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In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  78 ratings  ·  44 reviews
When bombardier Micah Lund dies on a mission over Hiroshima, his spirit remains trapped in the land of his enemies. Dazed, he follows Kiyomi Oshiro, a war widow struggling to care for her young daughter, Ai. Food is scarce, work at the factory is brutal, and her in-laws treat her like a servant. Watching Kiyomi and Ai together, Micah reconsiders his intolerance for the peo ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 2nd 2020
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Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kenneth W. Harmon’s historical fiction novel, “In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow” is set in Hiroshima during WWII before and leading up to the deployment of the first atomic bomb. It’s a bittersweet tale of love, loss, and the ultimate sacrifice as unimaginable devastation alters Japan, and the world forever.

The story follows Micah Lund, a bombardier who dies while on a mission over Hiroshima, Kiyomi Oshiro, a war widow, and her young daughter, Ai. In disbelief that he is dead, and in Hiroshima of
Cynthia Hamilton
May 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was swept off my feet by both the story and the author’s writing style in this absorbing tale. It exposed me to an aspect of WWII I knew virtually nothing about. The story is told from a neutral perspective, meaning it is neither pro or against either side in the deadly drama. It follows the two main characters, Kiyomi and Micah, on opposites sides of a war that is hardest on the innocents who are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, while they try to eke out an existence during fierce ...more
H.M. Holten
May 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Poignant WWII Legend
Japan and the Japanese soul play a huge role in In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow, a mix of magical realism and historical fiction. An American Soldier, Micah, on a mission over Hiroshima falls to his death, only seen by a Japanese war widow, Kiyomi. Their eyes meet and his spirit gets imprinted on her – like a newborn bird’s. Let alone that Micah hates the Japanese, let alone that he doesn’t know or want to know their thoughts and culture. He must follow her and learn from her.
I loved reading IN THE REALM OF ASH AND SORROW. This read concerns a love that is beautiful and one that can be destructive. I believe that you should give this a read!
Deeply moving read!

I must say I really had no idea what I was getting into with this story.
I found it stunning, compassionate and yet could hardly read some parts.
An American bomber, dropping propaganda pamphlets warning people to leave Hiroshima was shot down. Bombardier Mica Lund tries to scramble out, his parachute becomes entangled and he dies on impact. All this happens just as a war widow Kiyomi Oshiro is passing nearby. In the moment of his death their eyes lock and they become joined in
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley, dnf
Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Writing a review for a book that I DNF is not my favorite thing to do. I felt myself not wanting to read and I wasn't that involved in the story and the characters. I do believe it's not that bad of a book. That's why I didn't give it 1 star, but 2 stars. I think that this just wasn't my book and I felt that I didn't really mind how the story would continue when I was at 50%. I decided to DNF. When I d
Susan Sage
Apr 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What an unexpected and fascinating find! More often than not, I’m better off knowing little about a book I’ve chosen to read because my expectations are often dashed. What I knew before beginning this one was that it was about an American pilot who crashed his plane on Japanese soil during WWII. I had no idea that it would turn into one of the best works of Magical Realism that I’ve read in quite a while. Those magical elements are evident early on, allowing the reader to suspend disbelief—to bu ...more
Justine (bookshelf_fairy)
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I honestly don’t know where to begin, this book had me feeling so many emotions.
“In the realm of ash and sorrow” by Kenneth W. Harmon is set in Japan during WWII. It all takes place around Hiroshima leading up to the atomic bomb. It is a tale of love, loss and sacrifice.

Micah Lund is a bombardier who has been sent on a mission to fly over Hiroshima. While on his mission his aircraft suddenly goes down. He finds himself stranded in enemy territory and unable to understand or communicate with an
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books, netgalley
In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow is a richly woven tale about Micah, an American bombardier after his death falling from a plane over Hiroshima and Kiyomi, a Japanese woman who witnesses his death. This story tells of Hiroshima in the time directly before and after America drops an atomic bomb on the city. Micah battles with his hatred of Japan after what they did to Pearl Harbour and that his brother has died in the war against them with the tenderness he feels for Kiyomi, her daughter Ai and the ...more
Norm Goldman
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookpleasures
Are you a romantic and believe in ghosts and spirits? If you are, you are going to savor award-winning novelist, Kenneth W. Harmon's In The Realm of Ash and Shadow. Incidentally, did you know, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1000 people, about 45% believe that ghosts or spirits of the dead can come back in certain places and situations.

Harmon spins quite a yarn drawing on World War II and the bombing of Japan. An American bombardier, Michah Lund, in 1945, flies over Hiroshima in his B-29
Jean Roberts
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow by Kenneth W. Harmon
Published: 1 August 2020
Publisher: Eiledon Press
Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism
Available: ebook, paperback
Pages: 352

Sex: 💗 None
Violence:😧well there is the atomic bomb, but no much otherwise

Reviewers Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book can be pre-ordered now on

Author Bio: Kenneth W. Harmon lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife and daughters. T
Patricia Stoltey
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow is a beautifully written tale of WWII and the trauma surrounding the bombing of Hiroshima, but it is so much more than a war story. An American pilot, Micah, dies when his plane crashes near Hiroshima before the main assault. His spirit attaches to the first local resident he encounters, the widow Kiyomi, and connects even more with her young daughter Ai. The lyrical prose, the well-researched cultural information, and the mystical descriptions of Japanese afterlif ...more
Brigitte Dempsey
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Who can resist being moved by a moonlight ride on the back of a talking fish, or a dance with fireflies that so aptly foreshadow the tragedy that is about to unfold in Hiroshima? Kenneth Harmon moves you deeply with his images while walking you through a horrific historical tragedy alongside a brave woman and innocent child. He captures the feelings that give our life meaning while at the same time transcending life. Masterfully done, greatly enjoyed.
Sublime Book Review
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Overall Rating = 4.58

Storyline & Concept = 4.75

Writing & Delivery = 4.5

Editorial = 4.5

Set in Hiroshima, Japan, during World War Two, In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow tells the story of an American bombardier, Micah, who is killed while on a military mission. His spirit remains in Japan and takes an interest in a young Japanese woman and her child, burdening him with guilt as he witnesses the suffering he helped to bring upon the people he used to hate.

This novel is a success on many fronts. The s
Julie Howard
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Micah mans a U.S. bomber flying over Hiroshima in 1945. His plane’s payload is propaganda flyers. His plane is hit by antiaircraft guns and, in short order, Micah is killed (this isn’t a spoiler since it occurs in the first few pages) and becomes a ghost. For the rest of the book, the former American airman roams the land of his sworn enemy and finds himself inexplicably drawn to Kiyomi, a 28-year-old war widow who witnesses his fall from the plane.

Kiyomi is one of millions of Japanese citizens
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Harmon takes readers deep inside WWII Japan through a story that engages with haunting authenticity while also introducing a magical realism that creates an atmosphere unparalleled with anything I’ve ever read before. The writing is eloquent and lyrical and truly keeps you glued to the pages. Harmon fashions a visual landscape through his words that makes the readers a part of the story. I often felt like I was Micah, watching the events unfold before my very eyes, with a desperate angst that th ...more
Brian Kaufman
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel is a marvel. How do you take the story of Hiroshima and craft from it a delicate story of love, sacrifice and perseverance? Start with beautiful prose, an unusual plot, and characters that you can't help but love. Add in the author's knowledge of Japanese lore, and you have a completely original work of art. ...more
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is very good, and quite moving at times. It's very well crafted and is lyrical in places. I guess it's literary fiction, but crosses into other genres. The story is mostly about relationships, and readers may learn a little about Japanese culture as well. I'll probably be thinking about this one for a while. Recommended. 4.5 stars.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
Nina Romano
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from the author for an honest review. I do not usually choose fantasy or magic realism, however, to read this marvelous book is to steep yourself in a wonderfully rendered story, part magic realism narrative, that is a fantastical imagining by author Kenneth W. Harmon. The novel follows vivid, emotionally-charged characters transporting the reader to a unique world—one that inspires as it ignites ... I loved all of the references to Japan and its people--the culture, food, s ...more
Raven の Nest
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've posted my review of In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow on my blog (link here)

I will be really glad if you check it out

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
S.E. Morgan
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was very taken with this novel. It managed to be both horrifying and uplifting. No easy balance. Harmon created an utterly believable world in war-torn Japan and Hiroshima, which was beautiful as well as distressing, His knowledge of Japanese culture and legend to me seemed entirely assured. A very unusual and surprising story, so glad Netgalley gave me the opportunity to read it.
Editorial Reviews

“This is an extraordinarily imaginative and compelling exploration of love, death, race, and patriotism with countless unusual twists to keep the reader guessing. Thorough research and stylish execution make for a striking tour de force.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Harmon skillfully mines the brutality of WWII and the desire for redemption in this ambitious story of tragic characters overcoming hate, cultural differences, and duty. Any reader will be moved by this graceful,
World War II is in full swing and American bombardier, Micah, has just died on a mission over Hiroshima. His spirit remains trapped in this unfamiliar, foreign city and, confused and and not knowing what else to do, he spots a young woman and decides to follow her home. Kiyomi is a war widow - starving, overworked, and being mistreated by her in-laws all while trying to make sure her daughter, Ai, is cared for. Micah begins to meet other friendly, trapped spirits who help him adjust to his new r ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-authors
“It was the same all over Hiroshima. Broken and desperate people struggled to survive while the tragic war raged on.” #intherealmofashandsorrow

At the begging I was very sceptical regards this book. An American author who writes about Americans dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Well, I was very wrong. Author has made an incredible work, and has created an amazing/true atmosphere of those events. I believed him in every word, another example of brilliant historical fiction! Thank you.

Grace J Reviewerlady
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure about this novel when I first looked, but I'm so very glad I went on to read it.

Kiyomi's husband died during the war serving his country; she continues to live with his parents, as custom dictates, and cares for her daughter, works hard in a factory and returns home to be treated as little more than a slave by her mother-in-law. When she passes the dead body of a foreign airman, she is unaware that his spirit follows her. This is the story of what happened next . . .

Anyone who foll
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautifully written books I've read. An adult fairytale. I couldn't put this book down. I loved the story so much that I bought the book and have shared with friends. This story is of courage, redemption, love, forgiveness. ...more
Rosie Amber
3.5 stars

In The Realm Of Ash And Sorrow is set in Hiroshima during World War Two.

Micah, an American airman, drops to his death over the city. His fall is witnessed by single mother Kiyomi, and although Micah dies instantly, his spirit remains and attaches itself to this Japanese mother. He meets other spirits who are trapped, and Micah’s is treated with kindness and generosity; these people are not the enemy that he once hated.

Kiyomi’s young daughter, Ai, astral travels during her sleep where sh
J. Else
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
In the months preceding the atomic bomb, American soldier Micah Lund dies on a mission over Hiroshima. He wakes up in Japan as a spirit, alone and far from home. Feeling drawn to the woman, Kiyomi, who found his body, he follows her through the unfamiliar city.

Kiyomi is a single mother who, with her eight-year-old daughter, lives with her in-laws. They treat Kiyomi as a servant and expect her to remarry a man of their choosing to produce an heir and carry on their family name. Kiyomi has already
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful but sad tale of life and death in Hiroshima😢

How fitting that this book should be published just before another anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

I was truly moved by the first two-thirds of this story of life ravaged and wasted by war. Japanese widow Kiyomi and her loving bond and fierce protectiveness for her young daughter Ai were described beautifully. Joyful Ai was, in fact, my favorite character. The author's detailed descriptions of the hunger and misplaced hope
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Actual rating: 3.5⭐

When I saw this on netgalley, the cover somehow reminded me of Chinese light novels. So while reading the synopsis, I have the notion that it was a fantasy world during a war.

Turns out it's actually historical fiction. The setting was during WWII at Hiroshima. The story mainly revolves around three people. We have Micah, an American soldier who died and his spirit was left wandering the streets of Hiroshima. Then we have Kiyomi and her daughter Ai as they struggle for surviva
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