Book: From Blood and Ash
Series: Blood and Ash Book #1
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
622 pages, ebook
First published March 29, 2020
A month ago, Teddy @black.swan.blog and I decided to do an interesting challenge. Each month we pick a few books that take us out of our comfort zone and you vote and choose what we’ll read that month.
For the month of June, we were chosen to read “From Blood and Ash” by Jennifer L. Armentrout to read, and here’s what we got… There might be spoilers 😉
Favourite part of the book From Blood and Ash:
black.swan.blog: the last sentence of the book 😀 No kidding. Those who have read it know it.
But let’s just say that what made the book enjoyable to read was the history of the world, and more specifically one particular part – Atlantia. The mysterious land, the fate of its people and its prince. It’s very reminiscent of another story of its kind, but we can safely sweep that under the carpet. That’s where it hit me on the romantic soul.
Readtrolls: when I thought of the questions I didn’t want to answer. For the people who follow us, I know I’ve a penchant for aggression because whenever an author decides to kill off some of the characters out of the blue, it makes the biggest impression on me. I liked the hint of cruelty I felt in the story. Jennifer definitely doesn’t shy away from sowing death and I liked that. My favourite moment was the battle in the palace where several people met their deaths.
The most unnerving part of the book “From Blood and Ash”:
black.swan.blog: The most annoying part is some there aren’t 300 pages filled with a big nothing or tortured, “exciting” filler scenes. I should note that I consider myself a patient person who has a certain fondness for descriptions and any details that make me more familiar with the world and characters. Especially if they’re well written. Not so here. I didn’t understand the rhythm of the plot and that was it.
Readtrolls: Abe I don’t think there was that much filler. The story was easy to read and I didn’t have a dull moment. However… if I hear the salutation “princess” one more time, I’m really going to stake the person who said it. Terribly irritating form of address. The other thing I’ll call annoying is the animal lust that manifests itself at a later point in the story. There was a point where I thought I’d caught a Sarah J. Maas book…
What did you think of the author’s writing style
black.swan.blog: The narration beats it. It’s something that makes an immediate impression when you start the book. I was quickly introduced to the world (well, admittedly, it’s not very big) and the story, which I really enjoyed. But still, straight stories about the plight of the country and the mission of our protagonist Poppy tend to come across as lacking momentum. Let me use my “favourite” expression”: there is potential, but it’s not properly exploited.
lesetrolls: I agree with Teddy here. The story has potential, but it also reminds me too much of other characters and plots. Armentrout didn’t spend much time describing the world and didn’t fully build the mystery of Atlantia. It’s not complicated, and it’s a somewhat predictable and trite story. But I’d appreciate an easy read and there is a lot of humour in the way she writes. For fans of light reading, the book is definitely worth reading.
Memorable sentences or scenes.
black.swan.blog: There was a moment towards the end of the book and Poppy’s encounter with the Dark One… where she was supposedly mortally wounded herself and says to herself, “I’ll die a coward.” I laughed out loud for a few minutes and thought that was it. hahahah. Now don’t get any ideas. I liked Poppy as a character. Her character is carefully built and she’s definitely not a boring badass throat, nothing that’s totally cliché. But there were a few (dozen) moments where Armentrout decided to replace all of her character’s brain cells with pink starch.
Readtrolls: The book itself isn’t exactly characterised by philosophical musings. But if I had to coin a phrase, I’d refer to Hawke’s words about death.
“Death is like an old friend who visits you, sometimes when you least expect it, and sometimes when you’re waiting for it. It’s neither the first nor the last time he visits us, but that doesn’t make death any less hard and merciless.”
Will you be reading another book by the author?
black.swan.blog: Jennifer Armentrout is a good storyteller and I might pick up her other books. Someday.
readingtrolls: This was my first book by the author, and although the ending was quite clichéd, I think I might be tempted to continue the story. I liked the battles and that she didn’t go to the trouble of sowing death. I’m not a fan of magical healing and would appreciate it if Armentrout didn’t overdo it.
The biggest surprise in the plot
black.swan.blog: …was that there were almost no surprises.
readtrolls: I’m pointing out the end of the book, but I’m not saying it in the best way. It’s too clichéd and I didn’t expect that’s exactly what the author was going for. I was hoping it would leave readers in eager anticipation for the sequel, but apparently she didn’t expect there to be one :D.
What would change in the plot of “From Blood and Ash”?
black.swan.blog. And the way it’ll surely appeal to all lovers of fantasy romances and “enemies to lovers” techniques. Finally, the focus was on the love story between our protagonist (whose only chapter we’re in), Poppy, and Hawke, her newly appointed bodyguard who breaks all sorts of sexapillometers.
Forbidden love has always been front and centre – in songs, plays, books, films, TV shows and so on. And I’d have kept this thread in the plot a little longer… before picking the so-called forbidden fruit. Otherwise the point of the idea just gets lost. Also, Poppy’s image and personality, given her fate as a child, suggest that she’s like a blank canvas for the author to swirl around nicely and build more and more, rather than describing her sometimes as if a redneck drank her brains out. But what do I understand. It’s possible that Poppy will evolve and change in the other books. I hope so.
Readtrolls: I’d be crueller with the characters. I’d play them off against each other a bit more, for example. Yes, the book touched on the theme of forbidden love, but the characters were treated very lightly. Armentrout should have made the readers care a little more before giving them the happy ending. Another thing I’d use and expand on is her sense of duty to her family and her people. They both come from different places and have different beliefs and faiths. They each feel a sense of duty to their cause and duty to their loved ones. I’d utilise that too…
Did you guess the ending of the book and at what point.
black.swan.blog: With very few exceptions, I was made aware of the mystery surrounding Atlantia and the Dark One long before the middle. I don’t need a crystal ball to predict what will follow in book number two.
The Dark One… but why do so many authors call their supposed villains that.
Readtrolls: the story is painfully familiar. Forbidden love, two young people who are supposed to hate each other but fall in love, etc. etc. It was all obvious and predictable to me, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting this ending. I thought something more complicated would happen, or at least they’d break up and hate each other…
Is Overreid’s book “From Blood and Ash”
black.swan.blog: In my opinion, yes. There are already too many romantic fantasy books of this type on the market and that doesn’t make it particularly original. Aside from the weak (slow) moments in it, I’m far from the expression “Wow, this book left me breathless and speechless”. That doesn’t make it bad. But I wouldn’t put it in a top ranking either.
Readtrolls: We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “there are readers for every book”. I don’t want to badmouth it, because I really did find it an easy book, and I love reboots with those. But I don’t find anything that sets it apart from other books with a plot like this. If this is your first book with such a twist, I’m sure it’ll make a bigger impression on you than it did on me, and YES, I’m calling it an over-read.
Reminds me of other books?
black.swan.blog: Let me ask you something. Does the “chosen” heroine with seemingly mystical, supernatural gifts and a special mission/destiny remind you of other books? Mmm. I’ll give you another teaser – the creatures attacking the town called “freaks” looked a lot like some of the other creatures that attacked the humans when they entered what looked like a sea of shadows… and if you don’t get it now, I’ll mention the name used for our so-called antagonist – the Dark One.
But all isn’t lost. Armentrout has managed to create an interesting mythology for vampires and werewolves. I hadn’t heard anything like it before, you see. A miracle.
Readtrolls: But I hate it when one book reminds me so much of another. I find a few elements here that trigger that discomfort for me, and the cheesy plot isn’t one of them. Firstly, I say the things that wander through the fog… I immediately think of a couple of already familiar stories with a similar motif: Game of Thrones, The Living Dead… The second thing that bothered me was the wall that protects them.
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.
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.
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.