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Book Review: Ashes by Joshua Rutherford

Book Review: Ashes by Joshua Rutherford

It's Book Review Wednesday! After a few weeks of break, I'm back with another review—this one for a dystopian short story written by Josh Rutherford, author of Sons of Chenia. This story may not be long, but it's a gut-wrenching look at the true effects of war.


In the not-too-distant future, conflict after conflict has ravaged what was once the United States. Fractured into confederacies, this once Promised Land is now the breeding ground for armies hell-bent on war. Among the soldiers of this landscape is Darren Avery, a decorated Army captain who comes across a handful of underground activists that preach a concept he has never before considered: peace. Ashes Cover Promotion

My Review: 5 Stars

Absolutely fascinating! You start the story with one expectation, but by the end you walk away with a totally new perspective on one of the world's oldest controversies: war vs. peace. The character was fascinating—my only complaint about this story is that it's too short—and the world rich, vivid, and well-built. I was truly not expecting the ending, and it left me very thoughtful. Definitely a short story worth reading!

Here's a Taste:

Four days passed. No envelopes made it to his door. No messages or pictures followed in the wake of that night. Aside from his smoke breaks on the roof, Darren went out only twice during that time. Once for a bag of groceries. The other to watch a few hundred protestors as they passed his apartment building. Try as he might, Darren didn’t see Mike among them. He wore the same clothes from that night as the week progressed. He slept in his shirt and jeans. His wallet and keys remained on him at all times. As did the phone Mike had given him. Then on the fourth night Darren ran out of cigarettes. The inclination to run to the store was absent. As was his craving. Yet his routine compelled him to throw on his jacket, so that he may at least go up on the roof. When he opened the door, he found another envelope. He nearly went on, not wanting to deal with it. Then he noticed a small difference. The envelope was manila. Not legal-sized. He bent to pick it up. He peeked inside. Gray powder. But not like that of the other envelopes. Darren took a pinch between his thumb and index finger. As he suspected, it was finer than the concrete granules of a cinderblock. It felt smoother, lighter. Ashes. His feet found the hallway outside by themselves. Then up the stairwell. Onto the roof. His mind, clear, directed none of his actions or movements. Save one. On the roof, under the cover of fog once more, he pulled out not a pack of cigarettes but an encrypted phone. “Hello?” Mike answered. “The fuckers spoke English.” “Darren?” “You wanted to know what made Eventide so different.” “You mean it? English?” “Stupid, ain’t it? But it’s the damn truth. You have to understand, everywhere I’ve been deployed has been different. Different people in different cities speaking different languages. I heard Arabic in Yemen, Kituba in the Congo. The guerillas in Columbia had brown skin and black hair and spoke Spanish. Even in Nigeria, the extremists there who spoke English had accents. Everyone in every other country I fought was different from us. In one way or another. Then I was deployed to the Southwest . . .” The steady hum of the city – around Darren, through the phone line – filled the otherwise silent soundscape. “And they were like us,” Mike finished.

About the Author:

Joshua Rutherford has wanted to be a writer all his life. Through college and the more than dozen jobs that he has had, his passion for the written word has never ceased. After crafting several feature film screenplays and television pilots that were never produced, Joshua tried his hand at writing a novel. Sons of Chenia is the product of that effort. When Joshua is not writing - which isn’t often - he is spending quality time with his wife, Elisa, and their son, David. The three currently reside in San Diego, CA. Find the book on Amazon: Tweet at Joshua: Connect with him on Facebook: