Book Reviews

Night of Ash: A Tale of Odriel’s Heirs

The night buries all shadows… After healing from the last battle with Idriel’s Children, the young Shadow Heir, Aza Thane, once again finds herself at a magus’s door looking for answers. There, she and her companions learn of a dark plot to raise an ancient demon necromancer in the corpse of a soul-eating monster and rush to the once great city of Austerden to stop it. Racing toward a city on the brink of massacre and still haunted by her past mistakes, Aza will have to learn to trust again if she wants to save anyone at all… including herself.

In the second novella set within the Odriel’s Heirs series, author Hayley Reese Chow has given herself the unenviable task of creating a follow-up to the darkly epic Idriel’s Children (click here to read my review), while setting the scene for the upcoming third novel in the series, Time’s Orphan, a story, in which I imagine (at the time of writing, I haven’t yet read it—it’s the next thing on my to do list after writing this review) will see another generation jump, focusing on the relatively little explored Time Heirs (you can expect that review in a couple of days). To make this more difficult, instead of being a full-length novel, Chow has opted to do this in the form of a novella.

Once again, the author has presented a thoroughly entertaining and engaging young adult story set in Okarria, the wonderful setting of the series. While this novella doesn’t hit it right out of the park like Idriel’s Children or the previous novella, Burning Shadows (I have a review right here), Night of Ash remains a great addition to the story started in the original Odriel’s Heirs (and because I’ll never pass up the opportunity to provide a link to an earlier review, you can click this one). Like the previous books in the series, Night of Ash manages to move the story forward, while managing to tell a story that stands on its own merits. At this point, four books deep into the series, this is an amazing feat. It rewards readers who have been reading since Odriel’s Heirs, and won’t confuse readers for whom this is their first trip to Okarria.

To be certain, however, if you read this ahead of time, it will spoil the outcomes of the previous novels, but never to a degree that it would ruin the journey, and much like Burning Shadows before it, Night of Ash works as a bite-sized introduction to the world that will whet your appetite. At 67 pages in paperback, it’s slightly longer than the previous novella (though the 96 pages Kindle estimates is far longer, but that’s an exaggeration), and doesn’t afford the same amount of space as a novel. Perhaps it’s for this reason that the first act is particularly heavy on dialogue, robbing the reader of the prose the author writes so beautifully. Much of this early dialogue comes across as shorthand, getting the reader up to speed with the events chronicled in Idriel’s Children. Once again, the novella opens with a refresher about the events from the previous novel, a great touch that would be appreciated by anybody who didn’t immediately follow it up with the novella.

Later in the book, when Chow’s prose has the space to shine, it shines incredibly beautifully. Throughout Night of Ash, she chooses the perfect words and strings them together to present the story poetically, while still being easy enough for the younger readers to follow along without much trouble. Idriel’s Children is a darker book that Odriel’s Heirs, and this novella is darker than Burning Shadows. This includes gorier descriptions than the previous books, so if you’re looking at it for a particularly young or sensitive reader, you may want to make note of it. For those who can handle it, however, these passages are some of the book’s most amazing.

The darker undercurrent of the story permeates throughout Night of Ash. The story revolves around a plot to resurrect the demonic Idriel, which poses a dire threat to the characters and world. Through this, protagonist Aza must reckon with the decisions she made in the previous book. While these notes don’t hit quite as hard as they did in Idriel’s Children, that’s more of a virtue about their strength in that book than a negative about this one. Another interesting facet is added into the book, with Aza being two years older than when she started the previous adventure, her mind turns to having children, and the ramifications of this, given previous events that I won’t spoil here.

As with the previous books in the Odriel’s Heirs series, the characterisation throughout is on point. As the protagonist and point of view character, Aza is a nuanced and textured hero. Where Kaia before her showed tremendous growth into a confident hero, events have led to Aza harbouring more self-doubt at this stage in her life, despite her accomplishments. She is a character you can’t help but feel for, and of the two protagonists we’ve seen so far, this book cemented her as my favourite. I’m curious to see how the protagonist in Time’s Orphan fares.

In supporting roles are Aza’s brother, Zephyr, the cursed Makeo, and Shad, the talking cat, a favourite of mine through the entire series. These characters all entertain, serving the story and protagonist well. These two characters in particular, but all the characters we see in the story, bounce off those around them well, ensuring they’re fun to follow.

With each passing book, Okarria itself becomes a more nuanced character. Once again, the author deepens the world with new aspects and areas. I don’t know if she has more stories set in the world after Time’s Orphan, but if she does, even in moving past the Heirs after dedicating a novel to each, it would be a great thing. This is a beautiful world, lush in its fantastical elements.

Despite Night of Ash not resonating with me as strongly as some of the other books in the Odriel’s Heirs series, it is still a great book. If you’re a fan of the world and its characters, it marks a thoroughly entertaining return. And if you haven’t yet been converted, it could very well have you committing to the rest of the series.

Favourite Passage

The reek of death saturated the air, so thick Aza could taste the rot on her tongue. The sinewy, human-like form of the Dolobra was there on the dais, with a collar of stitches connecting its head to its huge, crumpled white body. Its spiked limbs jerked on the floor while dozens of corpses lay in a ring around it. Men, women, and children, all laid head-to-foot in concentric circles around the soul-eater’s body, blood seeping out from the centre.

Night of Ash: A Tale of Odriel’s Heirs, Chapter Five: “Old Enemies”

Night of Ash: A Tale of Odriel’s Heirs was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

Night of Ash is available in paperback and on Kindle, exclusive to Amazon).

You can follow Hayley Reese Chow online, via:

Note: I do not post scores on reviews on this website, but do post them on my Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

Interested in purchasing Night of Ash?

Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.

Night of Ash: A Tale of Odriel’s Heirs

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