Cover Image: Ashes


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Member Reviews

There’s quite a few WWII books around at the moment, however I would highly recommend this one.

Inspired by true events, this is an incredibly well written account about friendship against all the odds between two girls, during a time so horrific it’s impossible to imagine the atrocities experienced at that time.

Those of you who have read books about WWII don’t need reminding of what is written between these pages, how some people turned into evil human beings throughout this conflict. 

However, de Vinck wants us to remember; friendship conquers all. 

Author’s note

‘It is my ambition that Ashes will capture the hearts and imagination of those who read about Hava Daniels and her friend Simone. 

‘I hope this little book will help us all remember that, among the sorrows of the world, we all can rise up from the ashes and discover, once again, what it means to be people of compassion, dignity, and love.

‘That this book could whisper words of hope in a world that seems, at the moment, so hopeless.’

He most definitely achieved this.


‘Hava, remember the daffodils in the woods when we were running from the Nazis and the planes? Remember, Hava?’ China, Japan, France all bulge with daffodils – the same daffodils. A Chinese daffodil is the same as the daffodil in my little garden. A Jewish daffodil is the same as a Christian daffodil. A Jewish girl is the same as a Christian girl. Different soil; different garden – the same girls.

It doesn’t matter about racial lines, religion, culture, background, wealth etc, whatever happens, nothing can break the bonds of true love and friendship. This follows how resilient they are and how they continue to care for and protect each other no matter how harrowing and terrifying their experiences are.

Fantastic portrayal of the time. Heartfelt, heartbreaking and emotional read.

‘We endure. We bend like the trees in an angry wind. We learn fortitude.’ Amen.

Read the book.

Thank you Harper Inspire, NetGalley and the author for this ARC provided in exchange for my unbiased review.
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I read this book and then my husband read it. We both felt so differently about it. We both loved it but we had different feelings about the main characters. I think it’s a book that gives you a personal journey.
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Ashes by Christopher de Vinck is a novel set in Belgium during World War II. Simone Lyon, the daughter of a major general in the Belgian army, meets Hava Daniels while volunteering with the Red Cross in 1939 and despite their different backgrounds – Hava’s family are Jews from Poland – the two become close friends. In those innocent days at the beginning of the war, the girls believe their country will remain safe and neutral, untouched by the horrors starting to sweep across the rest of Europe. Less than a year later, Brussels is under German occupation and Hava and Simone become caught up in everything they’d hoped to avoid.

I found this a moving portrayal of friendship and loyalty, although I struggled to believe that Simone and Hava were really supposed to be eighteen years old as they felt a lot younger than that to me – in fact, I thought the whole story and the way in which it was written felt more like YA fiction than adult. Not a problem, but not what I’d expected! It was interesting to read about the Holocaust from a Belgian perspective and the quotes from politicians, news articles and Nazi propaganda which begin every chapter help to put everything into historical context, but the story was not quite as harrowing as books on this topic usually are. Maybe that was due to the pacing, as a lot more time is spent on building up Hava and Simone’s friendship than on describing the events that follow the Nazi invasion. Overall, this was a worthwhile read, but just didn’t have the sort of depth I prefer in a novel.
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A emotional story, very moving and life affirming.  This would certainly make a great movie.  Extremely captivating, I could not put this book down. A great historical fictional read.
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I received a copy of the book from Netgalley to review. Thank you for the opportunity.
A fascinating must read. It chronicles the tale of 2 friends in a concentration camp during the WW2. I found it both poignant and heartbreaking. 
A great read.
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Ashes is a WW2 Historical Fiction novel based on true events about two friends Hava and Simone who escape Belgium as the Germans invade.
Hava and Simones friendship is just wonderful. They are best friends, like sisters and stick together for as long as possible until they get separated. 
They are two courageous individuals who experience the stuff of nightmares whilst trying to escape the German invasion. 
This is a great read and for me a slightly different read to the usual WW2 fiction. It was refreshing (if that’s even the right word) to read a WW2 fiction novel that doesn’t focus solely on someone’s experience of Auschwitz. 
Heartwarming and heartbreaking it’s definitely one I would recommend.
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1939, Belgium: An 18 year old Simone, daughter of the General and Hava, a Jewish teen, though coming from different cultures, are now best friends after meeting at The Red Cross as volunteers. 
Soon in the Spring of 1940 Nazi planes and tanks start occupying Brussels and the continuous bombings force the Belgians to escape their country. And just like the others, Simone and Hava, their resilience being tested, are forced to flee. 

The story of their long and eventful journey is told from Simone's point of view. The story of two girls trying to be a step ahead of the Germans and how a war destroyed countries and lives. 

When I started this book I was looking for what will happen in the end. After having read some brilliant books on WWII, I had high expectations from this one. But I found it lacking in so many areas. The writing felt devoid of emotions at a lot of places and not to mention the editing errors that could have been avoided. While there were moments when I was fully invested in the book. But the excerpts of facts at the beginning of each chatper were enlightening.
Even though it wasn't what I expected it was a decent tale depicting friendship and courage.

Thank you #netgalley and #harpercollinsuk for this free e-copy.
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This book was a very moving, touching, heart breaking and at times quite harrowing. The book is based around true events that happened in Belgium during World War II. It gives you a glimpse of how terrible war really is. Families being torn apart as some go off to fight, while other families loose their lives just because of being Jewish.

This story is about two young women who in spite of their different backgrounds are inseparable best friends. Simone Lyon is the daughter to a WWI war hero General Joseph Lyon. Where Hava Daniels is a beautiful lively Jewish girl.

When the war finally reaches Belgium Simone’s father has to leave her to help fight against the Germans. He leaves her with his medal of honor telling her that he’ll be back to claim it back off of her.

When the bombs start to fall around them Simone and Hava do what they can to find each other to make sure that they are both safe. Luckily the bombs miss both of their houses even though they live on different ends of the town.

Not long after the bombs stop falling the Germans start marching through their town. Simone and Hava know that they need to flee, but before they do Hava must find her family so they can all go together. However when they finally get to her house they have gone, so they make their way to the synagogue hoping to find them there. Yet again the synagogue is deserted. With no signs of her family Simone persuades Hava that she needs to go home and pack and then go back to Simone’s house so she can pack.

With so many other people leaving the town trying to flee from the advancing Germans they both find it hard to say in front of them. Eventually their luck runs out there is nowhere else to go. Hava gives herself up to the Germans to protect Simone. Hava wouldn’t change her mind no matter how much Simone pleased with her that it would be better to stay together.

Simone pledges that she will come and find Hava again once the war is over. As Hava is taken away Simone has no other option but to go back home and wait out the war. Will the girls ever see each other again and will Simone’s father come back safely too?
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Thank you for providing me with a review copy of this book. Enjoyed reading, interesting story, would recommend....
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Interwoven with facts and excerpts from speeches
So incredibly moving, but amazingly keeps a sense of humour.
The descriptions of the beauty then the devastation of Brussels, people running for their lives when the invasion begins. The kindness of strangers, the disregard and selfishness of others.
Happy 18 year old Simone, the daughter of a famous General, enjoys life with her best friend Hava a beautiful and lively Jewish girl. Simone's father has to leave her alone when the war starts and the two girls have to flee for their lives, they eventually get separated and Simone searches for her friend.
So well written, I could not stop reading it.
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Starting in Belgium in 1939, this book is based on true events. Simone Lyon and Hava Daniels are best friends, and the stories about their life and adventures growing up together before 1939 are so beautiful; but the entire time you are reading, you know this story is not going to have a happy ending, because while Simone's father is a WW1 hero and goes on to do remarkable and brave deeds in WW2, Simone is Christian. Hava is Jewish.

'Ashes' tells the tale of two young girls fleeing Belgium and the invading Nazi army. Their friendship is told in such a touching way, most women remember a friendship they had while they were young, that they thought would last forever, while playing daft games and make-believe. I also really loved the ending, which made me absolutely sob my heart out. 

Unfortunately, where this book lost for me, was the lack of terror the characters felt when they were running from overhead gunfire and bombs were dropping around them, or even when faced with the SS. Perhaps the girls had simply become numb in the face of fear, but this was not really shown well either. Additionally, how quickly Simone forgets her promise, and how long she takes to remember just does not wash with me. Considering the close bond between Simone and Hava, this promise should have been an obsession that she worked tirelessly at. The fact that she doesn't do this makes me feel like Simone values that relationship rather cheaply, and that makes me hate her a little.

'Ashes' is full of ordinary people with a focus on acts of kindness in the face of brutality and evil. I would happily recommend this book to teens and young adults who are looking to get into this sort of content. However, for people that have already read a lot of true stories based during this time or even non-fiction books about WW2, I would be more likely to recommend 'Night' by Elie Wiesel.
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Beautifully written, another war story but told from a different perspective, I really enjoyed this book. Thanks for letting me review it.
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I feel really bad rating a book on this subject with a low rating, and honestly I considered giving this book two stars, but ultimately I feel like this was the only rating I could give it. 

I don't know what it was about this book but I just couldn't connect at all to the characters or the story; it almost felt like the writing was quite clinical and there were no real emotions pouring through. The events of the book should read as horrific and terrifying but the characters never seem to be portrayed in a way that shows their emotions or the impact of the events on them. Simone is the daughter of a General and can see in him the horrors of war and yet she spends the first half of the book in complete denial about what is going on, and then because she is his daughter she essentially gets free passage and food everywhere she goes.

I think part of the problem is the structure of the book; we get flashbacks throughout the events of the book but they tend to happen in line with events that are happening at the time so it's both jarring trying to figure our when we are, but also disrupts the flow of events that should horrify you. And then there are random quotes in the book from true events or world leaders which again takes you out of the flow of the writing. It almost felt like the author really skimmed the events of the book and focused almost entirely on the girls friendship; which yes came across as very deep, but it meant that the book felt almost superficial? I think it spent so much time setting up about the girl's lives in Brussels, then we get a quick few chapters on them fleeing, and then it's Simone's life afterwards; so I think it was the pacing and the structure of the book that took me out of it. 

I do think this book portrayed their friendship well and you can see the love and affection they have for one another but ultimately I just felt no emotional connection to the book, which I am disappointed about. 

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read an eARC of this book.
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I was given an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an independent review. 
I enjoy reading books set against this period of time so from a historical point of view this was quite interesting. 
But I found the writing a bit stilted and clinical which reduced the emotional impact for me. An ok read 
3 stars
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Thank you to NetGalley and HarperInspire for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not a huge reader of historical fiction, but I do tend to be drawn towards world war two era stories. Having read the Tattooist of Auschwitz I kind of expected this to be a rip off, of that. Bad of me, I know. Although I was really pleasantly surprised, going into this completely blind that this book is written from a Belgian perspective during the war. I'd never read a book about the war based on real events that was set from a Belgian perspective and I really enjoyed that this was something new and unique for me.

This book was equal parts enjoyable and heartbreaking, I absolutely adored the characters of Simone and Hava and the ending was incredibly bittersweet for these characters. I really liked the writing style of Christopher de Vinck, having never heard of this author before reading this book.

I definitely think this book is deserving of the four star rating, and I'd definitely recommend it for fans of historical fiction or world war two, holocaust era fiction.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Inspire for the arc of Ashes by Christopher de Vinck.

This is set in world war 2, historical fiction novel, which is actually based on true events!!  which follows two young women, First is Simone whom is the daughter of World War I hero General Joseph Lyon, and Hana whom is Jewish. Germans invade belguim and are seperated from their families so they only have each other and they form a strong friendship. Until Hana is dragged away because she is Jewish, Simone is determined to find her after the war has ended. This is a heartwarming but emotional book about two girls who were inseperable then torn apart... i loved the story between these girls it is a rollercoaster of a book wow i loved it so much 

5 stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Unfortunately I didn’t love this one as much as I was hoping to. I liked the idea behind it and the storyline, but it fell flat for me. I can see why some people love this one, but it just wasn’t for me.
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Set in Belgium at the beginning of World 
War II, this is the story of two friends. One the daughter of Belgian WW1 war hero, the other a Jewish girl. It's a slower book than many other books about the same period and similar subject but still a good read.
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Very sad story to read, very harrowing. I didn’t know much about Belgium during WW2 and I’m glad I read this, even though it was upsetting and at times I had to put it down and read something else.
My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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A story about a friendship between two young women, one Christian and one Jewish, at around the time of the German invasion of Belgium during WWII and of the heartbreak, and terrible events that go hand in hand with war. A story of escape, separation, but always hope for a reconciliation.

Not my normal genre of reading material, however I found it well written and interesting...however, I found the ending rather abrupt, and in my mind, more could have been written about Hava's story. Many thank to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.
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