Silas House writes a cautionary tale of our not so far future. Climate change, deadly fires, and most of all the horrendous divisions in our belief systems result in a terrible struggle for survival. The main character, Lark, loses all - home, family, beloved, and friends, but in spite of it all, retains his humanity. I must warn readers that although this is a powerful, beautifully written story, at times it is difficult to read on. Then remember that humanity survive.
I really wanted to like this book! I mean just look at that premise, it's my kind of setting. And there's much to love about the writing: the scenery, the sensory. But there was something about the tone, pacing, and plot that didn't appeal to me. If you're a fan of quiet, slow, contemplative novels, this might be a good fit. That being said, lots of super sad things happen. Tragedies, really. But it still seemed to lack passion for me.
I was constantly having to remind myself that Lark was a 20 year old male. Even from the way his mother physically protected him and his father comforted him, seemed like he was young or female. Not just because he was needing care, but the voice came across as feminine to me. And that would be fine, but it was a constant thing for me throughout the read. Still, I was quite engaged until we got to the viewpoint of the beagle, Seamus. Then it was not only all backstory for some time, but an odd voice. Here's a dog capable of relating conversations, with the caveat that he didn't understand what they were saying. This didn't work for me.
This was followed by a huge chunk of backstory for Lark. We know, of course, that he survives, since he is telling the tale as an old man, but I don't care for when a book begins with the action (other than maybe a short prologue) then goes back. Either interweave it or start the story earlier.
The rest of the book was a plodding journey for me. I'm so glad so many people are loving it as it is, as there's so much wonderful story here. I'll definitely try another by the author, though, and hope this was just one that was not a good fit for me.
This is absolutely a new favorite story. A boy and his dog, survival, hope, love along with desperation, cunning and a vital relationship that is life affirming. So great.
The writing is also great, which made this an easy, fun read. I read it overnight.
The extremists have taken over and destroyed the United States. Life as we know it is gone. Think of an apocalypse and all those ramifications. Ireland is the only country taking refugees. Lark and his family attempt to get to Ireland and the challenges are devastating and grueling. Once on land Lark meets one of the last dogs left in the world, whose name is Seamus after a famous poet. They become champions of each other with in-depth bond and love between them. All the other dogs have been destroyed. Seamus is the last one. The story continues around surviving, love, loyalty and adventures that tax them for ever.
I really do love this trope as a lifelong lover of dogs. If you do also, check this one out.
I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but I really enjoyed this one.
After America is destroyed by fires, and the country has fallen into the hands of religious nationalists, Lark and his family seek refuge in Ireland. Lark is the sole survivor of the voyage and is devastated to find out that the safe-haven no longer exists.
This book is about friendship and found family.
Lark embarks on a journey with Seamus, one of the last surviving dogs (which is the most horrific part). Although there is a lot of sadness and devastation, there are also moments of hope.
In the near future, fires have destroyed the United States. No one is safe. Government has collapsed and the Fundamentalists rule, seeking out and killing anyone who does not want to conform. A family struggles to reach a mountaintop in Maine where they settle along with another family. But they are not safe even there. They have been told Ireland is accepting refugees, so they trade seeds for passage to Ireland, but the boat is destroyed by a faction of Irish fighters and Lark washes up alone on a deserted beach. Everyone on the boat has died. All he knows is that he has to reach Glendalough. As he travels, he meets one of the last remaining dogs in the world, named Seamus, and a lonely, bitter woman, searching for her kidnapped son. Their journey is fraught with peril. A story about friendship and loneliness, as well as our shared humanity.
I don't read a lot of dystopian fiction, simply due to the fact that either it's going to be too sci-fi for me, or it's going to seem too close to home and something that really could happen. Lark Ascending definitely was the latter for me. The events that lead up to Lark leaving the United States for Ireland seem like something that could 100% happen in our future.
The book was incredibly well-written and the plot was really engaging. It was a quick read with a big punch, and it's certainly one that will linger in my mind for a long time to come.
Thank you Algonquin Books and NetGalley for the eARC!
Read this in only a few hours. Absolutely incredible. The imagery and voice were breathtaking. Recommend 💯
I think this just wasn't my particular genre but I did appreciate the overall story. It took me a bit to get used to the writing but I did enjoy the characters! This felt so bleak at times that sometimes I did have to take a break (maybe it's our current climate around dystopian/futuristic cautionary tales) but it was very powerful overall!
Lark Ascending is set in the not-too-distant future after civilization’s collapse and follows a young man on his tragic journey across the Atlantic and then Ireland. After suffering unimaginable loss and plenty of near-death experiences, Lark heeds his mother’s advice to keep going and makes his way across Ireland. He comes across one of the last remaining dogs, Seamus, and a fierce older woman, Helen, who both become Lark’s companions and protectors. They embark on a treacherous quest for Glendalough, one of the most sacred places in Ireland and the destination Lark’s parents hoped to reach.
This post-apocalyptic novel feels like a warning for our present reality. House paints a vivid and terrifying picture of a world ravaged by religious nationalism, food shortages, disastrous global weather patterns and the refugee crisis. Lark’s character endured so much pain and suffering but even as he narrates the story from his elderly years, he never loses his tenderness and compassion. The real hero of this story is the good ol’ boy, Seamus. I’ve never loved a fictional dog more and he saved Lark’s life in more ways than one. This is a haunting yet hopeful story about the resilience of humanity in uncertain times. The bittersweet ending brought tears to my eyes & I truly can’t recommend this one enough.
Wow! This book totally blew me away. It had beautiful prose and really masterful storytelling. I love books when the MC is looking back on events from the past, and I felt that this narrative performed this writing style well. A fantastic meditation on grief and loss, I loved this one so much!
LARK ASCENDING - by Silas House – My Heart!
‘Lying back in the grass and laughing while my aunts leaned over me, both of them tickling me at the same time. Their wiener dogs are on either side of me, licking at my face. My aunts smiled down at me. There was a long period in my life when nobody smiled like that. Only recently has that returned.
‘But that’s about all I have of the Before. Glimpses, brief encounters.’
LARK ASCENDING is a touching, heart-wrenching novel about family, love, friendship, and the hope of acceptance and survival. The story centers around Lark, a twenty-year-old forced to flee America along with his family and others, hoping to make refuge in Ireland, the last country taking in American immigrants.
Thank you, NetGalley and Algonquin Books Of Chapel Hill, for providing me with an eBook and Paperback copy of LARK ASCENDING at the request of an honest review.
Silas House has a capivating writing style and the plot of Lark Ascending is the prefect mix of friendship, personal plight and challenges.
Thanks to Silas House and Algonquin Publishing for my eARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.
I loved the dog's perspective. The rest was fine, but overall a trope that's pretty well used these days.
Lark Ascending by Silas House reminded me of some aspects of early Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale. So really take that visual in real quick. A survival tale of a boy, a dog, and a woman navigating life on the fringe, avoiding the ruling extremist group. Continue reading to see my insight on this new book by Silas House!
While this is not a post-civilization story, it is still a survival story from the point of refugees or a rising extremist group in the US and abroad. Due to the survivalist nature of Lark Ascending, the book is fast-moving and the reader is on edge. Lark is unsure who to trust, having lived most of his life in these times only trusting the handful of people he lived with in Nova Scotia. Now he is in Ireland alone. House does a great job of making the reader unsure of the motivations of certain characters that appear. As a reader, you then doubt them as Lark would have realistically done in his situation.
Additionally, what makes Lark Ascending unsettling is its possible realness of it. The emergence of extremist groups and raging wildfires is quite surreal. I did find, especially as I’m writing this, that the escape from extremists overshadows the environmental side of things. House did include the discussion of fires, storms, and famines that lead to certain consequences. (I.e. the outlawing of pets, the importance of Lark’s mom saving seeds, intense and changing weather patterns, etc.). In the end, while it seemed in the synopsis that this would be a larger focus of the book, it was not as prominent as I would have expected.
Most of the Lark Ascending was from the point of view of Lark recounting his story as an old man. But for a small bit of the story, we get the story from the point of view of Seamus. Seamus, the beagle. As in the dog. Such a delight. It is not funny or heartwarming or anything, but I just enjoyed part of the story from the narration of the dog. While one could take issue with a dog’s POV waxing poetic about waves, I was fine with it. It was also interesting to see the changes in the world through the eyes of a dog, especially in a world in which all pets were illegal due to food instability. Even for those brief moments, it was an interesting narration device that was well done.
Lark Ascending was a pretty bleak book when everything is considered. But don’t let that keep you from reading it. I did enjoy reading this book. As a reader, I was invested in the characters and was experiencing the nail-biting dangers of this possible future. Personally, I am now interested in reading other books by Silas House.
From the beginning it clawed at my heart, my head , scared the hell out of me actually, and I almost wanted to stop reading it. This dystopian novel is a departure from House’s southern stories that I’ve read. I couldn’t give up on it , though, because of his beautiful writing and if you’ve read his other books , you’ll know he’s a born storyteller.
Lark is ninety and looking back to the time when he was a young man on a boat to Ireland with his mother and father, all that are left of those he loved seeking refuge from a world that is burning from climate change, a world now governed by Fundamentalists. Taking place in the not too distant future and sounding like an all too realistic scene , this is beyond scary. Certainly a message, a warning, but such an important one to heed.
With the fires, the government collapse, the Slaughters there is darkness, grief and violence , but somehow Silas House manages to let us see light and love , the unbroken human spirt in the face of it.
I received copy of this book from Algonquin through NetGalley.
My favorite authors new book about the downfall of America and how to survive it. Beautifully written and set in Ireland as well as US. Very eye opening about what could become our near future.
I love SIlas House!
Lark’s childhood is formed in a dystopian world ravaged by climate change, political unrest, marauding military, the breakdown of society, starvation and raging fires. His family seeks escape, first to Maine then a boat to Ireland. They do not even hope for a return to normalcy, just somewhere that is safe where they can live. In this brutal world, Lark finds courage, tenacity, and survival skills. Upon reaching Ireland, his quest begins for an almost mythic sanctuary that his mother encouraged him to find. Lark befriends an older woman and a dog who serve as his companions, guides and family. This is a haunting elegy of a failing and terrifying world and the world of beauty and community that was loss. Recommended. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this book.
I wasn't as crazy for this one as I thought I would be. It's a fairly good cli-fi read, but just seemed to fall a little flat for me.
Fires burn up a good portion of the United States and a militia group with a strong religious bent called The Fundies take advantage of the chaos to pull themselves into power. You either convert to the new government power or die at their hands. Most people are like 'fuck that' and begin to seek refuge elsewhere and Lark and his family end up on an overcrowded yacht headed to Ireland. The trip is a devastating one in which Lark loses both his mother and father, and those passengers who survived the ocean voyage are gunned down as the boat nears the shore.
Lark somehow miraculously makes it to land unscathed and begins the grueling journey on foot to locate Glendalough, a "thin place" once visited by his mother, rumored to be one of the last camps providing asylum there. Along the way, Lark gains two travel companions - a dog named Seamus (now a rare species that've mostly been killed off in this new dystopian world) and a local woman who's familiar with the lay of the land and the threats that populate the current landscape.
So the burning questions are do they make it to Glendalough and does the dog die (Oh how I HATE books that have dogs in it just so they can kill them off)... but you won't hear a peep out of me on those points. You'll have to read it for yourself if you want to know.
There's a lot of walking, a couple run-ins with some baddies, but for the most part it's stark landscapes, very little conversation, and a lot of scavanging for food and seeking cover in the forests. Not as dark as The Road, but not bright and cheery either, Lark Ascending is tender and touching, but also at times just as slow and stagnant.
This is a compelling story that hit me right in the heart. I struggled to finish it honestly because it felt almost too relevant to the time we are living in right now.
Lark embarks on harrowing journey across the ocean to a place in Ireland his mother said was safe. Losing all he has ever known, Lark learns about the will to survive and learns to trust again.