From Blood and Ash Series Review


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.

I stumbled across this book whilst scrolling aimlessly through Goodreads. I honestly started it thinking it would just be another filler book until I found my next favourite but oh my goodness was I wrong.

The story follows Poppy, who has been chosen from birth to become ‘The Maiden’. This means she cannot be looked upon, touched or spoken to. This is obviously a pretty crappy existence when deep down you’re a hard as fuck warrior, never mind an angsty young woman. A chance meeting in a brothel (of course) begins an incredible journey of self discovery and the fight of Poppy’s life against her own fate.

“Some truths do nothing but destroy and decay what they do not obliterate. Truths do not always set one free. Only a fool who has spent their entire life being fed lies believes that.”

Often in this genre the protaganist will have me rolling my eyes so much I cant see but I liked Poppy an awful lot. The supporting characters are so well written and the romance is ridiculously addictive but Poppy’s fragile relationship with herself remains the main focus throughout the two released books. Her discovering the ugly truths about the mysteries that have suffocated her for her whole life and eventual realisation that she doesnt need to fit anybodys ideal but her own was really quite emotional at times.

That being said, of course one of the things that makes this series so compelling is the main relationship. Its one hell of a bumpy ride and the tug of war between love and hate was so intense I honestly couldnt keep up with whether I wanted them together or not. For me, that is exactly what i want in my book romances. Pretty much as soon as the couple actually get together and its all hearts and flowers I’ve lost interest.

“Let’s make a deal that we don’t borrow tomorrow’s problems today.”

I think its really important in a fantasy series that you care and become invested in a lot of the characters, not just the protaganist, which seems to be one of the hardest things for most authors to acheive. Armentrout however exceeds in this. You might be introduced to a character and spend no more than a couple of paragraphs with them but when they turn up seven chapters later you will remember exactly who they are, where they have been and why they are important to the story.

Of course what that doesnt mean is that you will know what that characters motive is and i think that is the highlight of these books for me. The lines between good and evil are blurred, the characters are all kinds of shades of grey and every time you are stupid enough to trust someone you will get a dagger in the back before you can say “we will rise”. As a reader, I want my villains to do truly terrible things but I also want there to be a bloody good reason why and the author never forgets to fill us in.

“You’re an absolutely stunning, murderous little creature.”

The world building is fantastic and it blows my mind that such thorough history, comprehensive geography and established religions are a figment of someones imagination. I loved the concept of the monsters, the gods, the magic systems and the fucked up traditions. The books are deliciously fast paced and you are never far away from the next gruesome murder or epic, blood soaked battle.

I’m not sure why but I really have a thing about weapons in fantasy. I love when the author manages to give them enough detail that they almost come to life. Like Bilbo’s ‘sting’ or John Snow’s ‘longclaw’. Poppy’s dagger acheives this and becomes its own character. I was as invested in its safety as she was.

“You’re an absolutely stunning, murderous little creature.”

So to clarify, my stabby little heart is obsessed. I guess fantasy romance is its own genre now and I think this is the best series I have read in that category. Both of the released books are amazing, the sequel topping the first which I did not think would be possible. I am eagerly counting down the days until Crown of Gilded Bones is released next year.

Have you read this series? What did you think?