Author: J. Elle
Rue has no memory of how she ended up locked in a basement prison without her magic or her allies. But she’s a girl from the East Row. And girls from the East Row don’t give up. Girls from the East Row pick themselves back up when they fall. Girls from the East Row break themselves out.
But reuniting with her friends is only half the battle. When she finds them again, Rue makes a vow: she will find a way to return the magic that the Chancellor has stolen from her father’s people. Yet even on Yiyo Peak, Rue is a misfit—with half a foot back in Houston and half a heart that is human as well as god, she’s not sure she’s the right person to lead the fight to reclaim a glorious past.
When a betrayal sends her into a tailspin, Rue must decide who to trust and how to be the leader that her people deserve…because if she doesn’t, it isn’t just Yiyo that will be destroyed—it will be Rue herself.
Ashes of Gold is the thrilling conclusion to the Wings of Ebony duology! Not only does this story give a nice wrap-up to Rue’s character, but those who are curious about the romance will find out her final choice. Jhamal and Julius are both great love interests where I could see some readers supporting each other. While I had one that I slightly preferred over the other, I was okay if she ended up with either or even neither. Both interests worked well together with her character growth and I love how her strength was the shining star in the story. Rue is a black teenager, who is half-god and half-human who is from East Row in Texas and went to live in the isolated magic-filled island of Ghizon after her mother was killed in the previous story. Rue continued to be a great protagonist and I was thrilled to continue to read her journey. As this story continues where Wings of Ebony leaves off, it is best to read the stories in order to avoid any potential spoilers.
Rue is regrouping to fight the Chancellor of Ghizon, where she may feel like a failure after an initial loss, but there is still lingering hope. As the only one with the residual magic of the ancestors, there are times when she feels like she is alone in this fight. Throughout her journey, there are those that come to her aid where they can fight the oppression together and rise up for a brighter future. Along this quest, there are some familiar secondary characters that return and some new characters that are introduced. With the new and familiar characters working together, there is a shift in the dynamic compared to the first installment. With many secrets and twists and turns, the reader follows along with Rue as she tries to differentiate the lies from the truth and figure out who she can trust.
Overall, I love Rue’s journey in this duology. She makes great progress in the first novel, backtracks slightly at the beginning of this story based on some circumstances, and then grows even more by the time this story ends. I enjoyed that her growth was not linear and there was more back and forth, which gave it a more realistic feel for her character. The realism integrated into the fiction was well done for multiple aspects of the story, including cultures and the issues of poverty and racism. Rue was the perfect protagonist to lead this story as she made mistakes while trying to make good decisions for those around her. This novel did a great job at expanding on the story introduced in the first installment and everything was wrapped up nicely. This duology definitely makes me interested to read more from this author and I cannot wait to try more in the future!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**