Title: Ashes to Ashes
Author: Melissa Walker
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: December 23, 2013
Callie McPhee knows all the classic Charleston ghost stories by heart.
What she doesn't realize is that she's about to become one.
When Callie's life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven. Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.
With Thatcher at her side, Callie watches in agony while her father, her best friend, and her boyfriend mourn her—and she's not sure she wants to help them let her go; she may be invisible, but she's still here. However, as Callie desperately tries to make contact with the people she left behind, she uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls that always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do anything to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.
When she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love—and break.
Ashes to Ashes is Melissa Walker's sweeping, romantic, and emotionally rich story about the things that torment and tempt us, even from the Great Beyond.
On occasion, I enjoy a good ghost story from the ghost's point of view. Since Ashes to Ashes was compared to Ghost (one of the best movies out there, in my opinion) in some versions of the synopsis, I became excited about reading Callie's story. However, the story was completely predictable and about 150 pages too long.
The world-building in Ashes to Ashes was the most interesting aspect of the novel. I have always been fascinated by everyone's different interpretations of the afterlife, and I liked learning about Prism. It was like a less artsy version of Heaven from the movie What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams (another favorite). Prism is more like Limbo than Heaven, and the spirits stay there to finish their hauntings before they can move on to Solus (Heaven). Each new spirit/ghost had a Guide to take them through the process and that's how Thatcher and Callie are thrown together.
I was about a third of the way into the book, and I knew where the story was going. Well, I had guessed (correctly) about what was going on with Lee and Reena. I knew the secret behind Callie's special snowflake powers without a shadow of doubt. I broke my cardinal rule of reading and skipped to the last chapter of the book. Sure enough, it was EXACTLY as I expected. SPOILER --> Callie was in a coma the whole time. I knew it as soon as Thatcher avoided the funeral question, and when Carson & Nick didn't go to Callie's grave at the cemetery. DUH! <-- END SPOILER
To be fair, I flipped through the middle third of the book that I had skipped, but I didn't really find anything that I needed. I already liked Callie well enough to have been able to read what I had, but I never really connected with her. (If it's not there before 100 pages in, it's not coming.) Thatcher really did not interest me because broody, standoffish male protagonists make me tired. The "villains" were even too vanilla for my tastes.
There are plenty of twists and turns in Ashes to Ashes that were obvious to me a mile away but may work for you. Perhaps you'll even enjoy the journey more than I did, and I wish you the very best of luck on it. Dust to Dust is the next book in the duology, but I'll be skipping it.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.