From Blood and Ash Book Review
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout is the start of an amazing series that I just can’t get enough of. It is a new NA series and around 622 pages long. It is a fantasy series focusing on the main protagonist Poppy, the Maiden, who has been sheltered and kept away from human contact apart from a select group of people until she reaches the age of Ascension. She is kept veiled in public and is favoured by the Queen. When someone close to her is murdered, her guard is replaced with Hawke Flynn, a smoldering and gorgeous solider. Is everything as it seems? No, of course it isn’t! This will contain spoilers as I go through the book. If you don’t want to be spoiled then please do not continue reading! You can purchase From Blood and Ash and the sequel below using an affiliate link.
From Blood and Ash is a brilliant read for so many reasons. Poppy is a lovely character. She’s relatable and funny and fierce and protective. She has been sheltered all her life and wants to live a little before her ascension. She misses her brother and her parents. She’s a fighter. She’s sneaky. Her description of spiders is completely accurate and something anyone with arachnaphobia will identify and agree with.
Hawke is just *hearteyes* he is seductive and sarcastic and funny. He has a bit of darkness to him that makes Poppy curious during their interactions. He teases her a lot but most of all he doesn’t try to be her knight in shining armour. He knows she can protect herself and he lets her do just that. Although, it’s clear he does’t want to her to get in any harm.
Hard to deal with themes are presented well to build sympathy and character development
There are some scenes in From Blood and Ash which are a little harder and heavier on the heart. Poppy has been orphaned. Her parents were attacked and murdered but her and her brother escaped. During this attack Poppy was facially disfigured which is hidden most of the time because of the veil she has to wear. For the last few years she has been living with the Duke and Duchess, away from the heart of the kingdom and the Queen of Solis who made her the maiden. The Duke is incredibly cruel to her. There is a humiliating scene where he and one of the ascended lords beat her with a cane just for being who she is. It’s really horrible and her strength and resolve really shines through in those moments. From Blood and Ash has a few harder to read scenes but they are dealt with well, not too graphically but enough to build sympathy with the character and provide understanding and reasoning for certain actions.
From Blood and Ash has a death that will make you cry
Throughout the series we see how important Vikter is to Poppy. He trains her to defend herself, he tries to make her life more passable than it is. I feel we don’t get the full story with him because of his death. I feel like he might have tried to get Poppy away somehow maybe. It frustrates me that he didn’t do more to stop the Duke but then I also think he thought if he did defy the Duke he would be replaced and then who would look after Poppy? You really feel Poppy’s pain from this throughout the second half of the book and even in A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire. His death comes at a time when the rise is under attack and later, Poppy blames Hawke for this.
The slow burn romance and sexual tension
This is done so well. The romance is seductive and steamy and written well. Poppy is curious which allows her to be confident despite feeling like she’ll be clumsy. Hawke very obviously knows what he’s doing. More men need to read seductive sex scenes and fantasy romance books by women because it focuses on female pleasure and we all need more of that. The scene in the blood forest where no clothes are removed is probably one of the steamiest things I’ve ever read!
The slow burn romance adds to the sexual tension and build up of the relationship which is just so good. It also really makes you feel conflicted during the big reveal where you find out who Hawke really is because he’s hot and sexy but also has done some pretty bad things.
But that’s the thing that does frustrate me with Poppy a little bit. I don’t think Hawke lied to her all that much, apart from his true identity and I feel her frustration and anger and “hatred” of him is a bit unjustified. But then she’s young and she feels betrayed and her whole world has been turned upside down. Anger at Hawke, or now we know, Casteel is the only thing she can really control after he reveals who he is.
I just loved this book
Obviously having read the second one I’m trying to keep to the contents just of From Blood and Ash but it’s tough. I really loved it though. It was just such a page turner. I really loved the world building through this and the fact that there is all sorts of mythology surrounding the story. There are plenty of narrative hooks to keep you going like why was the duke so cruel? Who is Hawke? Who was the first maiden? Why were Poppy’s parents missing? Why is Poppy the maiden? What happens at the ascension? What really happened to Ian, Poppy’s brother?
I love how the end of the book answers pretty much all of these questions and then right on the last page it ends with Casteel telling Poppy they’re going to get married. And then the book ends and you’re just like what, you can’t leave it there? You don’t really see Poppy’s reaction until the second book so it’s just keeps you wanting to find out more. The pacing is good, it was a little slow at first and is clearly in two parts of before the battle and then after the battle. The transition is really seamless and done with enough conflict to warrent a change of pace and narrative.
One of my goals for 2020 is to read 52 books or around one a week. Some might be new, some are ones I’ve had for a while or been meaning to read, some I haven’t quite finished yet and some will be recommendations from others. You can see all the books I’ve read so far on my Good Reads 2020 Reading Challenge.