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Reviewed by Debjani Ghosh for Readers' Favorite
Rancid Mahoney works for Gunther Ostrander, Head Prospector of New Canterton, a mining settlement in what was once, a long time ago before civilization ended, “the heart of American Northwest”. Mahoney’s task is to find the Blackheart Mountain which is the source of “Blackvein”, a miracle mineral rumored to cure even grievous injuries to the human body. Mahoney has failed to discover it so far. Until now. Before he sets out on yet another expedition, Ostrander asks Mahoney for a favor: hand over the prisoner Til Drange to the settlement of Vermouth so that Mayor Kenroy can punish Drange for killing his brother. Along the way, they encounter scouts of the Tuskatawa tribe who believe it is now time for them to take back the land of their native ancestors. Add Mancino Rolandraz, the leader of the savage Crimson Collars gang, who wants Drange dead at any cost to the mix, and Mahoney has a powder keg in his hand. He soon realizes it is going to blow up no matter which side he takes. What he must decide is which side to fight for to make it worthwhile. Read Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain by Dave Matthes to find out.
Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain starts on a gory note, showing Mahoney fending for himself in an unforgiving landscape. The world that Mahoney inhabits is a bleak, god-forsaken place with few pockets of civilization left. Matthes’ raw writing and poetic prose not only brings out the bleakness of this world brilliantly but also effectively conveys the inner monologue of a loner like Mahoney. At one point, Matthes describes the bond between Mahoney and his horse so sweetly, you cannot help but believe he is capable of some good, despite the man himself denying so. The grittiness of the language is nicely offset by the dynamics between the multi-layered, complex characters. Set in a post-apocalyptic world in the far future, the novel brims with action. The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter are beautiful. No matter the stakes, Mahoney always comes out the winner, albeit a thoroughly battered one in some cases. The menacing plot builds to a high-octane climax, and the bittersweet ending provides a satisfying denouement. I recommend this book to fans of post-apocalypse, action, and adventure.