Cover image for Ashen winter
Ashen winter
Publication Information:
Terre Haute, IN : Tanglewood, 2012.
Physical Description:
576 p. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
730 L Lexile
More than six months after the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano, Alex and Darla retrace their steps to Iowa hoping to find Alex's parents and bring them to the tenuous safety of Illinois, but the journey is ever more perilous as the remaining communities fight to the death for food and power.


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It's been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex's relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It's also been six months of waiting for Alex's parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex's parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

Author Notes

Mike Mullin first discovered he could make money writing in sixth grade. His teacher, Mrs. Brannon, occasionally paid students for using unusual words. Mullin's first sale as a writer earned ten cents for one word: tenacious.
Since then, Mullin has always been involved with literature. One of his early jobs was shelving books at Central Library in Indianapolis. Later, he paid his way through graduate school in part by serving as a reference assistant. He has worked in his mother's business, Kids Ink Children's Bookstore, for more than twenty years, serving at various times as a store manager, buyer, school and library salesperson, and marketing consultant.
Mullin wrote his first novel in elementary school -- Captain Poopy's Sewer Adventures. He's been writing more or less nonstop ever since, but fortunately for his readers, Ashfall will be his first published novel.
Mullin holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. Visit for more info about the author and Ashfall and its sequel, Ashen Winter.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Following the cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Yellowstone Park and the resulting volcanic winter, nationwide drops in temperature, and devastating snowfalls led to mass starvation and widespread lawlessness in Ashfall (Tanglewood, 2011). Separated from his family, Alex and Darla, a resourceful girl he met on the road, made their way to his uncle's farm. In this book, Alex gets word that his parents may still be alive and the teens head out into a very dangerous world to try to find them. Mullin's heroes are forced into horrendous situations where they deal with cannibals, slavers, corrupt government officials, and other nasty characters. Stomach-turning descriptions of brutality and strong language may offend some readers, but teens who enjoyed Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008) and Michael Grant's Gone (HarperTeen, 2008) will find Mullin's story equally engaging.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Almost a year after the Yellowstone eruption in Ashfall (2011), Alex and Darla are drawn back to dangerous Illinois, which has only grown worse. Life on Alex's uncle's farm has settled into a routine, and while the eruption has triggered an extended subzero winter, Alex and Darla's heated relationship keeps them warm. When a small flenser gang--cannibals--attack the farm, they drop the shotgun that Alex's uncle gave Alex's parents before they ventured into Illinois looking for their son. This discovery prompts Alex--accompanied by the more competent Darla--to head out in search of his parents. After a false start and a disastrous run-in with their old enemies, FEMA military contractors Black Lake, the story picks up with an even more catastrophic run-in with well-organized cannibals. The encounter leaves Alex trying to survive without Darla's help, struggling against flensers who trade in humans--both as food (in explicit detail) and for sex (tastefully inexplicit). Alyssa, a former slave of the cannibals, and her high-functioning autistic brother, military expert Ben, join Alex's rescue mission. The human-driven gore is much more horrifying than in Ashfall, though the realism isn't as strong in the frequent action sequences. Alex's nuanced feelings toward Darla serve to ground the book nicely, though. The cliffhanger ending leaves readers craving the next installment--and dreading what it may bring. A violent, desperate adventure in a chaotic, post-disaster world. (author's note) (Adventure. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

As fast, furious, action-packed, and, yes, gruesome as Ashfall (2011), this sprawling sequel follows the continuation of 16-year-old Alex's journey with tough, gorgeous Darla through the ash and snow of a post-volcanic, dystopian midwestern world to find his parents, who are also searching for him. As he travels along the frozen Mississippi, he is reunited with Mom and Dad, but he loses Darla in a violent attack, and he sets out to rescue her from what might be forced prostitution. With the dangerous quests and violence (including torture), what will stay with readers is how the characters save each other from the worst.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist