PARANORMAL/FANTASY ROMANCE

[BOOK REVIEW] From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout [Blood and Ash #1)

“You’re an absolutely stunning, murderous little creature.”

What a wonderful surprise it was to see this book being published. I always love reading Jennifer L. Armentrout and was so excited to find out how this new story has turned out, especially seeing how excited she herself is about the book. Today I’ll share my review with you guys! As the quote on the Header Image might suggest; I definitely liked reading this book! But… I didn’t give it the highest rating on Goodreads and I’ll explain why. If you want to know more about what I thought about this read, please continue…

A Maiden

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.

A Duty

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.

A Kingdom

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.

Was this book perfectly executed from beginning till end? I don’t think so. It took me a bit to get completely engrossed by it in the beginning for example, because the writing wasn’t 100% what I was expecting. Armentrout’s writing is a bit more elaborate in this one; longer sentences for example and because of that, it took me a couple of chapters before I felt at ease with this way of writing. But from then on it was a really fast-paced read. Maybe I should’ve expected this kind of writing, because it was supposedly being ‘put out there’ as a High-Fantasy, but in all honesty; to me it’s more comparable to any other ‘typical Paranormal Romance’ book that I’ve read. I don’t mean this in a bay way, because PNR is one of my all-time favorite sub-genres, but I just don’t think this book is an epic high fantasy so that bothers me a bit when I see everone raving about this epic high fantasy book by Armentrout that’s published, lol. But ok… On to the review. There’s a lot I want to talk about and most of it is positive hihi;)

“Some truths do nothing but destroy and decay what they do not obliterate. Truths do not always set one free. Only a fool who has spent their entire life being fed lies believes that.”

The story is set in an interesting paranormal world that remains a bit mysterious in the first part of the book. I loved learning more and more about it. I think the set up of it all is really great. A lot of it reminds me a bit of books I’ve read by Lexi C. Foss (Immortal Curse), Sarah J. Maas (ACOTAR) and Amelia Hutchins (Fae Chronicles) albeit with some other paranormal elements. Jen definitely gave her own twist on it all so it was still really refreshing. In general, there’s a good amount of politics, world building and story build up throughout the book, as well as good character developments and romance development, which was all really well executed.

“From Blood and Ash
We Will Rise!”

The set of characters is interesting and especially towards the end, when we were introduced to more characters who’ll probably play a bigger minor role in the next installment, I was even more intruiged.

I love the main character Poppy (have to be honest here and say that it took me a very long time to get used to this name. I really don’t like it haha. Still don’t, but it was bearable when I got farter into the story, lol) a lot, even though she’s quite gullible < which can be explained. There’s this ‘youthful and innocence’ thing she has going on, but in the meantime she’s definitely aware of how the world works, the darkness and ugliness that’s present and tried to be as much a part of it all as she’s able to. She’s definitely no damsel in distress, despite her lack of experience in some things and her not being able to fully live her life to the fullest thus far. As a person she’s being held back and being put into this role as the Maiden/the Chosen one ever since she was a young girl (which means she really can’t do anything; not allowed to socialize or venture into the world beyond and more things like that. She’s being opressed.) I loved seeing her starting to choose for herself more and more and deciding that she wants to live, consequences be damned. I cannot wait to see how she’ll develop even more so in the next installment.

I knew what the consequences could be. I knew what I was, and what was expected of me, and I knew I could no longer be that. It wasn’t what I wanted in life. It had never been my choice.
But this…this I wanted.
Hawke was who I wanted.
This was my choice.

There’s a huge psychological aspect Jennifer put into her writing, regarding the character development of Poppy. Poppy’s way of upbringing as ‘the Maiden/the Chosen one’ has a huge impact on this characters life and she’s suffered silently throughout the years, physically and emotionally. I like that even though she wasn’t allowed to do much of anything really, she decided to take matters into her own hands and tried to fight the system a bit, whenever she could. But even though it’s explainable, it was still a bitter pill to swallow to see Poppy being so gullible from time to time. She’s definitely strong in her own way, which I loved about her, but I still don’t like the fact that she doesn’t SEE through anything at all, remains being this typical innocent virgin, and is then completely baffled by the twists toward the end that she of course neeeeever saw coming – but I saw them really early on. The hints aren’t really subtle written into it I have to say haha. I can understand the WHY behind it; why she didn’t see some things sooner and the way she reacts to other things (because she was so desperate to have someone love her for who she is instead of what she is and I can truly understand that you miss some not so subtle details that are right in front of you the whole time haha), but I just think that it didn’t 100% fit her character when seeing in comparison, how beautifully her character development was written down in general.

Because of the fact that there’s a lot of focus on Poppy’s development, accompanied by quite a lot of inner monologue, it can feel a bit slow-paced at times. At the same time, it was still a fast-paced read. Strange right? But what can I say? It sometimes just felt like the storyline devleopment like the build up towards a plot, went a bit slow but in the meantime I kept devouring page after page, because I also really loved the amount of focus on Poppy’s development – Armentrout’s psychology background is really palpable in this one and I love it when she puts that out there < just as she so wonderfully did in ‘If there’s no tomorrow’.

He lifted his chin, kissing my forehead. He leaned back, sliding his thumb along my jaw. “You deserve so much more than what awaits you.”

Hawke is a character I really liked from the very beginning and he got only more and more interesting the furter I got along. This is a character in which you get that feeling of ‘there’s more than meets the eye’ and I loved peeling of layer by layer and learn more about him. He was cocky, charming, alluring and had this whole dangerous/dark vibe going on – how could I not get hooked?! I really love how Armentrout made him into this Hero who’s sometimes also a cocky Alpha male but someone who also doesn’t hold Poppy back and won’t overstep boundaries. A truly well balanced out and interesting male character, who seems to be a good counterpart to our main character Poppy.

I can’t get into detail much about some of the minor characters unfortunately, because then I’d have to talk a lot about the last part of the book and I don’t want to spoil. Some characters are present right from the start; some really likeable and some are true bastards, brr < and I love it when characters make me feel this way haha. Those villainious characters are needed and in this case they truly added depth to the character development of Poppy mostly. Some characters are introduced later on and I feel a bit sad that we didn’t get more on them because they were all a lot of fun to read about. They gave me that typical SQUAD VIBE that you’ve come across in similar books like Sarah’s Inner Circle, etc, and I cannot wait to read more about them.

“Death is like an old friend who pays a visit, sometimes when it’s least expected and other times when you’re waiting for her. It’s neither the first nor the last time she’ll pay a visit, but that doesn’t make any death less harsh or unforgiving.”

As I said, I thought this Forbidden romance was very well executed and had a tremendous amount of depth and development. Truthfully; I wasn’t expecting any less by this author. It’s the perfect amount of sexy, intense and sweet and I love that Jennifer has delivered on that part yet again. The chemistry between the characters is very well done and it was a joy to explore and follow this romance development. If you love forbidden romance, this one is definitely going to leave you hot & bothered in the best way possible! Be prepared to get scorched!

CONCLUSION

I couldn’t help but shiver when his eyes finally met mine.
“You’re so damn beautiful,” he whispered, his voice thick. “And so damn unexpected.”

Overall, I think that this was a fun first book in a new series. But I’ll be honest as well and… Armentrout hasn’t really blown me away with it though, not in the way that she’s done with the 5-star rating readers and the way I was hoping. Maybe this is because I often read a lot of similar books and I’ve become a bit more critical? Not sure haha. I felt this way with Crescent Ctiy by Sarah J. Maas as well – exactly the same; first part was interesting to read, but not truly impressive yet. But then it went off like a rocket and got really good towards the end. I truly love that these authors are branching out into this sub-genre. It was always a interesting read right from the start though, so don’t get me wrong; the world building and the character development was really great, but the story-line and plot progression just went a bit slow for my taste in the beginning.

“Some truths do nothing but destroy and decay what they do not obliterate. Truths do not always set one free. Only a fool who has spent their entire life being fed lies believes that.”

But the entire build up towards the end in general, and the promise of what’s to come in the next installment seeing the way it all ended, was really well done I think and makes it overall a really fun and entertaining read. The story was mostly always compelling and engaging with Armentrout’s imaginative writing. Finishing this book left me craving more and that’s the way you want to end a book: feeling like you haven’t nearly gotten enough of it yet and want to continue reading RIGHT NOW. I truly cannot wait to read about new settings/new parts of the world we’re about to explore in the next installment, as well as read more about these characters, more plot and story-line and more romance. I definitely recommend reading this book if you’re into fantasy/paranormal romance!

Thanks for reading!!

With Love, Melissa

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