BOOK REVIEW: RIVER OF ASHES (saint beNEDICT) by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor

Beau Deveraux is the town’s golden boy. Handsome, athletic, captain of the school football team, and the son of the area’s largest employer, Beau, on the outside, seems to have it made. But on the inside, there is a dark core, the cause of which is not fully revealed. Since he was a child, he has had the urge to hurt and now, as a teenager, the object of his obsession with pain has turned from small animals to teenage girls. His girlfriend of the moment is Dawn Moore, twin sister of the girl he really desires, Leslie. But Leslie wants nothing to do with him. She has her own boyfriend, Derek Foster, who hails from the wrong side of the tracks, adding to the teenage angst in this novel.

The teens in this town party down by a river, the site of an old abandoned Abbey, which is rumored to be haunted by a mysterious lady in white who commands a pack of wild dogs. Beau, unmindful of this legend, uses one of the former monk’s cells to entertain girls – it’s a private place where he can indulge his psychopathic need to rape and hurt. But the girls he violates can’t satisfy his unwavering in obsession for the elusive Leslie.

I really liked this Southern Gothic novel until I got about half-way through. At that point, it began to become rather tedious, repetitive, and less believable. I didn’t quite understand the character of Dawn, who throughout the first half, shows distain for her twin, Leslie, and unwavering devotion to Beau. Her turn-around seemed a little contrived and happened too fast for this reader. In addition, the ending of the book left me confused. It didn’t make sense given what had happened before. However, I will note that this is the first book in a series, so, perhaps, what happened will be explained more fully in the next volume.

WARNING: For those who have suffered sexual violence or abuse, this book contains graphic scenes of rape that may serve as triggers.

I want to thank the publisher, Vesuvian Books, for a free copy of this novel in consideration of a Bram Stoker Award.