As both a nurse and a writer, I have always thought the best way to educate is to entertain, and in Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor’s novel, River of Ashes (Aug 2, 2022, Vesuvian Books) they have done just that.
One of Apple’s Most Anticipated Books in Mysteries & Thrillers, River of Ashes is a Southern Gothic psychological thriller that is as unsettling as it is unforgettable. The story centers around the sleepy town of St. Benedict, Louisiana, situated along the Bogue Falaya River. On the weekends, the local high school students hang out at the river by an abandoned abbey. where wild dogs roam the woods along with ghostly sightings of a lady in white that makes your spine tingle.
High school senior and head cheerleader Dawn Moore has a problem. She’s crazy about her star quarterback boyfriend, Beau Devereaux. He’s rich, popular, and the catch of the parish.
Her twin sister, Leslie, however, doesn’t share Dawn’s sentiments. Leslie knows there’s something wrong with Beau and urges her sister to stay away from him. Beau’s parents are aware of his problem and use their money and power to keep their family secret from the residents of St. Benedict. But how long can they hide the monster Beau has become?
This adult thriller is about a psychotic teenager and the terror he brings to the small town his family runs. He intimidates the victims of his heinous crimes into silence. Like most psychopaths, Beau is charming and intelligent, and even though he’s emotionally detached, he knows how to manipulate people into thinking he’s the proverbial golden boy. But the young women hurt by Beau eventually form a bond that leads to a shocking climax and a tour de force of female empowerment.
Highly recommended reading for mature young adults and adults, though the story you find between the pages might be beyond your wildest nightmare.
When asked about the graphic violence in the book, this nurse educator gave a short laugh. “Yeah, even my editor questioned that. Lucas and I don’t approve of violence as a plot device in a story, but if it’s an integral part of showing a character’s descent into depravity, then it’s needed. I had to show the progression as Beau went from bullying others to far worse. Because of his good looks and his family’s influence, he gets away with that behavior, and so the danger increases as his brutality escalates. I don’t think that stories like these cause violence. They depict violence, which causes fear. And, hopefully, fear leads to change.”
She warns that readers should be at least sixteen years old to read this novel. “This is a truthful depiction. Working in an emergency room in a hospital for a few days you see what people do to each other. It changes your perspective on what goes on in the real world.”
River of Ashes was born from a nightmare that Lucas Astor had. After Alexandreateamed up with him on the multi-award-winning Magnus Blackwell Series, their agent felt her experience as a nurse with victims of sexual assault could add to the characters who suffer at the hands of the psychologically twisted Beau Devereaux. Alexandrea’s understanding of mental health issues also brought Beau’s madness to life.
Most recently, Unplugged Book Box—named USA Today’s #1 book subscription box—selected River of Ashes for their debut horror box, Twisted Retreat, and sold out in under 48 hours. Just in time for Halloween.
I look forward to reading the sequel, River of Wrath, which is out January 31, 2023.
Alexandrea Weis grew up in New Orleans as the daughter of a motion picture director who raised her on movie sets, such as James Bond. Tennessee Williams was a family friend and the first person to give her writing advice. Alexandrea is a licensed wildlife rehabber, and she and her husband rescue orphaned and injured animals.
Lucas Astor is an award-winning author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but next door behind a smiling face. Astor currently lives outside of Nashville, TN.
The original cover art is by Mister Sam Shearon, a dark artist from Liverpool, who has provided cover illustrations for the Angel series, 30 Days of Night, The X-Files, and the fully illustrated H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Books of Blood.
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