Finally, a fantasy romance that I could connect with. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout is a novel that I didn’t expect was going to have vampires in it but it sure was a great surprise! This time, the “BookTok made me do it” is not a regretful statement. This book is indie published, so that’s already a plus for me.
Image from Amazon
⭐⭐⭐⭐: really liked it
I started this book knowing very little about it; all I knew was that it was a much-hyped book and that the general consensus was that it was well-written. I can’t say I disagree; this book delivered what it promised and the only reason I’m not giving it 5 stars is that it felt like reading two different books at the same time.
From Blood And Ash is the story of Penellaphe (how we go from that name to the nickname Poppy is still a mystery to me), a girl raised to become a Maiden, some sort of special child that the gods need for the survival of the Kingdom of Solis. The problem is that she isn’t very sure about what it means and what this Ascension is supposed to be. The first half of the book is solely dedicated to world-building, with many descriptions and some interactions between Poppy and her entourage. I particularly liked her relationship with Vikter, the Royal Guard who is a second father to her. I think that was spot-on and believable. The world the author depicts reminded me a lot of an epic RPG, and it’s a shame there was no map at the beginning of the book. I would have loved that.
The downside to this slow first half of the book is that between the first-person narrative and the lack of conflict (even inner conflict, considering she voices her real feelings about the Ascension much later on) it was extremely hard to get into the story. I don’t find Poppy to be particularly relatable and I also think that chapter 2 was just to bait the reader in search of potential romance because the romantic interest is introduced then, only to disappear for over a hundred pages. I didn’t see the point of introducing him at that moment. He seems to stir something in Poppy, but we learn that her rebellious nature has little to do with him because she’s been breaking the rules she should be following a long time ago. I am also not into the whole stuttering that’s going on when she is having an inner monologue; the writing is full of “…” and repetitions and quite often, the chapter breaks mean nothing. We follow every single day of her life without a single break and that is honestly not my cup of tea.
By the time you reach the second half of the book, it’s like a tumble that turns into an endless roll down a steep road. It just doesn’t stop and that is a plus for me. I binged the second half of the book and I was quite relieved to see that the author didn’t over-romanticize sexual intercourse. I didn’t quite get the part where some sort of contraception is mentioned, but that’s something I’ve read in other fantasy books as well, and I stopped trying to find logic when the world we’re in has “sometimes electricity” and even “hormones”. That aside, I think the author handled the action scenes well, and although I saw the big reveal coming from the moment Poppy lost her guard, it was still enjoyable and entertaining.
I’ll definitely read the sequel. Overall, this is a good book, worth the time (and money!).
Armentrout is at times criticized for the many ellipses and I’ve seen some nasty reviews about her “terrible” writing style but quite frankly, I have to disagree with most of those. The book is written from Poppy’s POV and I think the writing fits the character’s personality. She is a little clumsy and a bit hesitant on several things so I don’t think the style the author uses is bad in this context.
I do have to agree with the people who say the romantic lines can be very cheesy, and I feel like some pet names could be avoided (*coughs*Princess*coughs*) but other than that, this book fits the New Adult genre perfectly. It’s a light, enjoyable read, and though I do love me some more epic world-building, I understand this is not the kind of book meant for it.
Tawny the PoC, really?
Honestly? I am still hooked. This is a series I can’t wait to binge, and the characters are just so endearing to me. Maybe in the future, the author can avoid naming the PoC best friend of the main character after their skin color (*coughs*Tawny*coughs*)… but other than that, I don’t feel like this book has any major let-down, which is really appreciated. Watch out for my review of Book Two!