After a chain of earthquakes ravaged the globe, long-dormant viruses were released into the air, turning many humans into creatures with an appetite for human ashes. Erica and a group of survivors are barricaded in a half-destroyed hotel, and every day brings them closer to being devoured by the seemingly unstoppable ashers. Even though Erica is a fighter, she's tired of just surviving...
When a mysterious stranger rides into town, everything changes. Jake knows how to kill the ashers, and he's the only man brave enough to leave the safety of the hotel in search of a better life. Erica and Jake make a deadly fighting team, with even hotter sparks flying between them. But Jake has survived this long because he rides alone. He doesn't trust easily, especially in this harsh new reality. Can Erica convince Jake that living is more than just surviving to the next day?
The world has turned itself inside out and with that comes a virus that turns humans to creatures that eat ash. They’ll burn just about anything and eat the ashes but they seem to like human ashes the best. The land has turned into a barren wasteland – a place where there’s very little water and no hope of getting more – especially since it never rains.
In Phoenix Erica is with a group of humans that are holed up in a hotel. Erica longs to head to a place that she sees on the horizon – a place that looks like it actually rains…it looks like clouds hover over it and Erica wants to check it out. But the other survivors don’t want to leave their safe place - even though they have to fight to keep the “Ashers” (as they call them) away on a daily basis as they can’t seem to kill them.
An unexpected visitor shows up at the hotel and actually starts killing the Ashers! How does he do it? He’ll tell them but only for a price. Erica is disgusted that this person, Jake, will only reveal his secret unless he’s paid in goods. He’s looking out for himself but Erica doesn’t see it that way. She wants nothing to do with him but Jake is taken with the spitfire woman. He ends up telling her the secret to killing the Ashers and the pair get closer. When Erica tells Jake of the place in the distance Jake is up for the challenge of getting to it and seeing what it has to offer.
Nico Rosso has built a world here that is desolate and unforgiving. He’s turned the modern world upside down and he did a great job doing it. I was completely sold on what he was selling and got totally immersed in the stark city that was Phoenix. I did wonder after I was done why some humans turned with the virus and others didn’t but I really didn’t wonder when I was reading – it just was.
Erica and Jake’s relationship happens really quickly but it worked. In a place that is violent and demanding and entirely unpredictable how do you find love and draw it out to make sure it’s right? I don’t think you do. You take the bull by the horns and go for it because honestly, you have no idea if you’re going to be a live the next day. Both Erica and Jake knew that they were moving quickly and at first didn’t know if they could trust each other but soon they were of the same mind and working together to make things better – not only for themselves but for others as well.
I have to say that I really love reading battle scenes that Rosso writes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading them in his last book The Limit of Desire and I loved reading them in this one. They’re easy to follow as they just make sense (and frankly not all battle/fighting scenes do to me) and they’re very real to me. I can feel the tension in the characters while their fighting and fell like I’m right there.
This was a quick but very interesting novella that I definitely recommend.
Rating: 4 out of 5