From Blood and Ash by Jennifer Armentrout: A Review !!
This book was a great pick up! So I have a history of reading the blurb on the backs of books and deciding then and there whether or not I was going to want to read said book. Well this one was sitting in my TBR pile for awhile because I thought the blurb was interesting but it didn’t PULL me in. Then the people in my book club pushed me to start this book and it’s been one heck of a ride ever since! I’ll drop the info for said club if you’re interested in joining at the end of this review. So I am not going to really break this book into parts because it is very well paced and there isn’t really a distinctive change in most of it. I would describe this book as Fantasy and Romance. Let’s get started~
Poppy is our main character and I definitely like her. She reminds me of how I would handle myself if I was put in this situation. Immediately we learn that she is someone who is supposed to be seen as sacred so this kind of inhibits her from living her best life. She can’t talk to people and she must always be veiled. She has one friend, Tawny, and one father figure ,Vikter. Her parents are dead and her brother, Ian, doesn’t live near her and she hasn’t been able to speak with him in awhile. This land is ruled by people known as the Ascended. We come to learn that they are essentially vampires. Poppy has a habit of sneaking around and being in places that she shouldn’t be since she lives a life that is so restricted. She feels like she wants the opportunity to get out and LIVE. I definitely can see why she feels this way. She must do what other people deems perfect in order to not “ruin” herself. This story seems to be placed in like a 1800s-1900s time period. They don’t have a lot of technological advances and also have the dress code and mentality of the people of those eras. This definitely comes into play with how things are reacted to and spoken about. First, major event in this book happens pretty quickly. Poppy, escapes her “handlers” and goes to a brothel to see what happens there. Here we see her run into Vikter, which this is the last place you’d want to run into your father figure. She manages to hide from him and runs into a room which she didn’t know was occupied until she actually looks around and finds a man. This encounter with this man helps shape the tone of the entire book. His name is Hawke and he is a guard that every lady has had the hots for lately. Poppy is surprised to run into him. She of course has a mask on so that no one would know that it was her that was there. She ends up kissing him and having a most scandalous encounter that ends up getting interrupted by someone who was there with Hawke. Immediately my romance novel expertise came to play and I knew that he was going to be her main love interest and that this was far from the last time that we will see him. Our MC enjoys the moments alone sometimes when she doesn’t have to posture and pretend, so with one of her guards in tow she goes to view some flowers in the garden of the castle that she lives in. Someone tries to kill her but only manage to kill her guard while getting embarrassed by Poppy, who has some skills thanks to Vikter. This prompts the need for another personal guard. So of course, in comes our hunk of man Hawke. Now being that she is the Maiden only a few people are allowed to ever see her unveiled. Her personal guards and maids, the Duke and Duchess of the castle that she is staying in and the Queen and King of the country. So she has to reveal herself to her new personal guard and she nervously hopes that he doesn’t recognize her. One thing that Poppy is very conscious of is her face. She has a few scars from being attacked when she was younger. In this world there are these mindless creatures that eat people called Craven. Her parents were killed in this attack and she was severely scarred. So while revealing her face to Hawke, she was ready for a reaction of disgust but instead he called her beautiful, despite what others in the room said at the time. Now starts our love story. Since Hawke is now her personal guard he has to be around her and as such he begins to get to know her better and she him. She almost immediately starts falling for him. They have stolen moments here and there, nothing major because as The Maiden, she is expected to remain exactly that.
This next part I guess you can call a pivot from where we were previously because things start to happen very quickly. One of the maids that works in the castle gets murdered, which starts some unrest in the castle because everyone is afraid that maybe someone is an undercover Craven or something crazy (the Craven are mindless creatures so unsure where this idea started). So quick plot info drop to help this next part make sense, the country is currently ruled by the Ascended but there is another country known as Atlantia. These two countries were in a major war with each other not too long ago. Atlantians are seen as evil to the people of Solis, the nation that we are in. Their prince is known as the Dark One and anyone who supports him being the actual ruler of the land are known as Descenters. Anyone who is believed to be a Descenter is usually killed by the Ascended. Also there are the Ascended have told everyone that they have received their powers directly from the gods. Every few years they allow a ceremony that allows regular mortals to become Ascended. There are also mortals who live in Solis, who are generally the working people who are led by the Ascended. Now back to the story, the Descenters revolt against the Ascended one night while wearing masks. They manage to kill the Duke, or so we believe. Everyone moves to protect Poppy, including Vikter and later Hawke. Vikter unfortunately dies and Poppy ends up murdering one of the Ascended who had been torturing her. The Ascended are able to put down the uprising and the next day the decision is made to send Poppy to the capital where the Queen lives to make sure that she is safe. Of course who better to escort her than her personal guard Hawke and team he makes up of men he believes can make the trip quickly. While traveling they run into some Craven who kill a man. Secondary info drop- Poppy has the power to read people’s emotions and she can also feed them emotions at will if she is touching them. So when this man is dying Poppy is able to ease him into death. This fascinates everyone in the group because they had never seen something like this. They pull into a town for a break and Hawke and some of his men are greeted as though they are known despite them saying they’d never been there before. Poppy decides that night that she’d do anything for Hawke and ends up giving up the draws. In the morning one of her soldiers who are loyal to the Ascended burst into her room and say something is weird about this place AND Hawke. So they intend to run while they can. Instead they get intercepted by Kieran, which is Hawkes BFF. He turns into a wolf right in front of Poppy and kills some of the guards. Then Hawke shows up and tells Poppy he wishes it didn’t have to be this way, then proceeds to kill the guard who came to get Poppy. Poppy is all kinds of confused at this point and learns that not only is the guy she has fallen in love with a dirty Decenter but he’s the biggest one of them all, The Dark One, Prince of Atlantia. Poor Poppy has to reconcile her feelings with the fact that she believes he’s the reason that Vikter is now dead and he’s the boogeyman that she has been led to believe is evil. He comes to talk to her about it and they argue then somehow end up banging each other in the snow. Yup you read that right. They had sexy time in the freaking SNOW. No clothes, just skin and ice. Fast forward to the end of the book, Poppy is angry at Hawke AKA Casteel, Prince of Atlantia and is dealing with the revelations of who he really is but is just as shocked as we the readers are when he then asks her to marry him. End book.
It was a wild ride from the beginning to the end. There is so much more detail that you can find out if you decide to read this story. I covered most of the main things but whew. My book club burned through this book in about 3 weeks. We were supposed to read 10 chapters a week but definitely ended up devouring the book in much less time. Overall I give this book a 4 out of 5. I would definitely recommend it!!
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