Book Review: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This book review of FBAA basically states I finally found 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. This time, the “BookTok made me do it” is not a regretful statement.

(Review is relatively spoiler-free.)

Book Review of FBAA by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From Blood and Ash official cover art
From Blood and Ash official cover art

My rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Summary: 18-year-old Poppy is the Maiden. In the Kingdom of Solis, it means the Gods chose her. Until her Ascension, no one can see her, let alone touch her. Poppy must remain guarded nearly all the time. When a mysterious creature slaughters her guard before her Ascension, the Duke assigns Hawke, someone she’s always known from afar, with guarding her until said Ascension.

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Audience: New Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: religious zealotry, dubious consent, murder, gore, explicit sex

A Split Narrative

I started this book knowing very little about it; all I knew was that it was a much-hyped book. I can’t say I disagree; this book delivered what it promised. The only reason I’m not giving it 5 stars is that it felt like reading two stories at the same time.

The first half of the book solely focused on world-building. There were 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 RPGs, 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 Poppy 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 relatable. I also think that Chapter 2 was just to bait the reader in search of potential romance. Hawke appears 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. In fact, she broke the rules she should follow a long time ago.

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. It quite relieved me to see that the author didn’t over-romanticize sexual intercourse. I didn’t get the part where the characters mention some sort of contraception, though. It’s something I’ve read in other fantasy books as well… and I stopped trying to find logic. This place has electricity in certain areas. And people talk about hormones.

That aside, I think the author handled the action scenes well. Although I saw the big revelation coming from the moment Poppy lost her guard, it was still enjoyable.

I’ll definitely read the sequel. Overall, this is a good book, worth the time (and money).

Is FBAA cringeworthy?

I wasn’t into the whole stuttering that was going on when Poppy was having an inner monologue; the writing is full of ellipses and repetitions and often, the chapter breaks mean nothing. We follow every single day of her life without a single pause, and that is honestly not my cup of tea. The writing could use a bit more polishing.

I do have to agree with people who say the romantic lines can be very cheesy, and I feel like some pet names or comparisons weren’t necessary (*coughs* Princess *coughs* honeydew *coughs*). Other than that, this book fits the New Adult genre perfectly. It’s a light, enjoyable read, and though I love me some more epic world-building, I understand this is not the book for it.

Attempts at People of Color (PoC) Representation: Not Convinced

To end this book review of FBAA, I’d say that maybe, in the future, the author can avoid naming the PoC best friend of the main character after their skin color (*coughs* Tawny *coughs*)… This book came out in 2020; we should be way past the stereotypical naming.

The sequel to From Blood and Ash is A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire. Read my review here!