Home > Book, Book Review, Reviews, Short Stories > Book Review – Short Story Anthology: A Land of Ash (edited by David Dalglish)

Book Review – Short Story Anthology: A Land of Ash (edited by David Dalglish)

Book Description:

The Yellowstone Caldera has erupted once every 600,000 years. We’re 40,000 years overdue.

Lava flows stretch for hundreds of miles. A cloud of ash billows east, burying the Midwest, destroying crops, and falling upon the Atlantic Coast like a warm, dead snow. The remnants of the United States flees south as the global temperatures plummet.

Amid this total devastation are stories of families, friends, sons and fathers and wives: the survivors. Within are eleven stories focusing on the human element of such a catastrophe, from an elderly couple gathering to await their death to a father sealing his shelter in hopes of keeping the air breathable for his daughter. Contributing to this collection include many popular and up-and-coming independent authors, including David McAfee, Daniel Arenson, and more.


This self-published short story anthology A Land of Ash (ed by David Dalglish) has a very interesting (if grim) concept – to tell the stories of ordinary people who are caught in the eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera – a natural disaster of such proportions that it kills millions in an instant  and plunges the US (and pretty much the rest of the world) into nuclear winter-like conditions. Here’s the eleven stories included:

  • David Dalglish – One Last Dinner Party, Shelter, Toward the Storm, A Harmless American, Secret Mission and Let It Contine
  • David McAfee – Alone on the Mountain
  • Daniel Arenson – Beach Puppies
  • Michael Crane – Last Words
  • John Fitch V – Refugees
  • Robert J. Duperre – The One That Matters

The anthology follows a sort of arc – the first four short stories focus on the events immediately before and during the disaster,  and feature ordinary people who meet the fire and ash from the eruption with mostly quiet dignity and courage. The next stories focus on the weeks after the eruption, giving us a glimpse of how the survivors are coping (or rather, not coping), and lastly, two stories set months after when there is maybe a glimmer of hope and rescue.

There are a couple of outstanding short stories in the anthology IMO: “Shelter” (a heartbreaking story  of a young father who keeps his  6-year-old daughter as safe as he can for as long as he can with a couple rolls of duct-tape), “A Harmless American” (IMO the best but most horrifying one – this story really hit me hard – about an armed Mexican guarding the Rio Grande border against desperate American refugees and facing a crossroads when he finds a helpless 4-year-old girl), and “Secret Mission” (about a young boy stuck surviving in an increasingly desperate stadium/shelter who finds a momentary escape). “Beach Puppies” (a tale about friends gathered together to meet their end was a bit too short, but features an unexpected twist that had me thinking about what my own choices would have been,very thought provoking). Be warned though, the prevailing atmosphere is almost one of a monotony of depression & hopeless despair, and tragedy still strikes even at the point when rescue seems most imminent.  My main complaint on the collection would be that I didn’t expect the stories to be pretty much ALL disheartening and depressing – surely the contributing authors could have rustled up an inspiring story or two just to give readers a change in pace? Just saying.

If you like to read post-apocalyptic stories, check this anthology out. I for one wasn’t disappointed with my purchase, but like I’ve mentioned, be forewarned that this will not be leaving you with any warm and fuzzy feelings (quite the opposite in fact). Overall, I found the writing for this anthology pretty good and not amateurish at all, especially from the editor David Dalglish (I’ll definitely be checking out his full length books based on this anthology), and it was a good way to meet some indie writers who aren’t familiar to me.

A Land of Ash (edited by David Dalglish) is available on Amazon as a Kindle and Paperback edition.

The eBook is also available at B&N and Kobo Books

For a second opinion – here’s some reviews of A Land of Ash by other bloggers:

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