Review: The Realm of Ash and Sorrow by Kenneth W. Harmon

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

When bombardier Micah Lund dies on a mission over Hiroshima, his spirit remains trapped in the land of his enemies. Dazed, he follows Kiyomi Oshiro, a war widow struggling to care for her young daughter, Ai. Food is scarce, work at the factory is brutal, and her in-laws treat her like a servant. Watching Kiyomi and Ai together, Micah reconsiders his intolerance for the people he’d called the enemy. As his concern for the mother and daughter grows, so does his guilt for his part in their suffering.Micah finds a new reality when Kiyomi and Ai dream—one which allows him to interact with them. While his feelings for Kiyomi deepen, imminent destruction looms. Hiroshima is about to be bombed, and Micah must warn Kiyomi and her daughter. In a place where dreams are real, Micah races against time to save the ones he loves the most.In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow is a tale about love in its most extraordinary forms—forgiveness, sacrifice, and perseverance against impossible odds.

Bookbub | Goodreads

Guest Reviewer Frannie’s Thoughts:

When an American fighter bombardier falls to his death behind enemy lines and into the love of his life, there is bound to be a great deal of turmoil and drama.  Lieutenant Micah Lund from Bellingham, Washington is flying over Hiroshima in 1945 during WWII dropping leaflets that communicate to the people that they must evacuate immediately.  Micah’s B29 plane is shot down by the Japanese and he falls to his death.  A young 28-year-old, single mother and war widow, Kiyomi Oshiro, witnesses his demise and prays for his soul.  This tragic story about two people who initially start out as enemies takes a turn and becomes a love story that explores the possibility of the impossible.  These two people from vastly different cultures will need to overcome their differences and learn to respect one another during an anguishing time of war and hatred. 

The writing is eloquent, lyrical and has insightful narratives.  It sweeps you away by the visual descriptions of the landscapes, dancing with fireflies and swimming with talking fish in the moonlight.  The historical detail is impeccable enabling the author to both mesmerize and terrify the reader at the same time.  The persuasive prose is laced with many Japanese words providing an authentic and respectful view of the daily living conditions of a middle-class Japanese family. The plot encompasses Buddhist beliefs, Japanese culture, mythology and the supernatural.    

The characters are distinctive, vulnerable, strong, and prideful.  Their hope and determination despite their despair and anguish craft them into real and believable people.  The fight and anguish are relieved by bouts of joy and humor.  Each person is well described both physically and emotionally.  You feel the pain and the euphoria that Micah, Kiyomi and her young daughter Ai feel throughout the story. There is magical realism in this profound love story which is beautiful and uplifting; however, the poignant description of the first Atomic bomb, its impact and the aftermath are equally as disturbing.  It is an extraordinary story of forgiveness, sacrifice, and perseverance against impossible odds. 

It is an engrossing story that combines feelings that are terrifying, whimsical, and humorous. The words craft vivid images.  It is professionally researched and beautifully written.  The Realm of Ash and Sorrow has something for everybody.     


About the Author:  Kenneth Harmon lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife and daughters.  He is an award-winning author of four novels.  Kenneth is a member of the Novel Society, Japan-America Society of Colorado, and the Historical Writers of America

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