A land of dry fear permeates this classic novel written by Carnegie award-winner Ivan Southall. Ash Road transports you to a landscape of disaster where the foolhardy actions of three young boys devastate an entire area in an epic bushfire. Southall’s writing evokes the scene to such detail that you can hear the roar of the fire in a way that television or news reporting would never enable.
In some ways, the sheer magnitude of the disaster outshines the characters themselves or perhaps it’s the reader’s frustration with their inability to take action in the face of catastrophe. The exception to this is Grandpa Tanner whose level-headedness and self-sacrifice protects his youngest wards Julie and baby Robertson whilst the rest of the inhabitants of Ash Road run about like headless chickens. Yet it is the children that have centre stage in this novel as their parents rush to fight the fire and protect those running from it unbeknownst that the fire (and those that started it) is right at their back door.
A great read, a classic text and a real eye-opener to the power of fire and human nature.