Book review: ASH (audiobook) | Luke Romyn

Once upon a time, Amazon sold only books online. Nowadays the e-commerce behemoth is coming close to owning global online retail. However, Amazon has not only maintained, but evolved its book sale business, albeit in the form of audiobooks. Most people in Australia will have heard of Audible thanks to Aussie poster girl, Rebel Wilson fronting its advertising campaigns in this country. Earlier this year Audible launched its Australian arm of Audible Originals focusing on original Australian stories with worldwide appeal.

Nothing could befit the definition of ‘Original’ more than a Gold Coast bouncer writing fantasy / sci-fi action novels in his spare time and becoming a USA Today best-selling author. That just about sums up Luke Romyn who released his latest book ‘Ash’, narrated by Jay Snyder, on Audible in June.

You have to wonder what Romyn has seen in his time as a nightclub bouncer. ‘Ash’ is the story of a former mercenary turned blind Catholic priest previously experimented on by a global corporation called Titanus enabling him to slip easily into and out of a parallel world called ‘Shade’ through rifts he creates at will. Shade is a grey, lifeless reflection of the real world where no living thing can survive, except him. Handy place to drag his enemies when he needs to kill them. Paradoxically, Shade is also the place where Ash’s wounds can heal rapidly and while there, he can also see. But he’s not the only one surviving in Shade. Demon-like monsters are lurking there, apparent anomalies of Titanus’ experiments as well. Ash must rescue a nine year old girl from Titanus’s experiments, fight off the monsters and close off portals to Shade around the world. Phew!

Ash spends a lot of time dragging his foes into Shade where they instantly perish having fought gladiatorial fights in the real world. Romyn’s graphic descriptions of the violence can be disturbing and you can only guess what inspired them. Did I mention Luke Romyn was once Chopper Reid’s body guard in a former life?

While some of Jay Snyder’s character voices are a little perplexing (a Haitian mercenary who sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger and a Vietnamese man who doesn’t sound Asian), his baritone voice suits the American male characters perfectly. Snyder skilfully switches character apace, and this is essential in keeping up with the rapid-fire story.

‘Ash’ is a testosterone fuelled sci-fi action romp with a clear good vs evil / David vs Goliath trajectory. There’s a good measure moral dilemma thrown in to keep the story from being too black and white and the fast pace helps make the story a riveting read, er, listen.

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