Riveting and heart poundingly exciting, Ashen Winter is the perfect follow-up to Ashfall! Alex and Darla have been living in Warren with his relatives after their harrowing journey to get there. But Alex’s parents have not returned, and the discovery of his father’s shotgun in the hands of bandits spurs Alex to leave the farm and search for them. Darla chooses to accompany him, and they are thrust into the dangerous world once more. A thrilling adventure follows that uncovers the depravities humans will sink to in order to survive, but also highlights how sometimes the best of intentions can bring about disastrous consequences.Being familiar with Alex and Darla, I found them enjoyable to read about, and found myself smiling at their relationship. It’s nice that they have found one another in the post volcanic eruption world and are clinging to their relationship. They have really grown and become a lot tougher. I loved that Alex learns some heard lessons and ceases to be so idealistic in this book, although he hasn’t lost his hope! On their journey Alex and Darla meet Alyssa and her autistic brother Ben. I really liked Ben: he’s so smart and I was gratified to see the other characters in the book recognise his intelligence and listen to him. Alyssa annoyed me for a while, but then I realised she was trying to the survive in the only way she knew how, so I was a little more forgiving. I found it much harder to like Alex’s parents. I suppose like all parents they just wanted to keep their son safe, but Alex has survived ten months without them and they need to treat him like an adult. His mother’s mollycoddling really got on my nerves.The plot of Ashen Winter is tighter than that of Ashfall – it still has lulls in the action but doesn’t allow the characters to fall into self-pity and long periods of mostly useless reflection. The world is again well realised. Even though only six months has passed since the events of Ashfall, and Alex and Darla transverse pretty much the same area as they did previously, things have changed a lot and they face different challenges looking for his parents than they did when they were making their way to the farm in Warren.Ashen Winter is a wonderful followup to Ashfall and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This book will be enjoyed by fans of the Post-apocalyptic genre, and and those looking for something different to read. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series!A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic.