Genre: Drama/Coming of Age
Rating: 4 and a half stars
The search for truth and identity are touchstones of Kári Gíslason’s writing. It can make for beautiful, and emotional, reading, as in his debut novel, The Ash Burner. This isn’t the novel to turn to on bad days in the search of a fairy tale resolution, or even clearly defined morality. Gíslason shows all of his characters as flawed and fractured by their lives, rather than creating heroes and villains. There’s a quiet beauty to the ability to see the good and the bad in each character, and it makes each more relatable.
Ted is a young man struggling to find his place in the world. Raised by his father half a world away from his birth place, and the memory of his lost mother, Ted understands his father best through the records he plays nightly.
The Ash Burner is a story about intense friendships, and the expectations that go along with sharing your world so completely; about love at its best and its worst. The constant tension between the poetic voice Gíslason favours, and the realism of the world he has created, is impressive. If you’re a fan of poetic voice, Gíslason certainly won’t disappoint. The prose is rich and indulgent; a dessert to be savoured rather than a quick read.
The Ash Burner is available in bookstores, or online through iTunes and Amazon.
Review by Kylie Thompson