Upon This Pale Hill


Fiction - New Adult
309 Pages
Reviewed on 06/26/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Upon This Pale Hill by Patrick Ashe, Brandon Marcel has just over a year before he graduates. As he struggles to decide on a future that will bring him fulfillment and happiness, he battles against his critical parents and society's expectations for him to conform. Brandon believes his life should have a purpose and he begins his journey to make a difference. However, Brandon struggles to find the path that will bring him the happiness he desperately seeks. His destructive thoughts create an inner turmoil that threatens to sabotage any chance of a peaceful existence. As Brandon leaves college and embarks on several career choices, his idealistic view of the world is shattered. His goal of helping others and creating social equality brings about more confusion and disappointment. When a disturbing event from Brandon's childhood emerges from his subconscious mind, he is forced to deal with the nightmare head-on. Is Brandon strong enough to deal with the truth?

The compelling and enticing narrative of this story draws you into Brandon's world instantly. His morals and goals to make a difference and not settle for conformity are exceptional and I instantly resonated with him. The people he meets along the way all have an effect on his life, whether negative or positive. I thought each character brought something of value to the story and they were all created with great detail. His relationship with Janelle was outstanding; there were some very emotional scenes between these two tortured souls. The exploration into Socialism and Capitalism made some interesting and unbiased arguments too. I loved the elusive beings, Aisling and The Morning Star, and although their presence in the story was minimal, they brought a dark and mysterious angle to the plot. The ending is filled with great tension and distressing scenes as Brandon and Janelle face their past horrors. Upon This Pale Hill by Patrick Ashe is a brilliantly executed coming of age story that will hook you in immediately.

K.C. Finn

Upon This Pale Hill is a work of fiction in the realistic drama and slice of life sub-genres and was penned by author Patrick Ashe. Written in the new adult reading genre, this is the coming of age tale of a young college graduate trying to put the past behind him and move into the real world to make some positive changes. The work contains a few instances of explicit language usage and some sensitive subject matter surrounding abuse, self-harm, and suicide which some readers may find distressing. Our protagonist Brandon masks the traumas of his past with optimism and forward motion, but when he begins to find success in life, those demons return to haunt him more than ever.

Author Patrick Ashe has crafted a masterful novel with layers of multi-genre richness and a whole host of pertinent themes and ideologies which influence the drama and impetus of the plot. It is highly engaging to see the tale of a young Millennial brought about in a very serious fashion that includes the very real socioeconomic and political pressures of the world around us. This is a work which excels at painting a realistic big picture, but also leaving space to home in on deeper psychological details in the protagonist’s journey. There are surreal existential moments that jar the plot in surprising and satisfying ways to enhance the drama and exemplify the deep trauma Brandon is still burdened with. Overall, I’d highly recommend Upon This Pale Hill as an accomplished work of coming of age drama.

Ruffina Oserio

Upon This Pale Hill by Patrick Ashe is a coming-of-age novel that is intelligently plotted and beautifully written. Brandon Marcel is an upcoming college graduate with a dark secret. But he has thought of a way of getting healed: pursue a career in social services. He’s imagined people experiencing worse things, like those who worried more, like those in crime-infested neighborhoods, like those with little food, like the poor in wealth and in spirit. Perhaps, social services will allow him to do some good. He achieves his dream and his career becomes successful, but his desire to help others becomes tainted with corruption. On the pale hill, he is forced to confront the darkness of his past and decide if he can continue on the path of goodness. Does he have enough fight to stick it out for his good cause?

The first thing that caught my interest when I started reading this book is the beauty of Patrick Ashe’s prose. It is crisp and filled with lovely imagery that evokes sounds, feelings, and the sense of touch. I adored images like the clear blue sky, the hum of the year’s remaining crickets, the scent of burning leaves, and many others that make the setting come alive in this thrilling tale. The author does a great job of portraying the social life of the protagonist with friends like the eccentric Germy, the hot Marianne, and his alcoholic father. The sense of pervading darkness accompanies the protagonist and the reader wants to see him experience inner freedom, and this is one of the strong points that move the plot forward and build interest for the reader. I enjoyed the intelligent and skillful use of a stream of consciousness which allows readers to plunge into the mind of the protagonist and to understand the depth of his pain. Upon This Pale Hill features characters that are real and a man’s struggle to be good. It is fast-paced, emotionally rich, and full of entertainment.

Gobi Jane

Upon This Pale Hill by Patrick Ashe is a coming-of-age novel with strong psychological hints. It follows Brandon, a graduate student with big dreams. Brandon wants to make a difference in the world and he believes that a career in social services will give him that opportunity. While he is an idealist, he carries a burden inside him, a secret that he hates. He navigates a world that is filled with friends and people with different ideological and political backgrounds and views. It when his dream becomes a reality that he is put to the test. Compelled to face the evil within him and the corruption of the world around him, Brandon must decide whether to cede to darkness and corruption or embrace the liberating light of truth.

This is a character-driven story that explores the meaning of having dreams and translating those dreams into reality. The characters are fascinating and I enjoyed how the author explores the relationships between the protagonist and his friends, including Germy, whose quirkiness lightens the atmosphere, Janelle who has a unique connection with Brandon, and many others. Themes of reality versus illusion, friendship, politics, social services, and others are skillfully written into the story. The writing is gorgeous and I enjoyed how the author captures the existential realities and the thought processes of the characters. Upon This Pale Hill is well-written for readers who enjoy complex and multi-layered characters. The plot is intelligently done and I loved the deft handling of internal conflict and the process that leads the protagonist to face himself eventually. This is a story that feels real and engaging.

Rabia Tanveer

Upon This Pale Hill by Patrick Ashe is the story of Brandon as he tries to make sense of his life. This is a coming of age story as he is on the brink of adult life and realizes that his idealistic thoughts have no place in the real world. As our story begins, Brandon is about to step into adult life and face the music. He had the idea of being a good person to everyone, to bring about change that will be social reform, however, life had other plans for him. Unable to find a job after graduating, Brandon is forced to live with his parents, to make do with a long-distance relationship that leaves him wanting more, and to come to terms with what has become of his life. It is not easy, but he has no other choice. Will Brandon get a chance to experience the life he always wanted? Or does life have better plans for him?

Upon This Pale Hill by Patrick Ashe is a philosophical yet very inspiring and evocative story. Brandon can be anyone we know and anyone we know, which makes his struggles that much more real to me. For me, Brandon is a relatable character because he is so idealistic and simple in the way he thinks things through. He is not looking for a fancy world, he is hoping for a world that is perfect in every aspect and he is not going to find that. His spiritual journey was believable and exactly what you hope for. There are many magical little nuggets and gems hidden in the story; there are sentences that left me breathless and then there are simple words that define life so well. The descriptions are vivid, Brandon’s journey is almost poetic, and the overall tone of the story is hopeful. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.