> Skip to content

Chilling and page-turning, this compelling novel crackles with political intrigue, fast-paced action and unexpected twists.

The gripping sequel to the prize-winning thriller The Nature of Ash.

Ash McCarthy thought he had done enough by broadcasting his story to the world, exposing the corruption and lies of Prime Minister Chandler and his cronies. With his small band of friends and family on a remote campsite in the backcountry, he awaits the international community to answer his call for action. But the public response is not what he had hoped for and the fallout from his revelations will lead him and his companions into even more danger.

Can Ash withstand the new challenges that confront him? And what of Mikey – can he survive in this increasingly merciless world?

Chilling and page-turning, this compelling novel crackles with political intrigue, fast-paced action, unexpected twists and lots of heart.

‘Political, economic and ecological issues sizzle in the action, dialogue and reactions of the characters . . . a novel very hard to forget.’ — NZ Books on The Nature of Ash


Wow! Before you pick up this book, go and read The Nature of Ash – a brilliant book which I thought was going to be a hard act to follow in keeping up the tension, suspense, thrill and adventure. Turns out I was wrong. Mandy Hager has done it again. Ash, the reluctant key figure in a New Zealand overrun by dark and manipulative forces, responsible for his younger brother Mikey after their father was killed by those same forces, is now hiding out in Whanganui with his brother, and his friends Ziao and Travis, and his lawyer. Mikey, who has Down’s syndrome, is entirely Ash’s reponsibility and this relationship (so well drawn, and so spot on in its empathy and understanding) just adds an extra layer into the story – but one which provides a wonderful counterbalance to the horror and mayhem going on around. The government, corrupt as can be, has yet to be overthrown by the handful of good guys who remain, and Ash becomes involved in some seriously frightening stuff. I will not tell you what, it’s just too good to spoil for anyone. But prepare for nail-biting, uncontrollable page-turning and a determination to read on even though it’s time for bed! Trust me, you won’t be able to sleep until you finish the book. This book is also a real celebration of brave young people – you know the ones, they think they are bullet proof (because their brains are not fully formed!) – but that’s exactly why they risk everything without second-guessing themselves. Mandy Hager reminds the older and more cynical reader that in fact change can be achieved by the young – and our job, if we still have one, is to assist them in that and refrain from saying old-fart things like ‘it will never work’ and ‘we tried that already’. Do yourself a favour – go out and buy this book for yourself, and then buy copies for all the teenagers you know, and then lend one to all the old farts you know. Mandy Hager, you’re amazing.

Sue Esterman, Booksellers.co.nz

Hager’s writing is masterful. She keeps the tension taut throughout, controlling the chaos of explosions, gunshots, kidnappings and more. She makes her moral points and she kicks the world’s arse for letting things get so bad. You can't help but watch in awe. Read this book. You’ll see what I mean. As you’ve probably got from all the mentions of violence above – probably best for 13+, unless you think your preteen can cope with the total disintegration of the status quo. (and lots of explosions).

Sarah Forster, The Sapling

This sequel to The Nature of Ash, reviewed earlier on this blog, is a powerful novel promoting peaceful means to solve political problems that have gone feral . . . A thrilling read for High school and Young adult readers. Mandy Hager writes this convincing story with aplomb. Once you start you won’t put it down.

Bobs Book Blog, bobsbooksnz.wordpress

Ash Arising is a cross-over title that adults should also enjoy and can be read as a stand-alone novel, but readers will love it so much they'll want to go back and read the prequel.

Kapiti News

The rollicking pace does not let up: this novel is action-packed, with potentially fatal plot convulsions taking place at least once a chapter. This makes the story a true page-turner, and I certainly read it in a sitting. Hager is very effective at mixing action with exposition, so that the reader doesn't get lost in the strands of the complex political plot being exposed. Crucially, the drama is leavened and lightened by the found family that is also such a strong focus in the novel.

Angelina Sbroma, NZ Books

The book is a gripping read, a political thriller and a true page-turner.

Fleur Beale, NZ Books

More a slow burn than the incandescence of award-winning The Nature of Ash, this sequel sees reluctant activist Ash McCarthy and his friends forced to determine who their allies are and who they dare not trust – right up to the highest levels of government. Ash’s brother Mikey remains the most endearing Down syndrome character in YA fiction.

Ann Packer, NZ Listener

An exciting thriller. But also a tender and thought-provoking read. An excellent sequel to The Nature of Ash. Highly recommended

Melanie Muir, NZ Book Council

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    May 28, 2018


    272 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    May 28, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ



It's gutting how much can change in just four weeks. One moment I’m Hero Whistle-blower; the next, State Enemy Number One. The pressure rises day on day, and Mikey senses we’re not telling him what’s going on. It’s true, but he’s already bad enough: confused, clingy and sobbing in his sleep. He’s throwing major tantrums at the slightest thing.


Continue Reading

Awards and Recognition

  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults
    Book Awards for Children and YA

Also by Mandy Hager