Author: Walker, Angharad
When eleven-year-old Sol arrives at the Ash House, desperate for a cure for his complex pain syndrome, he finds a community of strange children long abandoned by their mysterious Headmaster. Strange things are about to happen at the mysterious Ash House. And the longer Sol spends on the mysterious grounds, the more he begins to forget who he is, the more the other children begin to distrust him, and the worse his pain becomes. But can he hold onto reality long enough to find an escape?
Kirkus Reviews (12/01/20)
School Library Journal (00/03/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/01/2021 None of the children at the Ash House has seen anyone new join their number, which makes the arrival of 11-year-old Sol a particularly exciting event. For Sol—short for Solitude, the name bestowed upon him there—the place is shrouded in mystery, but he has been promised that someone there will be able to cure him of the excruciating pains that frequently shoot through his back. Sol is received by Dom (Freedom), a kind boy who shows Sol the ropes, describes the headmaster (currently away) with adoration, and explains that all the children at the Ash House are named for a Niceness—the positive virtues that guide their conduct. Debut author Walker effectively builds an atmospheric, frightening story, tinged with just enough of the supernatural to make Sol, and so the reader, question his sanity. Aptly promoted as an intersection of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Lord of the Flies, due to its curiosities and the absence of adults, this dread-filled novel is a strong addition to tween horror collections and where Frances Hardinge is popular. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 03/01/2021 Gr 4–6—The Ash House is a place with a strict moral code that expects Nicenesses and shuns Nastiness, and the child residents seem to have deeply internalized these lessons and have no knowledge of the outside world. An orphaned boy, taken from a hospital, is dropped at the gates of Ash House, where he is renamed Solitude (Sol). The Headmaster has been gone for three years, and the strain is showing on the children who are surviving on their own in decrepit conditions while they live in fear of visits from the Doctor. Twists and turns abound as Sol tries to understand what is happening, find relief from his debilitating mysterious physical pain, and figure out how to help his new community. Sol, with his fresh perspective and outsider knowledge, shakes things up. The children must figure things out on their own as all the adults in the book are either threats or unhelpful. A dreamlike, hazy, ominous atmosphere is created with the story and the book design. The house and grounds are ethereal and seem alive with potential healing qualities, shifting locations, and dangers. The narrative effectively alternates point of view between Sol, who is described as having brown skin, and the pale-skinned brunette child who befriends him, Dom (Freedom). VERDICT This creepy story will appeal to readers who are drawn to the unexplained and all things foreboding in its exploration of memory, reality, truth, found family, and survival.—Erin Wyatt, Highland M.S., Libertyville, IL - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.