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Ash Wednesday


Ash Wednesday
by J. R. Mabry

What if you knew exactly how you would die — what if everyone in town did?
A small town is torn apart by the arrival of mysterious statues depicting the deaths of the townsfolk. Peg, a frail and uncertain pastor, scrambles to deal with the grief and chaos of the community, while her estranged daughter, a headstrong Wiccan and Deputy Sheriff, investigates why the statues are appearing at all — which brings her face-to-face with mindless, cosmic evil from beyond the stars…

Wow! I got so much more than expected with this wonderful story! I am familiar with Mabry’s work having read the Berkeley Blackfriars series, so I was expecting a wild, wonderful ride of a fantasy mystery. But I got so much more! 
There is most definitely an enjoyable mystery, but Ash Wednesday is also a deep, beautiful, and complex story that left me with much to think about, feel, and digest. Deep philosophical concepts are intermingled with the story in an easy-to-understand way that invited me to ponder how we deal (or don’t deal) with grief and trauma and the effect that has on our lives and relationships.I will definitely be revisiting parts of this book more than once as I continue to unravel ideas it presented while thoroughly entertaining me. – M. Hales
Great Story! Moves fast with a lot of twists and turns. The characters are well developed and seen familiar by the end. Action mixed with emotion and deep insight. A unique offering. – David R Matthews
You must read this book! I just finished reading J.R. Mabry’s ASH WEDNESDAY, and I am awestruck at the author’s work. This book has a little of everything – believable characters, and a multifaceted, quick moving, never dull story line, or rather story lines! We find so many topics that are woven together. Not in particular order, we find characters involved in Christianity, Native American beliefs, and many levels of paganism. We see the struggles of those who are ‘coming out’ and the related struggles of those who don’t understand. Terminal illness, prejudice, discontent, questioning, various spiritual practices, wondering, the power of fear, grief, compassion, lack of compassion – the whole human story is found in these pages. There is the mysterious; there is intrigue, domestic and other all too common types of violence, kidnapping, murder, and the importance of creativity to deal with life. We find people who can’t seem to get away from the past, and others who have, but are reminded of it anyway. And there is so much more! I laughed, I cried, I highlighted words I want to look at again. And, at times I thought. “Huh? How did he think of that?!” My recommendation is to get this book and keep reading. Any question you have may or may not be answered – keep reading anyway! At the end, I hope you, like I did, will take a big sigh, and say, “Wow!” – Linda R-N
A tour de force, Mabry delivers a novel for everyone! Think of any human (or non-human) conundrum, or condition, or state of mind, Mabry’s mind goes there! Inhabiting the mind- and heart-worlds of humanity in all its forms is one of Mabry’s gifts; his scrupulous effort to get it right is his grace as a writer. Each character is sketched with a generosity of spirit that makes the reader care about their fate. In the end, we identify with these people because we know these people, or, failing that, we end up wishing we did. – Alan J Revering
Marvelously engaging story! I loved this book! It was hard to put it down once I started it. It is a combination of a great storyline and a compelling underlying theme of mortality and how we relate to that. It has an interesting cast of characters engaged in life concerns we all encounter at some point. And, if you’re one those people that hates a good book to end, this long novel is definitely one for you! – Katrina Leathers
Deep and engrossing! This is perhaps my favorite of the John Mabry books I’ve had the pleasure to read. Lengthy and complex, yes. Powerfully spiritual against a backdrop of small town people with a variety of philosophical and political views. Crazy, engaging, somewhat creepy plot. It helps to have some familiarity with a spectrum of religious ideas and practices, but at the same time, the book is very educational if you don’t. Love the way the characters are drawn, particularly Malala. – Rev CB
J.R. Mabry roams the earth like the ghost of Jacob Marley, searching for the perfect omelet pan. He writes thoughtful urban fantasy and science fiction. When not haunting high-end cooking stores, he lives with his wife and three dogs in Oakland, CA. He is allergic to coffee, tea, and alcohol, and for this reason the hills resound with his lamentation. He is also generally a cheery guy. Visit his website at
Published by Apocryphile Press

Review & Commentary