Ashes of the Sun
(The Gathering of the Sun #1)
by A. Meredith Walters
I was raised to believe in things you can’t see.
It is the foundation of everything. I am taught to accept the unacceptable. To embrace the terrifying.
To give everything to my family.
To my church.
To my god.
Because I have a purpose. I have been trained for my calling for as long as I can remember. As an acolyte for the Gathering of the Sun, I am taught that my life isn’t my own. I worship. I serve. And when the time comes, I will greet my fate with open arms and a sin free heart.
People call us a cult.
We are judged. We are ridiculed and reviled. Pastor Carter tells me they will be lost when the end comes. So we hide ourselves away from their sick and dangerous world. And my soul is safe because I follow the path.
I am the perfect disciple. I am confident in my devotion.
Until doubt arrives wearing the face of a boy I never expected to love.
Bastian doesn’t follow the path. His destiny is his own. He paints me a picture of a beautiful world. His words contradict everything I have been told.
He invites me to live when I have been prepared to die.
He gives me something new to believe in.
Love becomes the ultimate crisis of faith and now I am torn between two futures.
One that saves my soul.
And one that saves my heart.
My ARC Review:
This is not my usual type of read, but was very intrigued by the blurb and couldn’t wait to get started with this one – it turned out to be a very good story, very powerful, the storyline dealing with a lot of very difficult issues.
Sara Bishop has lived at The Retreat since she was 8yrs old, brought by her mother after her father left them. She became an acolyte of The Gathering of the Sun run by Pastor Carter, devoting her life to God and his teachings through the Pastor in preparation for their Awakening. Its not until two brothers, David and Bastian, arrive at the gate of The Retreat, David desperate to get in and walk the Path with the Pastor, as opposed to Bastian who is trying his best to save his brother, that Sara’s view of the world she lives in begins to change.
Brilliantly written, I was engrossed in this harrowing and difficult story. The relationship Sara has with her mother was just awful, it really got under my skin, she is so cold, abusive and nasty to Sara!! The Pastor, oh my goodness me, he set my skin crawling with his holier than thou speeches and sermons, whilst all the while being just as evil as you can be!! The children there and what they had to witness and go through every day just about broke my heart. David with his PTSD and his grim determination to follow the Path set by the Pastor being his only salvation was just grim, I so wanted to help him!
Bastian was the light relief in this story at times, with his determination to show Sara how wrong the world she was living in really was. The game of hide and seek with the children in the forest, such a simple everyday pleasure that we take for granted was the children’s only bit of brief respite from all the rules and praying they had to endure, but their terror when they were found out was just palpable in the pages!!
This was a tense and anxious read, engrossing all the same, all the time I was willing Sara to open her eyes to the evil around her!! I really can’t wait for book 2 to find out how Sara and Bastian get on.