From Blood and Ash | Review

☾ disclaimer

This book contains descriptions of sexual intercourse and other graphic material and therefore is not suitable for under-aged readers.
To see if the contents of this book may be triggering to you, please refer to the list of trigger warnings below.

☾ about the book

Title: From Blood and Ash
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Blood and Ash
Published: 2020
Format: ebook, novel
Pages: 622
Rating: β˜…β˜….5
Smut Rating: 🌢️
Trigger Warning: blood, gore, bodyhorror, human sacrifices, torture, abuse (of women), death of multiple characters, corporal punishment (namely with canes), explicit mature themes, manslaughter, war, gaslighting, discrimination, segregation.

☾ the synopsis

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. 

☾ the characters

Poppy is 18, and as the Maiden, she has been forced into a life of celibacy and hiding herself from the world.
As her Ascension draws nearer, Poppy begins to question the things she has been taught and starts breaking the rules – all the while risking that people will discover her and her gift that was given to her by the gods.

Hawke steps into Poppy’s life when her old royal guard is killed during an attack – and he is immediately drawn to her.
So, he finds himself torn between his duty to protect her and her wish to indulge in life the way the other people live it – and ultimately, he does both and much more.

☾ the magic system

In the world of From Blood and Ash, magic is only available to certain people.
Poppy’s god-given gift enables her to reach out to other people’s emotions, feel them, and take them away or replace them with something else.
At first, it is limited to negative emotions and feelings, but as Poppy matures, so does her gift.
The feared Atlantians have a magic of their own, and it’s in their blood. Atlantian blood has healing qualities.

☾ the world building

Poppy lives in a society of Ascended – first and second sons and daughters who take part in a ritual called the Ascension in which they are made more powerful.
The Ascended have pale eyes and tend to avoid the sun.
As the Maiden, Poppy is an Ascended chosen by the gods to carry out their wishes – in order to be able to do this, Poppy must adhere to a life of celibacy. She is not allowed to expose herself to people, take part in conversations or do any of the things a normal person would do.
The third sons and daughters are sent to the temples to serve the gods.
On the other side, there are Atlantians – creatures with a bloodlust and almost unnoticeable fangs who bite people in order to survive.
Atlantians are not as immortal as the Ascended are, and they can be killed.
Craven are creatures that can be controlled by Atlantians. They, much like the Atlantians themselves, thrive on bloodlust and destruction. When they bite a person, that person is turned into a Cursed. If a Cursed is killed before they transition into a a Craven, they are no longer a danger.
Another creature are the Wolven – they are essentially werewolves.

☾ what i liked

I liked the lore – it’s very extensive even though it plays off of commonly known supernatural beings – and I am sure that I – once again – did an absolutely horrible job at explaining it, but that’s because the book leaves you hanging with the lore for a huge chunk of the plot.
I guess that makes sense, because it makes you feel clueless like Poppy is, but then, when you get to the part where all of these things click into place, you realize that it’s actually quite a morbid world.
I also liked the second half of the book – again, things click into place, but at the same time, they don’t do it in a way that you would necessarily expect them to.
In terms of characters, I really liked how seemingly uncaring Poppy is sometimes. It’s expected of her that she behaves prim and proper, and most of the moments in which she breaks out of those expectations make for a breeze of fresh air in the book, so to say.
I liked how twisty this book, is, too – it always has an ace up its sleeve…

☾ what i disliked

The way women are being treated in this book.
Most of the male characters in this book are utter … they’re a**holes – there, I said it. Specifically Lord Mazeen and the Duke, because they pick on Poppy and take advantage of her and her vulnerable position as Maiden to abuse her.
Furthermore, in the first half (so up to chapter twenty or so), there is practically no plot.
From Blood and Ash is a very character driven book, and while some may find that enjoyable, I would have liked it if the lore (that was being info-dumped on the reader in the last fifty pages or so) had been mixed in with the character development.
As far as plot goes, you would think that From Blood and Ash suffers from “second book in a trilogy”- syndrome, even though it’s the first book.
The plot is basically non-existent until you get to either the sex or the battle scenes.
Which brings me to the “sexy” part of the book.
It’s definitely a question of taste.
I can see how the sex scenes make sense seeing as Poppy is an inexperienced virgin, but I am just used to a little bit more and a little bit different content, so in my opinion, it wasn’t enough.
Also, but this is just a me thing, I fall for villains, so I was pretty unimpressed by Hawke in general.

☾ would i recommend this book

If you enjoyed the ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Maas or what we have so far of the Something Dark and Holy Trilogy by Emily A. Ducan, chances that you will enjoy this book more than me are big.
Again, in order to enjoy this you have to like character development over lore and plot, or else you will be bored.
Had I not read this book with a book club full of people who kept telling me that it will get better, I would have DNFed this book after the first hundred pages, which is the number of pages I usually judge a book on.
I gave this book four stars – why?
I was pretty settled on two and a half, then three, and then three and a half stars for about two thirds of the book. The reason? Not enough lore, and not enough action that was plot-essential.
But then I got what I came for. The concepts in From Blood and Ash are definitely not the most original, but they sure pack a punch and if you end up finishing it, I trust that you will want to pick up the sequel to see what happens next.

Have you read From Blood and Ash?
What were your thoughts on it?
Be sure to make them spoiler-free if you wanna share them below!

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