Title: Damnation Spring
Author: Ash Davidson
Length: 442 pages
Synopsis: For generations, Rich Gundersen’s family has made a living felling giant redwoods on California’s rugged coast. It’s treacherous work, and though his son Chub wants nothing more than to set into his father’s boots, Rich longs for a bigger future for him. Colleen just wants a brother or sister for Chub, but she’s losing hope. There’s so much that she and Rich don’t talk about these days – including her suspicion that there is something very wrong at the heart of the forest in which their community is built. When Rich is offered the opportunity to buy a plot of timber which borders Damnation Grove, he leaps at the chance – without telling Colleen. Soon the Gundersens find themselves on opposite sides of a battle that threatens to rip their town apart. Can’t they find a way to emerge from this together?
This a strange book for me to review as I went through so many stages of what I felt about this book. At times I thought it was average, at times wonderful, then totally captured by the story and then let down.
I’ll start with the positives, the characters in this are quite incredible. From the very first pages they felt so real. I just felt like I knew them, like I was reading about real people. I think the best character in the book was Colleen. I think Ash Davidson really captured what she was going through incredibly well, it was so moving and heartbreaking. Ash Davidson really can write characters.
This book also tackles some hard-hitting points, such as deforestation, the taking of Native American land and the poisonous spray the used to help with the deforestation. It felt like this book was going to make some really powerful points. The first three quarters of the novel felt like a social commentary of the time this book was set and how everyone felt about the changes happening and it was really interesting.
It wasn’t till about 75% into the book that I realised how attached how had become to the story and the characters when Colleen went against the town people to fight against the poison and the story felt tense and taught. I thought the story was going to go down that route but I was wrong. Then when an incident happened with Chub, the son of the two main characters, I found myself quite emotional and then I thought this book was excellent.
However, then after the incident with Chub, another incident with his father happened and it felt like the whole novel changed course. The two shocking incidents almost cancelled each other out and totally lost their impact. It felt the author just went for shock factor. I couldn’t help but feel let down. The more I thought about it the more it just ruined the story for me.
When these incidences happened, everything else got forgotten about. The poisonous spray, the deforestation, the towns people, the Native American protesting deforestation and conflict between them just never got resolved or even mentioned again. It was strange and slightly jarring. It felt like this meticulously detailed novel and the build up was for nothing.
So when I take all this into consideration Damnation Spring can only come out as an average read for me. I think the thing I’ll remember it for is the disappointing ending and such much promise gone to waste.
Thank you to the publishers for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 3rd.
Until the next review