‘Ashes of Another Life’ is a haunting, supernatural tale of a young girl (Tara Jane) who is plagued by visions of her family that perished in a fire. Tara Jane now lives with her foster parents but is being pursued by somebody from the polygamous community she once was a part of.
Lyndsey Goddard’s story takes us inside a community of religious zealots where young children are married off at a young age and the looming threat of God’s punishment is forever present. This is a really well written short novel. The harrowing look inside the community is very real and Tara jane is a protagonist you can easily identify with. She is often fragile and frail which is unsurprising given her ordeal at the hands of the father (the leader of the community), yet you can’t help but admire her strength in adversity.
Being a novella, things move at a brisk pace. The cat and mouse scenario involving Tara Jane and a peruser from the community is creepy and there is one scene in particular involving Tara’s case worker that proves to be uncomfortable reading. The descriptions of Tara’s visions of her deceased family are also harrowingly portrayed, young children with their blackened skins and gruesome disfigurements at the hands of the fire are ever present, never allowing the reader to feel comfortable for too long.
I went into reading this novella expecting a well-written and solid ghost story, but what I ended up getting was much richer and much more emotionally engaging than I could ever have expected. Goddard’s writing is excellent, I mean really, really good, thoughtful when it needs to be and other times horrific. The inclusion of the religious fanatics from the community and in particular the father is a masterstroke, breathing fresh life into the often cliched ghost story. In my opinion this is without doubt a five star read.
Pick up a copy of this excellent novella from here.