Sophie Marco couldn’t bear to leave her dearest and pregnant friend for a summer in the country. She moves in with Nora during the hot months of London in June of 1780.
On June 2nd, a massive protest stormed Parliament with demands against the Catholics.
By June 7th, the entire city would be on fire.
–from the description of From the Ashes of June
Sophie tries to navigate this perilous time with a meager staff, a new mother, a one-armed powder monkey, and the mysterious Mr. Nathaniel Woods, who always seems to appear when he’s needed most.
I don’t go out of my way to avoid novellas, but I do tend to be more drawn to longer books. To be honest, the only novellas I’ve ever read were either companion novellas or ones assigned for school. Still, the title of this one caught my eye. And with a gorgeous cover to boot, how could I resist? It seemed like an incredibly interesting read, and I can honestly say that this novella met all the hopes and expectations I had for it.
Obviously, considering the shorter length of a novella, the action picked up immediately in this story. But it didn’t feel forced or unnatural; rather, the brief calm at the start of the book just naturally bled into the conflict. I also loved the way Stone chose to divide this novella into parts based on the passing days; it definitely helped me keep track of the timeline when everything happened so quickly.
As for the plot overall, it was genuinely excellent. The tension just kept rising with each section of the book, and some of the reveals left me reeling in the best way. The storyline had no extraneous fluff written in, which isn’t surprising considering the limited number of pages. That being said, Stone still managed to successfully weave character development and background information into the main plot. The story didn’t lack that aspect, which I appreciated.
In general, Stone did a fantastic job with the characters. I became invested in Sophie and her story almost immediately, and I didn’t lose that connection at any point throughout the book. I loved the other characters, too, though. To be honest, I don’t think there was any character in this book that I didn’t enjoy in some way. Maybe that’s because there weren’t all that many characters, but still; to me, having a cast without even one subpar character is impressive.
And the historical accuracy in this story made me very, very happy! I didn’t know much about the Gordon Riots before reading this, but when I looked them up after I finished, I didn’t find any discontinuities that detracted from how I viewed the book. In fact, I actually found some tidbits that matched up perfectly with minor details from the story; as someone who’s passionate about both research and history, I absolutely loved that!
Stone is clearly an amazing writer who has an appreciation for the history she draws her inspiration from! I greatly enjoyed this story, and highly recommend it. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction is bound to like this one!
And, as a side note, since the ending left things up in the air, I hope there’s a sequel in the works; I’m eager to read more! In the meantime, though, I’m looking forward to finding the time to read Stone’s other book, The House That Death Built.
Find it here!