation. Liam is such a martyr. He blames himself for everything; he truly believes he's a horrible creature, a demon who will bring about death and destruction among those he touches.Oh, and Francine? She is totally Amma. She cares for him and has been caring for him since his mother died. She gives him advice, defends him against the others who would speak ill of him, she protects him. Francine all but gives him a condom as she pushes Liam and Anna together. It's so weird and creepy.In summary: feminine, unbelievable male narrator, annoying, insta-love between the two very young teens, with a very rapidly escalating and unrealistic relationship. Strange setting that doesn't know what or when it wants to be. People who act out of place, out of time. Flimsy connection to Edgar Allan Poe. Good writing, beautifully atmospheric, but overly dramatic characters and setting. Still does not make up for everything else that's wrong. Skip this book.