Helen's Reviews > Dead Remnants

Dead Remnants by Armarna Forbes
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it was amazing
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A page-turning novel that looks at big questions through the unexpected coming-of-age (after death) of its protagonist, the determined and likeable Ashen. Named in an affectionate nod to The Evil Dead, Ashen wakes in a Denver morgue (a room she shares with a corpse pleasingly tagged ‘Romero’), after a horrific bus crash involving her only friend, Jacob, and her patient box-turtle, Langhorne. What follows is definitely not your classic zombie-fest.
As she stumbles from the hospital, Ashen finds herself adopted by the laconic, definitely-not-a-cowboy Macajah (‘Cage’), one of the valiant posse of Warders who soon become the closest friends she’s ever had, alive or dead. She gradually realises there’s a battle raging across the city: the souls of the living are at stake, and the Warders (and others) want her on their side … but all she really wants to do is find Jacob, and then move on. What does a prematurely dead seventeen-year-old do, when she’s pulled in so many directions? Ashen’s response is part of what makes her such an appealing character: we want to know what will happen next, and whether she’ll take matters into her own hands. And we want to know more about this vivid, beautiful afterlife she finds herself in, just as urgently as she does.
The nature of time and existence, and challenges to received assumptions about good, evil and just plain ordinary thread through this intriguing novel, alongside more immediate concerns about fear, choice and hope, as Ashen navigates a glimmering Denver that belongs to all eras, historic buildings fading in and out over the modern city of the lavishly evoked ’80s of her present-day. Questions are asked – and some are answered – but the really big ones remain tantalisingly out of reach, even for the ‘dead remnants’ who roam a Colorado whose buffalo-rich plains flow alongside its now-waterless creeks. They are the ones who chose to stay in the same world as the living instead of moving on – and some of them have been there for a looooong time.
In this stunning debut novel, Coloradan author Armarna Forbes has drawn on the rich, but often questionable, heritage of the American West in a way rarely seen in Fantasy: those trying to hold a balance between the extremes of the terrifying, terrorising ‘Unseen’ and the (self-)righteous ‘Light’ hail from some of the country’s darkest times. And yet a Tsitsistas wise woman, a tomahawk-wielding girl, a murdered scholar and a young soldier returned from a pointless death on Europe’s shores together form a powerful team, and with the inimitable Macajah, they actually stand a chance at keeping the living free, and safe. Until the Unseen and the Light join forces …
Engaging and so well-written it’s hard to believe this is Forbes’ first novel, this is a YA Fantasy that takes the reader on a very different, wholly fascinating, ride. Highly recommend to readers of all ages. I just hope the author writes a sequel (or two) … this world is too good to leave behind just yet.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
August 17, 2019 – Shelved

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