Tangled Ashes is an interesting story. Two parallel threads of tale are told: the main action, about a modern-day architect restoring a French castle, and the ‘back story’ of two girls in German-occupied France during WWII.  It’s clear the two stories will eventually weave together, but it’s a ponderous slog to that point, and even then the connection is rather disappointing. Worse, the WWII story is meandering, with no goal introduced until what ought to be the third act.

Still, the story does have its strong points. The characterization is better than I expected, with an intriguing tension between the two main characters. The main character, Beck, is–shall we say–a struggling alcoholic, and his struggle manages to come off as realistic, without seeming melodramatic. The setting feels very authentic and concrete; I read in the afterword that the author actually attended school in the castle in which she sets her story, and that familiarity comes across strongly.

Notice I didn’t say much about the plot. This is because, unfortunately, there isn’t much of  one. Ostensibly, Beck’s goal is to finish his renovation project within  his employer’s time frame, but relatively little of the story is devoted to this task. Still, especially taking into consideration this lack, it’s a good read. It’s not riveting, but I enjoyed the time I spent reading it, and wouldn’t mind peeking at a sequel.

I received a free review copy from the publisher, and am not obligated to present a positive review.

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