> Skip to content
Read an extract About the book
  • Published: 28 May 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143772439
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $19.99

Ash Arising




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

  • Pub date: 28 May 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143772439
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Mandy Hager

Mandy Hager has been awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton fellowship for 2014, and she was the 2012 recipient of the New Zealand Society of Authors Beatson Fellowship. She won the Esther Glen Award for Fiction for her YA novel Smashed and Best Young Adult Book in the NZ Post Book Awards 2010 for The Crossing. The Nature of Ash won the LIANZA YA Fiction Award in 2013 and was shortlisted for the 2013 NZ Post Children's Book Awards. In 2015 her novel Singing Home the Whale was awarded a Storylines Notable Book Award; was a finalist for the LIANZA YA Fiction award; it won the YA category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults; and was named the 2015 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year. Singing Home the Whale was described by the judges as a novel that "should be compulsory reading in any country that still hunts whales." Her adult novel, Heloise, was longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in 2018.

Hager has a MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University and an Advanced Diploma in Applied Arts (Writing) from Whitireia Community Polytechnic, where she now works as a tutor and mentor. She lives with her partner on the Kapiti Coast.

She has written novels for adults and young adults, short stories, scripts, and non-fiction resources for young people.

See more at www.mandyhager.com, and on her Facebook pages for the Blood of the Lamb trilogy and for The Nature of Ash.

Internationally acclaimed writer Margaret Mahy proclaimed The Crossing as being like ‘1984 for teenagers — direct, passionate and powerful’, while in the Otago Daily Times children’s writer and reviewer Tania Roxborogh similarly drew comparisons between this ‘important book’ and other literary classics, declaring it ‘utterly compelling . . . very much in the vein of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Lowry’s The Giver’. The New Zealand Listener identified The Crossing as ‘classic young adult fiction’, describing it as ‘fast-paced, moving and the personal is always political . . . . tracking the journey from childhood to adulthood . . . [with] an authentic, fully realised sense of place’. The second title in the Blood of the Lamb trilogy, Into the Wilderness, was described by the Listener as a ‘sustained, gripping piece of writing, a visceral battle against the elements’. The trilogy concluded with the ‘gripping, futuristic’Resurrection.

Stand-alone thriller The Nature of Ash received a glowing review from Zac Harding of Christchurch City Library: ‘Mandy Hager has set a new standard in thrilling, action-packed stories for NZ teens with her new book, The Nature of Ash, and I’ll say it can proudly stand alongside these international, best-selling dystopian thrillers . . . The Nature of Ash is an exciting, explosive, action-packed thriller that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish . . . Ash is one of the most authentic male teen characters in New Zealand fiction. ’

Graham Beattie on Beattie’s Blog, concurred: ‘It is not often you would describe a YA novel as a blockbuster but in this case it is totally appropriate . . . This 364-page totally gripping Wellington-set thriller has been getting rave reviews around the country and now having read the story myself I am not at all surprised. Action-packed, fast-paced stuff . . . Watch out for it in next year’s book awards. ’

Pip Cole in Tearaway declared herself ‘enthralled’, while Diane McCarthy commended the real, contemporary settings of this ‘political . . . futuristic’ novel, saying they gave ‘some real grit and realism’. She praised Hager for being ‘very brave’ — ‘I don’t know of many authors who write political thrillers for teens. ’

The Saturday Express saw The Nature of Ash as having wider appeal than the average teen novel, ‘part coming-of-age novel, part future warning of where we could end up, politically and socially’. The reviewer noted the ‘strong underlying themes of accepting those who are different, standing up for what you believe is important, and self-acceptance’, concluding ‘Hager could well be New Zealand’s answer to Aussie writer John Marsden’.

Also by Mandy Hager

See all

Praise for Ash Arising

“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


Awards & Recognition

  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults

    Shortlisted • 2019 • Book Awards for Children and YA


Related titles