I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the latest book by Helen Fitzgerald on my blog today, Ash Mountain. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.
Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.
She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer. As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…
Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…
Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald is unlike any other book I’ve read so far this year. This is a fast and furious read that will pull you into the setting and the secrets that are buried in the small town waiting to be unearthed.
Fran Collins has recently returned to her hometown, Ash Mountain, to care for her father, but the town is full of dark memories and a deep sense of injustice. Helen Fitzgerald’s description is vivid as the novel opens with darkening clouds and streaks of orange and red as a fire rages out of control. This scene did bring images back to my mind of the Australian wildfires at the start of the year. Helen then takes the plot back thirty years and in the days leading up to the fire, as we begin to see the true scale of what Fran and the residents the town have been through over the past decades. And Helen’s revelations lead up to a pivotal, heart-pounding moment as the book raced towards its conclusion.
As we begin to go back in time to see what happened in Fran’s childhood, I could feel the tension rising. There is an impending sense of doom as the timeline ticks down to the day of the fire. Harrowing and dark secrets are unearthed, and even before the flames take hold, it seems as though there is a dark cloud hanging over Ash Mountain and the people who live there. You can feel that everything is about to come apart at the seams and that things may never be the same for the people of the town. This is what keeps the tension turning up a notch as the novel progresses.
Helen Fitzgerald paints a vivid portrayal of the small-town setting and the people who live there. You can see where the hub of the community is and how important it is to the locals. Her writing style pulls you into the story. Helen writes dark humour really well, and as I was reading, I did find myself smiling and sometimes laughing out loud. This is what makes her writing really unique, and it’s what I thought when I read her previous book, Worst Case Scenario, which is equally brilliant.
I flew through the final pages of the book as Helen takes us right back to the beginning again when the residents of the town are trying to protect themselves from the raging fire. As the event unfolded on the page, there were some parts to the finale which had me gripping tightly to my kindle as I waited to see what would happen.
Ash Mountain is a breath-taking book that will keep you hooked right until the last page. Helen Fitzgerald is such a unique voice in the crime fiction field, and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 14th March 2020
Print length: 210 pages
Ash Mountain is available to buy:
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