In The Realm Of Ash And Sorrow is set in Hiroshima during World War Two.
Micah, an American airman, drops to his death over the city. His fall is witnessed by single mother Kiyomi, and although Micah dies instantly, his spirit remains and attaches itself to this Japanese mother. He meets other spirits who are trapped, and Micah’s is treated with kindness and generosity; these people are not the enemy that he once hated.
Kiyomi’s young daughter, Ai, astral travels during her sleep where she talks to Micah, making friends with him. Micah is fascinated by all that he learns about the Japanese culture, but it is all about to change because of one final bomb.
A few years ago I read a book about what is was like at ground zero when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, so I was looking forward to reading this book. The author showed his wealth of knowledge about Japan and this era, but at times I thought some of the research was forced into the narrative rather than being woven into it unobtrusively, which is the ideal.
The spiritual aspect was an unusual approach and I thought that the author used it to good effect especially for the parts that took place after the bomb, although sometimes I found the religious themes hard to follow.
Overall, an interesting take on a war time episode and one that fans of this genre may enjoy.
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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.