Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
370 Pages
Reviewed on 04/11/2021
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash is a work of fiction in the historical epic sub-genre. It is suitable for all ages and was penned by author Tammy Pasterick. The story follows a married pair of immigrants living in Pittsburgh in the early 20th century, both being stretched to breaking point by their exploitive employers. The husband, Janos, has been working a physically demanding job 12 hours a day every day for ten years, whilst his wife Karina is forced to tolerate the unwanted advances of her new employer or be returned to the boarding house. In the aftermath of their breaking point, all that remains is to try to put the pieces of their family back together once more.

Author Tammy Pasterick delivers a powerful and emotional work that I really took to heart. One of my favorite things about this novel was the author's keen eye for the historical details; the story felt well researched and the setting felt rich. Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash exudes atmosphere and intrigue and gripped me from the very first page. The Kovacs' journey is powerful, emotional, and real, and Pasterick does a masterful job of paying homage to the past sacrifices that people like the Kovacs made. The storytelling in this novel is second to none, telling a gripping story of the struggle immigrants faced, whilst keeping twists and turns you won’t see coming that served to keep the story engaging throughout. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this novel to fans of action-packed fiction in a historical setting, and those looking for a meaningful story about mental health and the cost of facing our demons.

Heather Osborne

Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash by Tammy Pasterick is a family saga spanning nearly a decade in early 1910s America. Janos and Karina Kovac come to the United States from Eastern Europe, seeking the proverbial streets paved with gold. However, the reality is anything but. Janos works long hours shoveling coal into a furnace, and Karina keeps house for a middle-class man. Their children, Sofie and Lukas, do their best to help, troubled by their parents’ deteriorating marriage. Then, a horrible accident at the furnace has Janos reconsidering the life he’s built so far in grimy Riverton. As he contemplates a solution to their situation, Karina makes an ill-advised decision of her own. Can the family escape the shadows of their past and start anew, or will nightmares come back to haunt them?

I thoroughly enjoyed Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash by Tammy Pasterick. She adroitly blends the points of view of the characters to weave together a story of heartbreak and hope. I especially admire how she used characters from all economic backgrounds, and explored the hard topics of the day like mining accidents and the unionization of industrial workers. I also appreciated the discussion of infertility, as this was something many women have faced throughout time and had to remain silent about, or felt it was their own deficiencies that prevented them from becoming pregnant. I would recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in the early industrialization of the United States, as well as to anyone who enjoys historical novels that are driven by the characters’ emotions.

Edith Wairimu

Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash by Tammy Pasterick is a poignant novel that explores Pennsylvania’s coal and steel mining history through the lives of a Slovak family. When Janos and his wife, Karina, left for America, they were hopeful that they could build a decent life in their new country. When years pass with Janos working in the steel mills of Pennsylvania and Karina serving in a repulsive boarding house and later as a housekeeper, they become even more aware of the limited opportunities available for immigrants. When Karina’s employer notifies her of his impending departure to New York, Karina is faced with a choice. The thought of going back to work in the boarding house fills her with dread but the alternative is equally distressing.

Through Karina’s life and role in Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash, Tammy Pasterick examines the symptoms and effects of mental illness, an important and relevant topic. Via the experiences of another character in the novel, Pasterick also brings attention to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that can affect a woman’s ability to have a child. Other critical themes are explored including those of family relationships, grief, and resilience in the face of loss. Some lovely romantic strands are also added including that of Janos’s daughter, Sofie. The novel closely follows the main characters’ lives and by the end of the story, I felt like I knew them. Pasterick also does a great job of tying the plot’s ends together and creating a satisfactory conclusion that addresses each character’s story. Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash by Tammy Pasterick is a moving and well-researched work with unforgettable characters and impactful lessons.