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The Shadows We Make by Jo Allen Ash

What's it About?

“What we were discussing was absolutely impossible. We both knew it. Or if she didn’t, I certainly did. But the tiniest glimmer inside thought otherwise. Prodded me, said, don’t let despair stop you. Don’t let logic stop you. Don’t let all the hurdles, the unachievable, stop you.”


In Jo Allen Ash’s The Shadows We Make (Potter Street Books), glimmers of hope are certainly far and few, yet certainly a hidden superpower for Grace Irese, the brave and rebellious teenage warrior of the Irese Tribe. From start to end, Grace is confronted with obstacles and adventure. Her home, Citadel, has been under siege and has now been dismantled into a war-torn desert city. With not only her tribe, the Irese, but also her parents and three brothers nowhere to be found, Grace is forced to confront the world on her own.

Grace promises herself that she will do anything in her capabilities to restore her home and her family, is soon endowed with a mission to avenge her name after being unjustly charged with treason by Citadel’s new ruler, Stone Tiran. Grace is furious, and to make matters worse, she’s had a rocky past with Stone Tiran; Grace had rejected being paired to Stone Tiran in matrimony, to the dismay of her entire community. Stone takes revenge on Grace by kidnapping her parents and having her condemned and exiled to a cruel and inescapable penal colony on the uninhabited moon, Emerald. She is destined to live there as an inmate until her penal sentence: death. Luckily, Grace is not entirely alone at Emerald Penal Colony; but from what her inmates tell her, no one has escaped alive. Will Grace be able to escape this prison and reunite with her family? 

As you follow Grace’s journey through hostile desert lands of obstacles and adventure, there are moments that make you frightened, moments that make you furious, and moments that make you laugh. The reader gets to meet relatable yet mysterious characters, including Grace’s unlikely motley crew of friends. The potpourri of personalities range from the beautiful island mystic Carina, who has the ability to read minds, to the duo Skelly Shane and Mika, the mischievous board game fanatics, to bad boy persona Duncan Oaks, who is secretly a good guy on a mission to find and rescue his lost sister.


The Shadows We Make is a take that hovers between adventure, science fiction and apocalyptic dystopia. Yet despite dark themes in this tale, the unceasing bravery, unexpected friendships and Grace’s refusal to accept any fate other than the happy ending she deserves casts a ray of light that spreads throughout the novel. Readers can discover through Allen Ash’s novel newfound hope and direction in the power of teamwork and friendship that can be forged even through the hardest times. 

The Shadows We Make features beautifully crafted, intricate world-building, with enough suspense and cliff hangers to delight any Science Fiction reader. The novel is brought to life by three separate voices, each providing the reader with a different perspective on the story. Each of Ash’s characters are relatable, yet layered to bring out their charm and complexity. Ash captivates the reader throughout the entire novel through her poetic writing and dramatic tone. Anyone who enjoys curling up with a suspenseful novel and getting lost in a new, dystopian fantastical world will enjoy Ash’s The Shadows We Make.


About Jo Allen Ash:

Jo Allen Ash has been traditionally and self-published with books released by the former Warner Books, Kensington and indie companies under her own name and pseudonyms. Once and Always (written as Alyssa Deane), was translated and sold in various European countries. She self-publishes the Connor Falls Christmas series as Robin Maderich, but has always wanted to return to writing for the young adult reader.

The Shadows We Make is a young adult tale of dystopian sci-fi/fantasy filled with complex and compelling characters. Jo burrows down into dark themes such as addiction, hopelessness and loss, countered by the strength and unexpected sweetness of forged friendships. The next book in the planned series, The Thrice-Gifted Child, continues where The Shadows We Make leaves off, with the same cast of characters and a few more besides.

The Shadows We Make by Jo Allen Ash
Author: Jo Allen Ash
Daniela Ramras

Daniela is a rising senior at Williams College, where she majors in Comparative Literature and enjoys writing and editing for The Williams Record newspaper. Her work has won the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards “Gold Key,” and has been published in the book Convergence: Best Arizona Teen Writing of 2015. In her free time, Daniela loves reading pop psychology and other non-fiction, sketching things that inspire her and playing tennis.

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