Read-to-Review: From Ashes Into Light by Gudrun Mouw

24264409From Ashes into Light is a transpersonal tale of epic tragedy, spirituality, family, and personal redemption. It is told through three distinct voices: the hauntingly tragic story of Ruth, a Jewish adolescent during Kristallnacht in Austria, Saqapaya, a stalwart Native American from coastal California during the time of the Spanish conquest, and Friede Mai.

Friede is born during World War II to a Bavarian soldier and a East-Prussian mother. As those around her struggle with the inevitable chaos and paradox of war, Friede opens her heart to gruesome enemies, at times saving herself and family members from atrocities.

With war behind them, the Mai family immigrates to the US, where Friede, her veteran father and ex-refugee mother, struggle with the reverberations of trauma. Friede is unable to find inner freedom until she meets her spiritual guide, a Rabbi, who helps her see that the voices from the past are teachers and the horrors of history are also beacons of light.

The three electric characters weave a narrative of raw consciousness, a moving example of transforming the ripple of suffering through the incredible strength of vulnerability. (From: Goodreads)

**I received an e-book copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Will something wonderful come out of our suffering, or will our suffering become the suffering of others? Outside leaves shaped like hands drop all over the garden, red, yellow and brown.

This book is obviously a historical fiction and aside from the setting of World War II, the main concepts and the way the author portrayed the characters are quite abstract. To put it differently, there are 3 characters from various parts of the world at that time, with Ruth, a Jew from Austria, talking about her experience in Germany under the Nazis’ control; Saqapaya, a Native American living in the Spanish conquest period, and Elfriede, a girl born in the time of war and tried to distinguish the friends and foes in her early age. Their suffering and what they’ve experienced, either forced or willingly accepted, is pretty relatable while reading the author’s magical descriptions. Moreover, I personally like the usage of transcendence in the entire story, which means you’ll see that some of the characters will suddenly see their future or travel to another time/space far beyond their present state of consciousness. I initially thought such writing skill would confuse me but much to my surprise, I could easily invest in their other mindset, or the so-called “spirits.”

She hardly needs nourishment in a place beyond hunger and fear, where her spirit enters another world, a translucent world of secret sustenance, where those who have been before continue to speak.

The author’s words are incredibly beautiful and heartfelt for me, particularly when she depicts the deepest, honest thoughts from specific characters. She masters the personification of both animated objects and pure essence when putting the real emotion in characters and thus successfully brings life to them.

I am Tadpole eaten by Raccoon. I am Fly inside the frog. I am Coyote, lapping a long thirsty drink along his favorite creek. I howl at the moon. I am things, and I am also the space around things.


Oddly speaking, I normally wouldn’t read anything historical, but this one definitely intrigued me deeply. Therefore, I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction combined with sci-fi elements and a slight moment of creativity. In my opinion, it’s worth giving a shot for everyone. 🙂

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