Valley of Ashes 

Book of the Day

“Valley of Ashes” by Cornelia Read

 When her husband lands a promising job, Madeline Dare trades New York’s gritty streets for the tree-lined avenues of Boulder, Colorado. Now a full-time homemaker and mother to beautiful toddler twin girls, Madeline has achieved everything she thought she always wanted. But with her husband constantly on the road, she’s fighting a losing battle against the Betty Friedan riptide of suburban/maternal exhaustion, angst and sheer loneliness.

A new freelance newspaper gig soon helps her get her mojo back, but Boulder isn’t nearly as tranquil as it seems: there’s a serial arsonist at large in the city. As Madeline closes in on the culprit, the fires turn deadly…and the stakes become tragically personal. She’ll need every ounce of strength and courage she has to keep the flames from reaching her own doorstep-and destroying everything she holds most dear.


I enjoyed this book so much! It wasn’t what I expected at all but I’m glad it wasn’t. I was interested in this story because from the synopsis I thought it was going to be a fast-paced thriller. It wasn’t. It was more of a dark domestic comedy with small thriller attributes. If the synopsis was more true to what the book was actually about I probably would’ve passed it up. I’m so happy I didn’t.

Madeline is such a likeable character. She’s funny and witty with a fiery attitude. She’s also really relatable. I found myself engulfed in her domestic woes. I was actually laughing out loud at the things she said and did in her everyday “Mom” life.

The arsonist aspect is a tad misleading only because it’s not a huge part of the story. Madeline doesn’t begin to report on the fires until you’re already nearing the end of the book. I’m glad it gave Madeline something to do though.

Throughout the book you learn about Madeline and her troubled past. Secrets are kept. Secrets are revealed. I don’t want to reveal the huge secret that has something to do with Madeline only because it’ll ruin the story. The big reveal was a shock to me. I thought I had a certain character figured out but I was slightly off. What I will say is I’m proud of how Madeline approached things.

Overall, “Valley of Ashes” was a pleasant surprise. If you’re looking for an action-packed thriller, this isn’t it. However, you might wind up falling in love with Madeline just like I did.


Have you ever read a book that was totally different than you expected? Was it a good or bad surprise? Have you read any other books by Cornelia? What did you think?


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