From Blood And Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout

From Blood And Ash by Jennifer L ArmentroutFrom Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Blood and Ash #1
Published by Blue Box Press
Published on 30 March 2020
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, New Adult
Pages: 622
Format: eBook
Source: my local library
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RRP: $31.99
3 Stars

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.

Let me preface this by saying that if you can get over the staggeringly slow start, past the shockingly bad worldbuilding, and through the molasses of a character whose life is so bland and boring she makes Auren from the Plated Prisoner series almost look like she’s actually doing something with her life (besides wandering around a war camp for an entire book – and no, I will NOT get over that), and actually make it to about 60% through when things FINALLY started getting good, then you might enjoy the last third of this book as much as I did. Which was a lot. I’m giving it 3 stars because I had to make it two-thirds through before I was started really enjoying it, and nearly three-quarters through until I was invested.

From what I could gather, Poppy is a super special chosen from birth girl called the Maiden, forced to wear a mask, and white clothes, and no one is supposed to look at her or speak to her (but everyone totally breaks these rules ALL THE TIME), yet she is given free reign of the palace or castle or whatever it is where she lives. Don’t ask me how she got educated enough to be smart if no one’s supposed to speak to her. The problem is, she is incredibly horny for this one guy who is her new personal guard. And that’s literally when I was seriously considering DNFing – about one quarter of the way through. Poppy is so precious and special, yet she’s also physically abused. There are a bunch of other people chosen to do the same thing as her, but she’s the super special one no one is allowed to talk to or even look at, she’s not allowed to wear makeup, and she’s not even told what her destiny is?

I didn’t actually mind the writing itself for the most part. I did skip a few pages here and there when it was just Poppy alone, thinking to herself, with no dialogue, because GOD I just didn’t have the time for that. Poppy was basically a better version of Auren from the Plated Prisoner series (yes I will keep comparing it because it’s they’re both incredibly slow with prisoners in gilded cages being used by someone who claims to love them), and didn’t take three whole-assed books where nothing happened to realise how abused she really was. I actually liked some of Poppy’s thought processes evolving. Mostly it was that, and I just didn’t like any of the ideas coming out of JLA’s head. I didn’t like the Ascension or the Atlantians or the Rise or the Rite or the Craven, and I honestly struggled to figure out if the worldbuilding was all deliberately so vague, or if it’s just poor writing because JLA herself doesn’t know or can’t be bothered.

Basically, the only thing that made this book worth continuing was Poppy’s interactions with Hawke, this cocky arrogant, protective personal guard. I would have quit the book, but someone praised one of the spicy scenes that takes place later on, so I kept going. And yes, I agree, the scene where Poppy can’t sleep is very well written and indeed, very sexy. I also love a protective man. He was totally a walking red flag, yet his interactions with Poppy were the only good thing about this book. He said ridiculously romantic things and he had a problem with consent, especially when it came to physically lying all over Poppy – but my love language is physical touch so I actually loved those scenes. What I really enjoyed most of all was the final third of the book when View Spoiler » Like, yes girl! She’s not just TALKING about being badass, she’s SHOWING us that she is. Which is more than I can say for some of her contemporaries.

I absolutely 100% do not mind if modern language is used in a fantasy book. Here’s my logic: it’s not THIS world, real Earth in 2024. So, if words like ‘awesome’ and ‘okay’ aren’t allowed to exist, you need to think about what words are allowed to exist, and those words that are allowed to exist, where did they come from? Why isn’t everyone speaking Latin or Italian or Shakespearean English? There isn’t an equivalent timeline, because this isn’t set in the real world. Basically, these characters are not speaking English, so what we’re reading is a form of translation. They would have slang.

I also don’t care about the book being ‘predictable’. If you’re read a few books of the same genre, you SHOULD recognise how the plot beats go. It’s not fucking rocket science. This is how story structure works. You SHOULD be able to ‘predict’ it because you recognise the story beats. Like in small town romances!

So basically, for anyone who makes it past the halfway mark, I can understand why this has over half a million ratings on Goodreads. The end was spectacularly better than the beginning. I haven’t decided if I’ll continue on with the series, since certain things (relationships) have now been established and I’m unsure if I can be bothered slogging through another 600 pages for a few good scenes near the end. I may choose to continue at a later point.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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