Sep 15, 2014
I miss Anne Hartford already. This is not a spoiler for Leaving Ashwood, Cynthia Kraack’s third and final book in the “Ashwood” futuristic fiction trilogy. I’m just sad to see it come to an end.
CYNTHIA KRAACK podcast excerpt: "Anne Hartford came to me when I was doing my MFA program. I started writing a story about a young woman standing with all of her earthly possessions in front of this big, forbidding residence. It took six months after that to understand who she was and what was going on."
I still remember reading the first book, Ashwood, and finding it a little bit of a slow starter. But about 50 pages in – the point at which I’ll often put a book down and move on – the narrative caught fire, the characters grabbed me by the collar, and I couldn’t put it down.
Harvesting Ashwood was more of the same. Kraack created a world sometime in the future of the United States of America when a Second Great Depression has beaten down its citizens, reduced freedom of movement, discussion, and even thought to an illusion, and corporations have a death grip on the Constitution itself.
CYNTHIA KRAACK podcast excerpt: "A part of 'Leaving Ashwood' is about large multinational corporations becoming more powerful than the national governments. The 10 largest corporations in the world are now like half the largest economies in the world if you were to compare GDP with revenues. It's like, whoa! We're already part-way there."
Pardon my French but it’s some scary shit. In the third and final novel, Leaving Ashwood, Kraack doesn’t disappoint. She takes her main and supporting characters in some surprising yet natural directions. More details about their era and the world around them is revealed. The politics are ugly. But Anne Hartford never loses the essence of what makes her so compelling.