From Blood and Ash Review

From Blood and Ash, the first book in the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, follows Poppy, an untouchable Maiden bound to follow orders from society before her Ascension. When a new and mysterious guard, Hawke, becomes closer to Poppy, she begins to question the rigid rules thrust on her by the leaders of her land.

I picked up From Blood and Ash because it is always recommended to fans of the Court of Thorns and Roses series. While I do see some similarities, From Blood and Ash didn’t completely immerse me in the world like A Court of Thorns and Roses did. While I did enjoy aspects of From Blood and Ash, I am not completely sold on picking up the next book in the series.

One aspect of this book that readers may enjoy are the characters. Poppy and Hawke are reminiscent of many other characters in this genre, so readers may like the dynamic which plays out between them. At the same time, this makes Poppy and Hawke rather unremarkable among a sea of similar characters within the same market. If you like a female character who likes to fight and can be a little stubborn, then you will probably like Poppy. If you like a male love interest who is charming with a little edge, then you will probably like Hawke.

On the other hand, some of the interactions between Poppy and Hawke reminded me a lot of the scenes we reflect on from ten years ago and no longer view as romantic but as signs of an unhealthy relationship. I found this to mostly be true at the end of the story after a large plot twist is revealed. A lot of information is withheld from Poppy throughout the story and this overwhelming amount of information comes forward largely at the end of the book. Not only is Poppy enduring some traumatic experiences, but she is also very confused about her feelings towards Hawke, and I do not feel that Hawke respects her boundaries during this time. To me, the ending presented a very uneven power dynamic between Poppy and Hawke, which is not a type of relationship which I like to read.

As for the story itself, there were some aspects that I liked and others which could have been improved. Overall, the story was fairly easy to read. The structure of the world was easy to understand. At the same time, there weren’t many surprises as the twists were fairly easy to figure out.

Additionally, I had some issues with the pacing. From Blood and Ash reminded me of A Court of Thorns and Roses and The Winner’s Curse in some regards to story structure. For about 60-75% of the book, the story takes place in the same setting with the same characters and same social structure. Then, for the last quarter of the book, it takes place in a completely different setting with new characters introduced and a new person in charge. For me, this worked in A Court of Thorns and Roses for several reasons: we already knew a little bit about the new characters appearing on the page and after a lot of world building in the first part of the book, the action finally picked up. However, like with A Winner’s Curse, this actually did From Blood and Ash a disservice. The last quarter of this book felt too different from the rest of the book. Readers get immersed in a whole new cast of characters, a whole new power dynamic, and a whole new social structure in too short of a time. For me, it felt like this book needed a little bit of editing to end the book a little sooner and move some of the end of the book to the next book in the series so it wasn’t as rushed.

Overall, From Blood and Ash was an average read to me. I can see why readers who are a fan of this genre would pick it up. However, I find that is falls short when selling readers to continue this series. I give this book three out of five stars.

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