"Ashthorne" Book Review
Written by Zach Rosenberg
Published by Ghost Orchid Press
Written by April Yates
2022, 202 pages, Fiction
Released on August 23rd, 2022
Gothic horror is a genre that blends the past, the present, and the emotions that link them. Hallmarks of the genre include young women arriving at crumbling ruins whose glory days are long past, encountering figures whose family lines conceal dark secrets, and finding love and passion while dodging danger.
April Yates’s Ashthorne is no exception and is an example how to do it right.
Adelaide Frost is a young woman, a nurse amidst the chaos of World War I who takes up residence at Ashthorne manor, a refuge for wounded soldiers. There she meets Evelyn Ashthorne in a quintessential gothic romance. Evelyn is cold and aloof but hides a warm heart and a dark legacy. A romance blooms between the two, but the secrets of Ashthorne threaten to tear them apart.
And the forces that would tear them apart are powerful indeed. There is a power within Ashthorne house, something hungry and old, that will not be sated unless it has Evelyn. Drawing upon folk horror elements, Yates shows us something very dark waiting for Evelyn and willing to kill if it does not get its way.
Yates is wise to initiate the romance between Adelaide and Evelyn quickly, presenting their passions with tenderness, warmth, and electrifying chemistry on the page. Both characters are well-developed and exquisitely fleshed out. They’re flawed people, doing their best in a world that refuses to let them be who they are. Adelaide is forced to confront what desires Evelyn as a sacrifice, something the Ashthornes have a long history with and something that will not be satisfied until it has what it desires.
The secrets of Ashthorne house and what lies within are compelling and grim, but the underlying message is one of freedom; what seeks to bind Evelyn is a force that demands she live out a traditional role as what society expects of her gender.
But Ashthorne is all about refusing to be bound and it resonates all the stronger for it.
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