All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: From Blood And Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

on December 10, 2020

From Blood And Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Blue Box Press
2020, 634p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

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.

Okay. I didn’t hate this….but I didn’t love it either.

It’s been blowing up on the socials lately. Everywhere I go, people were talking about it, about the romance, it was being suggested for me on various sites and it was recently announced as the Goodreads Choice Awards Winner for Best Romance. It seemed to fit the bill for the sort of read I am looking for at the moment and so I bought the first book on my kindle. I read half of it about a week ago – it’s very slow in the beginning. Slow as molasses and at about 50% I put it aside as I had a bit of a headache. Only picked it up yesterday to finish it and look, it’s better in the second half. There’s a lot of action, some (sort of) answers and some reveals that are probably supposed to be pretty shocking but I kind of already knew them so it was less so. But I had Some Issues.

The world building is annoyingly vague and at first I thought that was maybe because Poppy didn’t actually know enough about the world because she’s some sort of special snowflake known as The Maiden, chosen by the Gods. She has to be veiled, she has to remain pure, she’s basically not even allowed talk to people, even ladies in waiting. During a desire for experience, to make a choice instead of her entire future being mapped out for her, Poppy visits some sort of…brothel/gaming den? I don’t even know really and meets a man known as Hawke, one of the Royal Guard. Or some sort of Guard. Anyway he ends up on her personal guard after one of hers is murdered in front of her and even though she’s the Maiden, Poppy finds herself all sorts of tempted by Hawke. Which is good at first….but then goes tits up when she realises that Hawke is 100% not what he claimed to be and is everything she’s been taught to hate and fear. Oops.

So far, nothing groundbreaking or even terribly new. I didn’t mind Poppy and I enjoyed that she’d been taught to defend herself, although it was forbidden. There’s a scene where Poppy pretty much goes postal on someone who has long deserved it and it’s pretty awesome. She’s also subject to some pretty horrendous treatment from some sort of Duke, who seems to be the head honcho in her particular area, until the Queen recalls Poppy to the vague “Capital” for her “Ascension” into some sort of higher being. Like I said, it’s vague. I’m barely sure why she was where she was. There’s some mysterious stuff in her background, some of which sounds interesting but isn’t elaborated on here. A lot of it is about Poppy’s internal struggle with being the Maiden and how much she doesn’t really want it, and also the feelings she has for Hawke.

Which brings me to Hawke. I wasn’t really a fan. He’s cut from the cloth of fantasy romance heroes that I don’t really like that much: smirking, arrogant, stupid nicknames (in this case, Princess), the whole ‘I know you want me soooo bad’ vibe that gets on my nerves. There are things about him that are interesting and every now and then he drops that annoying personality and seems different: when he talked about his brother, etc. Towards the end he was more interesting too, when he was more a villain but with shades of a conflicted one sometimes…but then the smirking and dimples and ‘I’m so hot, you can’t help but want me even though I just murdered many people in front of you’ attitude. I really did not like that form of him and Poppy’s stupidity around him was irritating. Also he’s one of the few people who knew Poppy felt about having no agency and during the last portion of the book, he renders her completely helpless, subject to his every command and I feel he even uses something to manipulate her into having sex with him when she probably wouldn’t normally. If this is supposed to be “romance”, a lot of it felt forced and rushed. There was actually very little about it that felt romantic, especially at the end. The thing is though, he has a story I do want to know more about and when he does drop that smugness, I sort of want to know more. Because he’s conflicted too – I think Poppy was a means to an end but then things got very complicated. Towards the end I actually found Kieran more interesting. To be honest, that happens a lot to me in these sorts of books.

Despite not loving this (primarily the lack of coherent and cohesive world building and the “romance”), there was enough in here that I think I still want to read the second book to find out what happens next. They’re relatively cheap (I think like $6? $7?) for me so it won’t be too much of an investment. I’m curious about the revelations Hawke made at the end of the book and how they will shape Poppy’s future from here. I want to see if she finds her feet in this new reality and learns to battle Hawke properly.

If ever there’s a book that should be stamped with “For fans of S.J. Maas” – it’s probably this one.


Book #235 of 2020

2 responses to “Review: From Blood And Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  1. Sorry it wasn’t better. I have other books on my TBR that she’s written; looks like I’ll want to read them first.

  2. Great review! I enjoyed this book but I like how you pointed out how it was missing a bit on the fantasy aspect. I really enjoyed the whole ‘ascension’ aspect as something new and different and was a bit annoyed when the plot twist revealed that… well I don’t want to add spoilers but it was pretty generic! I really enjoyed Poppy’s character though, she was surprisingly feminist which I have to admit I wasn’t expecting from this sort of romance book haha. Here’s my review of from blood and ash 🙂

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