by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Blood and Ash #1
Narrator: Stina Nielsen
Length: 19 hours and 46 minutes
Source: Publisher, Purchase
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups Speed: 1.3x
Captivating and action-packed, From Blood and Ash is a sexy, addictive, and unexpected fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Laura Thalassa.
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.
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout delivered a riveting fantasy filled with romance, supernatural elements, and danger. Armentrout pulled me in and held me captive.
Narrated by Stina Nielsen, the author weaved a tale of kingdoms and sacrifice, with an air of mystery. With its Glass of Throne vibes, I quickly found myself immersed.
Poppy aka “The Maiden” is her kingdom’s chosen one. Until her Ascension she must remain within the walls of the castle, must never show her face, and forbidden to use her gift.
In the beginning, much of the rules of the world are unknown to the listener. Even Poppy doesn’t know what will happen when she ascends. We know they do all to appease the gods and protect the kingdom. Beyond the walls lies danger. Nighttime brings dangers and they must keep fires lit to keep out creatures known as the Cravens. An air of mystery regarding the Royals, Gods and temples exists.
We learn a little about the war between factions, and we know there is some upheaval within and out of the kingdom. I found the setup and world-building both satisfactory and addictive. Each tidbit gave way to questions and anticipation.
Poppy defies the rules despite the repercussions. Through Vikter, her guard and father figure, she learns to fight and use weapons. She sneaks out with her maid and has occasionally used her gift. I liked this spunky maiden who questions everything. At her core she wants to be loyal and fulfill her obligations to the kingdom, yet she tempts fate.
Hawke is a soldier in the Royal army, and a new transfer from the capital who shares a moment with Poppy at the Red Pearl. When there is an attack, Hawke is assigned as Poppy’s personal guard.
The relationship that develops between Hawke and Poppy sparked with chemistry and was heightened by the forbidden. I adored Hawke and the banter between the two. Poppy is headstrong and restless. She wants to experience life before she ascends and questions him endlessly, much to his chagrin.
The author wove the world-building throughout the tale, avoiding info-dumps. She chose instead to flesh things out as the story progressed. This allowed for a faster pace and smoother listen. She painted the kingdom in vivid colors. The characters from key players to the royals had depth and individuality. I felt as if I were in the ballroom and gardens. She allowed me to sense the growing danger, blush during intimate moments and feel the character’s anguish, sorrow and joy.
The tale has all the elements of a well-done fantasy from betrayals to heart-pounding battles. The almost eighteen hour audio seemed over minutes after it began, so entrenched in the tale was I.
Twists, loss, and unexpected developments had me wringing my hands, holding my breath and even bursting forth with laughter.
I am delighted I got to enjoy this on audio. Stina Nielsen was brilliant with her narration. She brought Poppy and Hawke to life and enhanced this exquisite tale. The story lends itself perfectly to audio, and Armentrout’s writing from conversations to vivid imagery translate beautifully to audio.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra
I’ve only read a couple of JLA’s books so far but really loved them so this series really appeals to me, especially since it sounds like it has everything I love in a good fantasy. Sounds like audio is the way to go too, so thanks for the head’s up on that and the sample. 🙂
Maureen @ Maureen's Books
I’m so glad to read you enjoyed this book too. i haven’t listend to the audiobook myself, but I read the book and it’s one of my favorites. I also read book two recently. It’s such a great series.
The second audiobook releases in November and I cannot wait!
Tyler H. Jolley
Oh man, it’s been a minute since I’ve read a JLA book! She’s such a great author–I loved her Covenant series. I better check this out.
I read some of that series and enjoyed it Tyler.
Anne - Books of My Heart
Fantastic review! I may have to look at this one.
I am really glad I grabbed the audio.
Fantastic review, Kimberly! There are some books that just sing off the page as they are narrated – and this sounds like one of them:)). She’s a writer I haven’t yet checked out, and I definitely need to…
Yes… and I love this genre on audio 🙂
Armentrout is an author I’ve been meaning to read since I just started blogging and this looks so good. I’ll have to try the audio. I haven’t listened to that narrator before but she sounds great.
You are going to love it and the second audio is coming in November!
I really enjoyed her sci-fi aliens. I need to try her fantasy, it seems.
I read her YA/NA stuff and burned out, but was so excited to try this on audio and it was brilliant.
Debbie S Haupt
Oh this sounds fantastic, nothing better than a kick ass heroine. Thanks Kim this is a definite yes for my list
It positively delighted me.