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.
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Imagine throwing in the most addictive parts of paranormal romance books and high fantasy… that baby would be this book, FROM BLOOD AND ASH. If you get get through the heavy monologues and repetitive thoughts of the first half of the book (kudos to Poppy’s first person POV), the book proves to be an entertaining read. But borrowing elements of your standard paranormal books out there make the ‘big twists’ underwhelming. Then again, who reads Armentrout when you’re NOT looking for a special snowflake and a broody love interest? (Also, characters noting the beauty of special snowflake and love interest at least more than 5 times in the book.)
Poppy is definitely a special snowflake but her character was fleshed out as we see her growing from someone who is stuck in a cage to someone who makes her own decisions, which was admirable. She lost her parents from these creatures called Craven (evil creatures) at a young age and is under the supervision of the nobles of where she lives until she Ascends. The world is extensive and more than a bit confusing in the beginning, but it goes a little like: (I’m also using this for future reference)
Ascended: immortal-like nobility who somehow have powers but don’t really use them for anything. They only accept second sons/daughters for a reason never explained in the book. Once they ascend they basically play courtiers and other useless roles of nobility. The main character Poppy is waiting to Ascend on her 19th birthday, which is coming up in less than a year and she’s Super Special because of a mysterious gift, and called a Maiden bc she was attacked by Craven when she was little and survived the attack. Maiden = Chosen One, FYI.
Descended: basically anyone against ascended people. Rebels? (Tbh I skimmed the part she was explaining this on accident lol)
The Dark One: another Special Snowflake who is the prince of Atlantians who are against the Ascended. He’s ~~~evil~~~. (Also never given a reason why he’s called Dark bc umm not a POC, from all accounts? Come on sis, you can name better than that.)
Atlantians: they’re just like… pure vampires. With some twists on their abilities.
Vampyrs: not pure vampires.
Wolven: y’all… I don’t want to insult your intelligence.
There are a bunch of randomly placed gods and goddesses that add absolutely no substance to the actual story except make a more atmospheric setting… and even then, I could not tell you any of their names. At some point Poppy’s POV was describing all the paintings or something of gods and it went on for a full paragraph and I didn’t read any of it, I just stared at the paragraph as a selective whole and marveled at how the author and editors thought it was okay to put all these useless descriptors in one paragraph.
Don’t recommend you to read, just look at the paragraph and you’ll see what I mean.
“The hand-painted ceiling was the true masterpiece of the Great Hall. Above, all the gods could be seen watching over us. Ione and Rhahar. The flaming redheaded Aios, the Goddess of Love, Fertility, and Beauty. Saion, the dark-skinned God of the Sky and the Soil—he was Earth, Wind, and Water. Beside him was Theon, the God of Accord and War, and his twin Lailah, the Goddess of Peace and Vengeance. The dark-haired Goddess of the Hunt, Bele, armed with her bow. There was Perus, the pale, white-haired God of the Rite and Prosperity. Beside him was Rhain, the God of the Common Man and Endings. And then there was my namesake, Penellaphe, the Goddess of Wisdom, Loyalty, and Duty—which I found highly ironic. All their faces were captured in striking, vivid detail—all but Nyktos, the King of all the gods, who had made the first Blessing. His face and form were nothing but brilliant silvery moonlight.”
I know you have to do your due diligence with world-building, but come on… those descriptions will go in one ear and out the other.
Hawke, the love interest, was exactly what I guessed within the first half of the book. He was supposed to be brooding and enigmatic, and I guess that was executed well. I appreciated the detail of Poppy realizing he was the reward for finding her independence, and not the catalyst. You go girl. I think my biggest complaint was that he ends up hurting Poppy in the book and doesn’t apologize vocally, which is fine, but ridiculous. A lot of tension would have been mitigated if he communicated with Poppy more towards the end and I do believe his characterization lagged in general throughout the story. His two moods were brooding guard with an angsty past, or playful seducer who got turned on when Poppy was violent. Overall: He was cute, but nothing special.
The first half of the book was slow and got me exceptionally frustrated. Readers who can sludge through will appreciate the action and pace of the latter half. I do have to say, the motives for characters got very very messy towards the end of the book (part of it was lack of communication mentioned above tbh) and I think Armentrout had a hard time balancing the advancement of the plot and sexual gratuity for the readers. There were sex scenes inserted during this page period that weren’t situationally sensitive, and dealing with lustful emotions, as well as the overarching storyline emotions, made everything messy. I think most readers will overlook that fact because “Lordy Lordy anotha sex scene whewwwww *fans self*,” and I was ALMOST one of them, but the lack of characterization depth (and vulnerability in general) of Hawke made me not care as much for that stuff. So.
I recommended this for Armentrout fan and fans of more immaturely written fantasy romances (immature as in character actions, aligning those actions with actual motives, and in general if you’re okay with a girl thinking with her erogenous zones rather than her brain). Also if you like the sound of a blended paranormal creatures + fantasy setting. Looking back, nothing in this book is new AT ALL (from the names to the descriptors), but the author blends it well to make it SEEM like it’s unique and refreshing. And yeah, that’s pretty commendable because you can enjoy your normal guilty pleasures through a fresh perspective. It was an entertaining read and had a cliffhanger ending, so there’s lots more to be explored in the world (and I’m pretty sure I predicted some key elements).
sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, death of loved ones, grief, heavy violence and gore