Series: Blood and Ash #1
Published by Blue Box Press on 2020-03-30
Length: 622 pages
Reviewing Kindle from Amazon
Reading Challenges: 2020 New Release Challenge
Captivating and action-packed, From Blood and Ash is a sexy, addictive, and unexpected fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Laura Thalassa.
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.
Oh my heart hurts and my brain….it hurts too! From Blood and Ash is the first book in a new series from Jennifer L Armentrout, and she surprised us all with this release. I don’t know how she kept it a secret y’all, but she did, and it was the best surprise ever! From Blood and Ash is a captivating story about one girl and her duty to the kingdom.
Poppy is the maiden, chosen by the gods, but no one really knows what that means for her. Veiled at all times, no one except her guardians and personal guard has seen Poppy’s face. She’s held as a symbol of hope by the Ascended (more on them in a minute). Yet Poppy feels smothered. Regular, everyday routines are given to her as a privilege. It’s her “sacrifice.” As the day of her own Ascension draws near, Poppy becomes restless. She doesn’t fit this maiden role. She rebels in the only way she knows how. She learns to fight from her guard Vikter who is like a father to her, she sneaks books from the library that she isn’t supposed to read, she befriends her maid, and she sneaks off to the Red Pearl, a place of ill-repute. It’s here where the story begins and I found myself completely engrossed in Poppy’s plight.
And then enters Hawke. Hawke is a soldier in the Royal army, a new transfer from the capital. After a chance encounter with Poppy at the Red Pearl, tragedy strikes and Hawke finds himself as Poppy’s new guard. He is highly trained, and he sees through Poppy’s defenses better than her closest friends. He is an enigma, one she wants to figure out (and that of course endears him to me). Chaos seems to follow in his wake, or maybe it’s following Poppy. Regardless, Hawke brings levity to a dark tale.
Unlike Jennifer L Armentrout‘s other books, this is a fantasy and a little bit of a slower read than you might be used to from her. There is a lot of world-building to do, and I love how she interweaves it into the main plot without just info-dumping on us. By a quarter of the way into the book, you know everything you need to know. Anything else that may come up as the story progresses is explained then and in greater detail.
Perhaps my favorite part of this story is the world-building. The Ascended are intriguing. They only come out at night, their eyes are solid black, they’re fast and inexplicably strong. They are also worshipped by their people. Everything in this society revolves around them and the Ascension which takes place once a year for the nobility as they reach a certain age. No one really knows what happens during the ceremony, only that if they are found worthy, the gods will bless them as Ascended. What happens to the unworthy?
Overall From Blood and Ash is taking the spot as my favorite read this year (so far). I love Poppy and Hawke, I love the world-building, I even love the plot twists that break me. Y’all this book is everything I could ask for in an epic fantasy. Jennifer L Armentrout delivers a steamy romance and a plot full of deception and mystery. If you enjoy fantasy, I highly recommend you grab a copy and start ASAP!