Book Reviews

Book Review: White Ash by Charlie Stickney and Conor Hughes

Book Blurb:

The story follows Aleck, the frustrated but charismatic son of a coal miner, who long ago outgrew the bounds of what White Ash had to offer. Spurning a generational calling to work in the mine, Aleck’s been counting down the hours till he can get the hell out of town and head off to college.

But an accident at the coal mine stalls his exit, setting him down a life-altering path.

One that brings him into the orbit of the enigmatic Lillian Alden. There’s a natural chemistry between the two… some would even call it HOT. But not as hot as Thane Alden’s burning rage would be if he found out Aleck was spending time with his daughter. And Thane is only one of the many dangers that Aleck’s forbidden flirtation has brought. For Lillian has her own secret agenda… an agenda that may get Aleck killed.

Along his dangerous path, Aleck uncovers a secret about his family that changes everything he knows about himself, the people around him, and the town of White Ash.

Published by Charlie Stickney and Conor Hughes

My Review:

Let me start off by warning you that I might be a bit biased. I’ve met Charlie and Conor at San Diego Comic Con a few times. The first time, I picked up the first chapter of White Ash. And I read it…re-read it…read it again…refused to loan it out after I hyped it up…went back for another read through…and then finally, an entire year later, I hunted them down at the next SDCC to gush over the first chapter and have them sign the hardcover edition I bought.

They’re fantastic guys, fun to talk with, creative, and passionate about this project.

And it shows. White Ash hits all the right notes but the two that stuck out to me the most were the art and the characters.

The art is stunning, with a style that just made my little nerd heart pitter-patter all aflutter. The care and devotion given to each panel shone through. I mean, just look at it:

As a girl who can barely draw stick figures, I was in awe at the artistry on display. Seriously. Scroll up and look at those panels again. Gorgeous…just…dang.

The characters made the story compelling. I appreciated how nuanced and round each character felt, even the ones with little, er, “page time.” There are biases, prejudices, fears, regrets, and hopes within each character–and given how little space the medium has to work with, each uttered phrase, pose, or action is needed to convey that characterization. And it happens beautifully, the art and dialogue working in tandem to bring these characters to life. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t go into great detail, but I feel as if these characters were just the type I’d find in a small town filled to the brim with secrets.

I’m giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars, just because a few pieces of dialogue felt muddled when I read them so I had to go back and re-read to make sure I understood precisely what was being said. But I recommend the crap out of this book. I can’t wait for the next installment to come out–you better believe I’ll be lining up on Kickstarter with the rest of the world if they do another campaign.

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