So You Read SHADOWS A Year Ago

Need a quickie refresher before MONSTERS hits the shelves?  Then look no further.  Below you’ll find an ASHES TRILOGY full character list and super-dooper condensed version of who’s doing what at the end of SHADOWS.


ASHES TRILOGY Cast of Characters

Alex Adair: living with her aunt in Illinois after her mom, an ER doc, and dad, a cop, died in a helicopter crash three years ago. Suckier still, Alex carries a monster in her head: an inoperable brain tumor that’s stolen her sense of smell and many of her memories, especially those of her parents. After two years of failed chemotherapy, radiation, and experimental regimens, Alex has decided to call the shots for a change. As the novel opens, Alex has run off on what might well be a one-way backpacking trek through the Waucamaw Wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She intends to honor her parents’ last wishes and scatter their ashes from Mirror Point on Lake Superior. As it happens, she’s also got her dad’s service Glock, just in case she opts out of a return. After the Zap, Alex gets her sense of smell back in spades, a super-sense that also allows her to intuit emotions and, on one occasion, catch a glimmer of what goes on inside the mind of a wolf. Which is pretty funky. Much more to the point, like the dogs, she is able to detect the bloated roadkill stink of the Changed. Oh, and all of a sudden, every dog is her new best friend.

Ellie Cranford: sullen, uncooperative, a trifle whiny, a kid Alex has to keep herself from slapping silly. What can you say? The kid’s eight. Her dad’s KIA in Iraq, her mother split years back, and Ellie’s now being cared for by her grandfather, Jack, who might have the patience of a saint, but cut the kid a break. She hates camping, and it’s not like she hasn’t got good reason to be a little pissy anyway. Initially rescued by Alex and then Tom, Ellie is kidnapped by some very nasty adults who see her as a meal ticket.

Mina: Ellie’s dog, a Belgian Malinois, and formerly her dad’s MWD (military working dog). Mina also has the patience of a saint but packs a mean bite. The nasty adults take her, too.

Tom Eden: a young soldier and explosive ordinance specialist on leave from Afghanistan; a competent guy who complements Alex in a lot of ways. After Alex fends off a pack of wild dogs, Tom saves both Ellie and Alex by shooting his buddy, Jim, who’s gone through a major lifestyle change. Steady and calm, someone to whom Alex is instantly attracted, Tom also has a few secrets of his own. The biggest is just why he’s in the Waucamaw to begin with. After they leave the (relative) safety of the Waucamaw—we’re talking wild dogs, booby traps, and kids who’ve suddenly decided that people make excellent Happy Meals—Tom is shot while trying to prevent the nasty adults from stealing Ellie.

Chris Prentiss: the grandson of Reverend Yeager and Rule’s de facto second-in-command, though he grew up in another town. Dark and reserved, a bit of a brooder, Chris has an uncanny ability to find Spared, especially up north around Oren and its nearby Amish community. He falls for Alex in a big way after she comes to Rule. Despite her initial determination to escape, Alex eventually reciprocates his affection.

Peter Ernst: Rule’s overall commander, although he takes his marching orders from the Council of Five, representatives from Rule’s founding families who run the village. At twenty-four, Peter is the oldest Spared, and he’s fiercely protective of Chris. Peter has a thing going with Sarah, one of Alex’s housemates.

Sarah, Tori, and Lena: Alex’s housemates; all refugees to whom Rule offered sanctuary. Of the three, Sarah’s a tad bossy. Good-natured Tori alternately crushes on Greg (another Spared who is part of Chris’s squad) and Chris, and still makes a mean apple crisp. Taciturn, irreverent, and originally from that Amish community near Oren, Lena’s a girl with ’tude. Having manipulated Peter, Lena once tried to escape—only to be caught in the Zone, a no-man’s-land buffer zone through which those who are Banned (i.e., kicked out of Rule for various offenses) must travel in order to leave Rule’s sphere of influence.

Reverend Yeager: a descendant of one of Rule’s five founding families. Filthy rich from having run a very profitable mining company, Yeager heads the Council of Five. (The other Council members are Ernst, Stiemke, Prigge, and Born.) Before the Zap, Yeager was quietly dementing away in the Alzheimer’s wing of Rule’s hospice. After the Zap, however, Yeager was Awakened. Like Alex, he possesses a super-sense and can determine emotions and truthfulness through touch.

Jess: a tough cookie with a penchant for spouting Bible verses. Jess seems to have her own agenda when it comes to who should be making the decisions for Rule. She’s hot for Chris to stand up to his grandfather. For a variety of reasons—all of them very good—Chris is reluctant. Jess also makes no secret of encouraging Chris and Alex to become, well, a little closer.

Matt Kincaid (Doc): scruffy, pragmatic, sharper than a tack, and Rule’s only doctor. He is also an Awakened, though he has no super-sense. He is the only one who knows about Alex’s brain tumor as well as her super-sense of smell. Kincaid has suggested that the monster might be dead, dormant, or busy organizing into something entirely different.

Jed and Grace: an elderly couple from Wisconsin who’ve rescued and nursed Tom back to health.  A vet, Jed suffered brain damage that left him blind in one eye and a tad addled.  After the Zap, his vision returned as a super-sense.  Stricken with Alzheimer’s, Grace Awakened, recovering her extensive nursing knowledge as well as developing an uncanny facility with numbers.

Wolf: the nickname Alex has given to the leader of a band of Changed, who also just happens to be Chris’s identical twin (and of whose existence Chris is unaware).  Although Wolf seems by turns attached and attracted to Alex and protects her from ending up as a Happy Meal for the rest of his crew (Beretta, Acne, Slash, and Spider), Alex can’t decide if Wolf is only saving her for dessert.

Leopard: the leader of a rival group of Changed and Spider’s main squeeze.

Daniel: recruited along with his little brother, Jack, by Mellie.  Daniel leads a doomed raid to rescue Alex.  Spider murders Jack, who ends up as that evening’s main course.

Weller: one of Peter’s men, Weller is really working for Finn (see below).  Why he’s thrown in with the militia leader seems more to do with revenge against Peter for some past, unknown grievance than a beef with Rule.

Elias Finn: Vietnam vet and now leader of a secretive, long-established militia.  Several of his men have infiltrated Rule and captured Peter, but Finn seems more interested in whether the Changed can be tamed and, by subjecting Peter to endless life-or-death bouts, how quickly they can learn. Yet his long-term goals, as well as the reasons for his intense hatred for Rule, are unclear.

Davey: a Changed boy Finn is taming—and training.

Mellie: a grandmotherly sort, who’s gathering up and arming kids to march against Rule.

Luke and Cindi: part of Mellie’s band.  At fourteen, Luke is oldest and very attached to Tom.  The daughter of a child psychiatrist and the band’s lookout, Cindi major crushes on Tom.


Who’s Where and Doing What at the End of SHADOWS:

Alex: is caught in the collapse of the old Rule mine and falling down an escape shaft that is rapidly flooding.

Tom: is heartbroken and blames himself for Alex’s death.  When Luke and Cindi tell him that Mellie and Weller (injured in the mission to destroy the mine) plan to march on Rule soon, Tom admits that he’s afraid to go because his hatred for Chris, whom Weller said was responsible for turning Alex out of Rule, is so black and monstrous, he wants nothing more than to murder the other boy.

Chris: is unconscious, dying, and pinned beneath an iron-spiked tiger-trap outside Oren.

Peter: is still Finn’s prisoner.  Having killed numerous Changed in exchange for food and water—and, ironically, taught Changed like Davey the best way to fight—Peter is now faced with a choice: eat human flesh, or starve.

Lena: is fighting the urge to feed on Chris, whom she no longer truly recognizes.  Startled by the sudden appearance of a dog, she takes off only to find herself surrounded by a band of Changed that’s been shadowing her for days.

Wolf: had disappeared after being shot by Spider.  Just before she’s herded into the mine, however, Alex thinks she catches his scent with her super-sense.

Jess: is badly injured, comatose, and probably still in Rule under Kincaid’s care.

The Body Count: Jed, Grace, Daniel, Jack, Leopard, Beretta, Slash. Spider and Acne were presumably caught in the mine collapse.








74 thoughts on “So You Read SHADOWS A Year Ago”

  1. Yeah that is definitely true. I’m just saying that its great when authors work with the movie crew, to make the books and movies one whole thing, especially such great authors as yourself 😉 And of course, big names are always good, to make the Ashes trilogy movies the best they can be, just as it deserves.

  2. I’ve been reading YA for years and love this trilogy. I think the first book is my favorite, I’m halfway thru Monster now. I’m very interested in why it is that our younger generation LOVE the whole Zombie/loss of the modern world/apochrypha motif(s). We all seem to be fascinated by this idea that we’ll lose our technology and what would that mean? I know that my daughter is also very into the romance side as well. She reads lots of paranormal romance. Great books! WE love your books! We both read them and talk to about them. In fact I just asked her, “Why is Peter eating that foot?!” LOL! LOVE IT!

  3. Thanks, Claudia. As for your question . . . well, I’m not sure their fascination is any more or less than ours was for Robinson Crusoe or Island of the Blue Dolphins. I think that frontier-type and survival narratives always have a lot of appeal, and people historically feel encumbered by technology, whether that’s Victorian or modern.

    As for Peter…because it was there? 😉

  4. Recently, I’ve had an unexplainable fetish for zombie apocalypse books and related genres and I have to say, the Ashes trilogy did not disappoint. No, they were more than that-gripping, to the point where my parents almost thought I had gone missing as I was holed up in the loft for hours reading your first book.
    It has only been three days since I completed Ashes but, already, I am halfway through the third book.
    Wolf definitely has to be my favourite character-not really logical, I know-because, if he was real, he would probably be sucking on my flesh but I think his protective nature towards Alex is sweet.
    And that made me wonder who your favourite character was-as their creator, did you favour one of the characters over another and why?

  5. So glad you’re enjoying yourself! To be honest, I really don’t have a favorite. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but it’s a little bit like asking a mom who’s her favorite kid. I have a lot of intense feelings for every single one of my characters. Having said that, if you are favorably disposed toward Wolf, then my job is done 😉

  6. Hi, I am Mrs. big fan. I really liked your book, “Ashes”. I’d love to read the rest of meaning “Shadows”. Since the origin of the Polish I do not have this predisposition because that is not translated into Polish versions. Will there ever be a chance that I will read Mrs. a book, translated into Polish?

  7. Hi, Oliwia,

    I’m so glad that you like my book. I would have thought that the other volumes would have come out by now. I honestly don’t know when this is going to happen, but I will get in touch with my publisher and ask for you, OK?

    Stay tuned. ☺️

  8. I would be very grateful. I can not wait to find out what further happens in “Shadows” and did not want to spoil your fun by reading the summary. Best regards and I look forward to your next great book and thanks for the quick contact

  9. No worries. I’ve already been in touch with my publisher, and they are going to be checking into it. I will let you know something as soon as I hear.

  10. Hi Ilsa! I’m Itxaso and I’m from Spain. I bought Ashes two weeks ago and I read it in three days! Now I’m reading “Sombras” (spanish version) and I’m loving it so much. I can’t wait for Monsters!!
    One question: when is Monsters going to be released in Spain?

  11. Well, that’s just great! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my books. In terms of MONSTERS, though, I don’t know. You should go on Twitter and ask Nocturna. They also have a Facebook page. When you find out, tell me. ?

  12. Hi Ilsa. I just wanted to ask if we already know something about the Polish edition of Shadows. Greet and wait for a reply.

  13. I really loved the book, it was very descriptive, which made me love it even more! I was wondering which character were the most important? I have a book report to do and I feel there is too many characters to right down. You are an awesome writer and never stop what you are doing!! 🙂

  14. I’m so glad you liked the book (and the series, so far)!

    Here’s what I’d tell you: as a writer, I try very hard not to write throwaway characters. They all serve a purpose. So…you read the book. Who do you think is most important? Your opinion is just as valid as mine, and maybe more so because you bring your own sensibilities into the mix. How you feel is important.


  15. Ok I love your books so much, seriously!! They should really be movies!! I have some questions, what happens in the middle and end, because I have this book review to type and we didn’t have enough time to read our book. So, it would help if you answer quickly! ? In shadows, I have about 350 pages left to read and I have 2 hours to write my paper! Sorry for just giving you lame excuses, but you would be the best to answer!! You are awesome and never stop what you love to do.??

  16. Omg I realized that I sent you some thing before!! I’m so sorry!!!!!!!! My tablet kept on telling me that I couldn’t send it but I guess it did… know I feel so bad!! ? sorry if I’m annoying you though!

  17. Gee, Keren, I’d love to help, but those kinds of questions I really can’t answer for you. If you’ve got a report to write and need to have read the book to do it . . . you need to read the book. I’m sorry that I can’t give you a plot recap.

  18. Is there potential for there to be any short stories in relation to the characters? Not necessarily what happens after the series, but maybe during or beforehand? Because I finished these books within the last six months and I’m completely obsessed with this world and characters.

  19. Well, that’s an interesting idea, Carli. I have considered it, especially a prequel kind of thing. Not Alex so much as maybe Chris or Tom. The problem is that I go into their backstories quite a bit, so I’d have to think what there is new to explore, know what I mean? But great thought.

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Young Adult/Thrillers/F&SF/Romantic Suspense