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I got this series and wanted to wait until it was fully out before reading it… but then TikTok videos would not stop showing up for it. So, rather than getting everything spoiled, I decided to read From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I was going to read other books first, but considering how many times I found myself wanting to get to this book before something major was spoiled like ACOTAR, Shadow and Bone, or Throne of Glass I moved this series up in the list.
With that being said, I did have one massive thing spoiled for me before going into it. I’ll mention that in a moment in the “spoiler section” where I go over my thoughts.
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.
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.
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.
- Published: March 29, 2020
- Page Count: 625
- Genre: Fantasy
Thoughts While Reading (Spoilers Included)
Going into the book the one major thing that was spoiled for me was that Hawke Flynn is Prince Casteel, the Dark One. Everything else was a complete and total mystery. Also that him and Poppy (the main character) are romantic interests. If they are end game, I don’t know. I tried my hardest to skip any and all TikToks that mentioned this series. The one that I couldn’t avoid was the mention that Hawke was Casteel. Which added a whole different flavor on reading From Blood and Ash.
Every mention of the Dark One made me go “Oh Hawke, how are you going to play this one off?” And I was intrigued. Because for someone who is played off during the majority of the book as someone who would want to kill Poppy, Hawke does the exact opposite. Granted, during all the major moments where the Dark One is attacking the city or castle, Hawke is mysteriously missing until the end. The attack on the wall, Poppy doesn’t spot him until the end when he discovers her fighting and it comes out that he’s well aware he has kissed her in the past. And during the attack on the castle when literally everyone was massacred including her father figure and abusers, Hawke is apparently in the city when there was no way he could’ve been there considering he had just left Poppy moments before.
Writing this paragraph and the next two having just finished chapter 27, I don’t think Hawke is entirely in control of the mist like everyone believes the Dark One is. Though I could be mistaken. And for an Atlantian (beings that look like mortals but have fangs), Poppy does not notice his fangs at all. So, I have a feeling that there is something massive being kept a secret from the population.
Not to mention, Poppy who is considered the Maiden is left in the dark about what that actually means. No one can tell her what happens when she becomes Ascended, an immortal being at that point. And every aspect of her life has been so locked down she has no friends, no social interaction, locked in her room almost every minute of the day, no one is allowed to see her face, and forbidden to kiss or doing anything with another. Something I don’t blame her for tricking Hawke into doing the first time or requesting a second time weeks later when he becomes one of her two personal guards. I have a feeling there’s something off about the Ascended or government. Considering, those that Ascended are kept separate from their families and lose that some sense of morality. Or at least every Ascended that Poppy has encountered has. And her brother only communicates in letters every few months, but she hasn’t seen him in years.
Plus, no one really helps Poppy when she’s abused. All her guards turn an eye about her being hit or whipped with a cane, except for Hawke who stops the Priestess when she does it in front of him. And I know he’s responsible for shoving the cane that the Duke whipped Poppy with through the chest, that much I’m not surprised about at all. And he waits until after Poppy has butchered the Lord, who wanted to sexually assault her on numerous occasions in the past, before intervening. Not to mention, he’s the only one who isn’t remotely phased by her scars that cover most of the left side of her body after her parents were slaughtered in front of her by a Craven.
I cannot wait until we get more into the Atlantian side of things. Because I have a feeling their relationship with the Craven and Wolven are very different than everyone is led to believe. Again, only finished Chapter 27 with writing this part of the review. Because from the way Hawke has talked about them, he hates that people are executed in humiliation if they’ve been attacked. Which doesn’t sound at all like an individual who is controlling the Craven to attack others. Someone who perhaps hates the Royals for how they treat their people, but not a heartless murderer that everyone believes Prince Casteel to be. Granted, Hawke has outright stated that he’s good at killing. And managed to get his way into the Royal Guard to become Poppy’s personal guard… all things that someone wanting access to topple an opposing government would do.
Also, I love how in only the third chapter of the book we had an almost sex scene to start things off being Poppy and Hawke. Normally you have to wait until end of book for the first kiss and then one or two books before a sex scene. Granted, it was really only a kiss on the lips and Hawke kissing her breast before they were interrupted. And then they don’t do anything else besides the best snarky banter and flirting for the rest of the book wants he becomes her guard. But I was living for it. Especially because Hawke has almost no regard for the fact she’s the Maiden, and when they had to the capital he fingers her through her pants in front of all the guards without any care.
And she does mention something about his teeth being off during that scene, and the one a few chapters later when they actually do have sex. When he all but bites her with his fangs. There are a lot of hints leading up to the reveal that he’s not mortal. Stories that someone of maybe twenty years ago wouldn’t have gone through to the way he talks about things. Of course, Poppy dismisses most of this or comes up with some logical explanation for it. Of course, knowing who Hawke is I’m like “girl… he’s not who you think he is.”
One of the other guards accompanying them however realizes there is an issue, and tries to get Poppy out. Only for Kieran, a wolven, to discover them attempting to leave. Which Poppy initially thought was the guard attempting to abduct her after telling her all the other guards were missing. Hawke left Poppy in the middle of the night, no doubt to do that. Girl, you’re blinded by your love and lust for him. Before he left, he told her to remember that it was real regardless of what happened in the future, referring to the reveal that he’s the Dark One. They manage to get to the stable only for the wolven that killed her previous personal guard that Hawke replaced appear. Then Hawke appears and kills the guards that were protecting Poppy. The two fight and finally Poppy realizes that he’s Atlantian after seeing his fangs, how she didn’t see them when he talked is a mystery. Or when they were kissing… I would think you would feel that but apparently not. Granted, she doesn’t know at first that he’s also the Dark One.
He shares with her the truth of the Ascended, that they are vampires or vampry as they are called in this universe. Which is why they are only active at night, the sun kills them. The Ascended were also the ones to create the Craven, not the Atlantian though they were responsible for the first vampry. After the Craven were created by vampry draining a mortal, the Atlantians banned the Ascension. Only the vampry revolted causing the war, and have been using a Atlantian ever since to allow them to continue the Ascension since it requires Atlantian blood. The missing children (the third or fourth) are used as the vampry food source. He also states that he had no apart in the attack that killed her father figure, that the rebels acted without his orders on that. Though he did kill the Duke. He admits that he had planned on using Poppy to get his brother back. The vampry are using Malik as their blood source for the Ascended as Hawke once was for five decades.
Poppy is attacked by Descenter and is almost killed. Casteel heals her, but she attempts to kill him and making an escape. Only Casteel gets to her before she can make it far, then bites her neck. This makes him realize that she’s part Atlantian. After they have sex, Casteel tells all of his followers and Poppy that he is returning to Atlanta with Poppy to marry her.
Final Thoughts (Spoiler Free)
I loved From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I can’t put the book down for a single second. The world building, characters, and writing style were great. There weren’t any parts of the book that came across as lulls waiting for the action to pick up. Plus, I loved the banter between Poppy and Hawke throughout the book. I thought it was hilarious, and the moment we started meeting his friends I was like “yes, I can’t wait for more of these characters.”
I would’ve loved to have the secret regarding Hawke a secret to discover for myself, but that didn’t ruin the twist for me. Even though I was constantly picking up on details Poppy was missing in regards to his true nature. And was waiting to see how she would respond to it.
Certain elements of the twist reminded me of Girl, Serpent, Rose by Melissa Bashardoust. Though they happen at wildly different times, though in a way for slightly similar reasons. And Hawke reminded me a bit of Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. In that he has a tortured past, a lot of mystery surrounding him, and will do whatever he needs to for his cause/kingdom. Granted, there are a lot of differences between the books. I just couldn’t help but think that at different points while reading From Blood and Ash.
I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, and will probably have it done in a matter of days. I can see myself returning to this series a lot in the future. And will probably have to re-read it before the third book is released in April 2021. Overall, I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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