I have been in a pretty bad reading slump since January, and I had good and bad reading months one after the other. When I picked up the first book in the Blood and Ash fantasy series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I didn’t have any expectations. What’s more, I actually thought I might DNF it, like I had done with nine other books before it. Imagine my surprise when I ended up loving it and gave it 5 stars. This From Blood and Ash series review is spoiler-free.
The main series and its sequels are paranormal romance novels with a different twist on vampires and werewolves which I really enjoyed. The world is built in a unique way and while the initial plot isn’t anything original, it’s very engrossing to read about. The writing flows so well I just flew through the pages and it made my reading experience all the more enjoyable.
FROM BLOOD AND ASH (FBAA) – 5 stars
While FBAA isn’t anything unique or exceptionally amazing, it ticked all the right boxes for me at the right time. I love the story and the world, and I managed to connect to Poppy and Hawke. They are just the type of characters I love, and I am very happy that I decided to pick the book up.
I love the character dynamics and I especially love Hawke and Poppy as individual characters and as a couple. I love how respectful Hawke is to her and how he always thinks of what is best for her.
Poppy is a strong character who has been through a lot, but she doesn’t bow her head because of it, and I love it. It has been such a long time since I managed to connect with and care for new characters.
Now that I’ve read all three of the books that are out, I can say for sure that the plot in the first book is definitely the most cliché one of the three and also the simplest one. However, the enjoyability of it was still top-notch for me.
I have been told that the novel might be a bit slow in the beginning and I can see that. It takes it about 100 to 150 pages to set up everything and for the actual plot to begin, but I was engrossed the whole time. The author does a great job at setting up the story and introducing the characters.
While some worlds in the paranormal romance sub-genre aren’t the most elaborate or original, I’d say this one is unique in its own way and quite dark. In this specific novel we see only one part of it, Solis. We see it through the eyes of Poppy who’s grown up in Solis and in a way, she represents all of the people in that kingdom since she has the same opinions and views as them, and we also see it through the eyes of outsiders who are helping Poppy break out of the box she’s been forced in. I absolutely loved that.
The end of FBAA was quite unexpected mostly because of the formatting of the book. I read the last line and kept on reading, only to realise that it started listing off the author’s previous works. It was quite a shock, to say the least.
A KINGDOM OF FLESH AND FIRE (AKOFAF) – 5 stars
I devoured AKOFAF even faster than the first one. I was yet again completely captivated by this book. It deals with a bit of a different subject here.
Poppy faces all of the truths she’s been served and is trying hard to come to terms with her conflicting feelings about Hawke, while also trying to understand how much of what she knows and what she’s just been shown is truth or lie.
I feel like here everything happens a bit more slowly than it did in FBAA, it gives Poppy time to decide what she wants to do and who she wants to be. I enjoyed the development of all the characters.
Kieran, Hawke’s best friend, was introduced in the first book but we see more of his personality here. Poppy gets closer with all of Hawke’s people and slowly gains their trust and respect. There are a lot of stabbing jokes which I enjoyed a lot.
One of my favourite things about this book is how both Poppy and Hawke are trying to have somewhat of a healthy relationship even after everything that’s happened. They do something that not many people in the paranormal romance sub-genre do. They talk and communicate. Granted, it takes them about 400 pages to finally have the very important discussion we all were waiting for since book one but when they did have it, it was done well, and they told each other everything.
AKOFAF also expands the world more. We learn about Atlantia and the differences between the two kingdoms. It’s a stark contrast to say the least. Poppy also explores her improved abilities which I enjoyed a lot.
The ending of the book was very unexpected for me and it left me with many, many questions.
THE CROWN OF GILDED BONES (TCOGB) – 5 stars
The Crown of Gilded Bones started with a bang and ended with a bang.
Imagine my surprise when I got my hands on the third book in this series and found out that it wasn’t, in fact, the last book. It’s not even the second to last. It’s more or less the middle book because this is going to be a 6-book series.
The beginning of TCOGB was intense. It picks of right where the second one ended and things just kept happening for 100 pages straight. It felt like every time a crisis had just ended, another would begin. It felt like BANG! BANG! BANG! in my head and I couldn’t take my eyes off it until everything had finally finished. After that we had a lot of spice.
You could say that the most exciting parts of this book were the first and last 100 pages, while the middle 400 were mostly spice and other bits, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book anyway. I also read it in 3 days, so if it’s slow, I didn’t notice it and I was living for Hawke and Poppy’s time together. Now that I think about it, however, it might have served as a very good form of foreshadowing.
In this book a lot of theories get confirmed and disproved, I loved that. I would get surprised every time one of my friend’s theories got confirmed and then I would get even more surprised when things were disproved.
The world gets expanded yet again and we finally learn a tiny bit more about the gods of this world. One thing that I love very much about this whole series is that we have active gods or gods that were active at one point in time. I’ve always liked that. The mythology, so to call it, of this world also gets expanded.
Hawke and Poppy’s relationship is probably one of my favourites. They have such a good and healthy relationship, they always communicate, the always teach each other everything, especially after AKOFAF, which I love. Some might end up finding their endless dialogues a bad thing, but I loved it because it showed how much stronger their relationship got through them communicating.
I also love their banter and basically all the characters’ banter.
I love so many things about this book: Poppy and Hawke finally meeting Hawke’s parents, Poppy’s growing powers (I have a thing for overpowered characters), the whole book, the active gods, some unexpected visits from characters…
I’m pretty sure I have many more things I could talk about but some of them I’m forgetting, and others are a spoiler. Everything in The Crown of Gilded Bones kept me on edge and every time they had a peaceful moment I just wondered when the next big crisis would be. And then in came.
As I said, it ended with a bang too. The last 70 pages were the most intense ones, full of all kinds of revelations. Poppy demonstrated some serious growth, and she was low-key scary too which I absolutely loved.
I absolutely loved all three of these books. I was excited to read every single one of them. After being in a slump for months and not being able to read any physical books, it was such a joy to be back at reading and annotating books I was loving. My 5-start rating for all 3 is purely based on my enjoyment, it is a very subjective kind of rating and I stand behind it.