The world's last bastion of green vegetation is being invaded by armed soldiers from the desert. Neither the townspeople nor soldiers know it, but it is the last battle in a long war between two immortal enemies.
The Garden of Dust and Thorns by Jeffrey Aaron Miller is the story of Adhi, a teenage girl who would rather walk through the trees of the Garden than act her own age. The Garden is the last place of true green in the world, a many mile stretch of forest and animals that is surrounded by high walls. Everywhere else in the world is desolate, the world in ruin from an unknown event.
The lives of Adhi and all the other residents of Haven Ridge are thrown into desperate chaos when an army of soldiers marches from the desert. They take the townsfolk prisoner and demand volunteers to be sacrifices for their true goal: to defile the Garden. These men are followers of a god, Deti Maranam, Lord Beneath the Sand, who hates the Garden with a deadly passion. Adhi agrees to be one of those sacrifices, because she knows this is the only way to get back into the Garden and possibly escape the soldiers. She has been hearing a mysterious call, one that comes from the being at the heart of the Garden, The Old Planter...
What follows is both a chase and a war, as old secrets are revealed to Adhi and she realizes just how important the Garden. Then it is up to her to decide how much she will sacrifice to protect it from these invaders.
The Garden of Dust and Thorns is an enjoyable read about the conflict between nature and desolation, between those who would destroy and those who would protect. It is a very nature-focused book, as there is never any doubt of the green-loving viewpoint as being the good and righteous one. It has themes of nature defending itself from destruction, but only through the help of human hands and the will to stand up and fight for what is disappearing. If the overt and unrepentant pro-nature standpoint rubs you the wrong way, this may be the wrong book for you. For all others, while this is a book of the green versus desolation, the story is still very human and very fragile. It is a story of people as much as nature.
Tone-wise, this book is somewhere in between a YA and an adult book. Adhi herself is teenaged and she has the same doubts and coming-into-her-own problems of many YA novel protagonists. But at the same time, there is a book of battle and death. Men are gored by animals, speared by weapons, and people fight while stepping over piles of corpses. While none of this is described in extreme detail, neither is it just glossed over. However, if neither of those aspects bother you, there is a fun, easy to read, and quite enjoyable story here.
If you are looking for a book of destruction vs nature, of what a young girl and a few friends can do against a defiling army, of an old war that pits humanity against each other in the last green place on the planet, then The Garden of Dust and Thorns is a worthwhile read.
Garden of Dust and Thorns on Amazon
First Chapter on Author's Website
Jeffrey Aaron Miller's Website