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The Book of Ash

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  35 ratings  ·  14 reviews
A satire of feel-good therapy set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where the peddlers of self-esteem often mask raging insecurities and homicidal urges. What more could you ask for?

Struggling to survive amidst the chaos is Baldwin Wallace, a 33-year-old miracle counselor whose marriage is crumbling under the weight of his wife's infidelity. When Baldwin finally decides to co
Paperback, 228 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Boxfire Press
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Tim Bridwell
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The dystopian vision of John McCaffrey’s The Book of Ash (Boxfire Press, 2013) menaces well, without the need of a single surveillance camera, patrol robot or jackbooted thug: a mere “Encouragement” suffices. Paralleling our own society’s obsession with “self-help” movements- those coercing us to be the best we can be- the author spins a striking allegory, full of humor and humanism, relentlessly pondering the feasibility of true love.
The protagonist, Baldwin Wallace, works as a “miracle counse
Jessica Powell
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dystopian fantasy is not my usual fare, but I found this good fun in spite of that! Ash, the everyman, is struggling to process the fact he's fallen in love all over again - but to win her hand he has to pay a high price, all against the backdrop of the knowledge that his wife has pledged to kill him on the Day of No Consequence in order to be with his stepfather... Fast paced, fun, and the world McCaffrey has created is rich with detail.

* I won my copy via a Goodreads giveaway.
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Welcome to a strange new world, filled with interesting characters. Spend some time with a man, as he approaches the "Day of No Consequence". This is a day you can act out all your aggressions with no reprisals. This bizarre story is quite entertaining and a bit disturbing at times. That said, it's a very interesting read! ...more
Burt Weissbourd
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
John McCaffrey has written a fascinating and wildly imaginative novel. It's a very well-crafted jewel. Every word is carefully chosen. Every name, every saying in The Book of Ash, every unexpected twist and turn, and even the chapter titles contribute to the fantastic world that he so deliberately creates. Read this book. John is a writer to know and to follow. ...more
Jennifer Davy
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic! I won it in a giveaway and I'm so glad I did because I'm not sure it would have even occurred to me to read it otherwise! It's something I'm very interested in but not something I normally would read, however, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found the story very funny in parts and wonderfully entertaining. It is set in a post apocalyptic, dystopian world. The story is written in a satirical way and I loved the fact that the characters wear such crazy clothes such as men wear l ...more
Erik Raschke
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
John MacCaffrey’s The Book of Ash is an original and quirky narrative through a neurotic and nervous dystopia. Resembling Woody Allen and 1984’s Winston Smith, Baldwin Wallace decides to change his life and fumbles through the consequences. While his world feels only inches away from ours, and therein lays the discomfort, it is the mundane, the conversations, debates, and discussions which make this novel feel so different. The evil here isn’t in some omnipresent government or overlord, but in t ...more
Jason Kurtz
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Ash is a farcical twist on Orwell's 1984. In this book, Baldwin, our timid protagonist, lives in a future society run by a tyrannical Circle, who seem to see themselves as enlightened psychologists. They "encourage" people to be grateful to each other, to act opposite their true feelings, and generally repress their desires until, one day a year, there is a day of no consequence where people can vent whatever has been pent up. Baldwin works hard to be amiable and inoffensive. Unfortu ...more
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It combines several characteristics that embody "the human condition" and skillfully describes how these characteristics play out in a far-in-the-future society. The writer does a wonderful job of demonstrating the timelessness of human frailties, failings and virtues, weaving them into a very well written and suspenseful tale of what could be the future of mankind. Kudos to the author,Mr. McCaffrey, and the good-reads program for offering this book as a gift in the first read ...more
Ana on the Shelves
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this book more than I was expecting...
To read this I had to forget about our world ideas, the way we see things, relations, so I could enter this new world, so I could understand The Circle.

This was a great book that will leave you thinking about many things as it will also make you laugh.
And don't be sad that it's only 227 pages... MANY things will happen on those pages. Many, many things!
Rob Schaab
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An unexpected treasure! What a great imagination....The Day of No Consequence, rustballs, chits, utilities....

I would change party allegiances in a second if a presidential candidate would support a Day of No Consequence here for us now- how much fun!

I'm very impressed!
Tom Baker
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is richly funny. Fantasy/science fiction is not a genre that I gravitate toward anymore. I won this book in one of Good Reads give-aways and am fortunate to have read it. It is a far-out farce and I found myself laughing out loud with each page turned. It is also well grounded in truth with the human condition. I loved the rust fields and the rust balls flying helter skelter. The time holes. Just enough hints of a historical devastation that occurred at some time past. The Book of Ash ...more
Grace Pei
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Ash sneaks up on you with its humor. The story is set in an unnamed future, in a recycled world where people follow a set of "encouragements" in order to lead mentally healthy lives. But the catch is these encouragements do more to make people crazy than sane, at least in my opinion. But the author brings it together in a way that the senseless all makes sense. Very fun and fast read! ...more
Kim hansen
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Mildly amusing could not quite get the story line or where the characters were going.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
While this type of genre isn't my usual fare, I find myself quickly finishing this book and feeling a mixture of emotions.

Maybe that's why I'm only giving this a 3 star rating, because I have no idea how to feel after finishing this book. There was laughter, indifference, disgust, confusion, etc., and maybe that was the author's intentions all along.

[Disclaimer: Copy received from Giveaway.]
John McCaffrey
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Darkly Satirical 1 8 Sep 16, 2013 11:37AM  
Originally from Rochester, New York, John McCaffrey is a graduate of Villanova University. He received his MA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York. He is the author of The Book of Ash, Two Syllable Men, and What's Wrong With This Picture? A creative writing teacher and a professional grant writer, he pens a weekly column for The Good Men Project. ...more

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