Series: Blood and Ash #1
Published by Blue Box Press (3.29.2020)
Genres: High Fantasy, New Adult
Format: Audiobook, 613 pages
Length: 19 hours, 46 minutes
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.
What the hell was I thinking even picking this up, lmao. I knew that this probably wasn’t a me book going in, but I couldn’t help myself – morbid curiosity got the better of me. The hype for this book is unreal. (It also has a gorgeous cover, which I also blame for tricking me.)
And why? It’s SO GENERIC?! Like it literally brings NOTHING new to the table. Classic Mary Sue main character (oh and did I mention she’s the Chosen One?), cringey romance with generic dark and broody “bad boy” male, generic world build- oh wait, no, there wasn’t any world building. The world building was shoddy at best – I saw someone else’s review mention the author relying on readers filling in the gaps from similar stories, and that was spot on. Everything about this book is generic and unimaginative. (I mean, the bad guy is called The Dark One, for chrissake.)
I feel like the only reason people love it so much is for the sexy times. I think this book is definitely a hit for romance fans. For non-romance fans, not so much. The romance was cheesy to the point of making me cringe, and it was coming on SO STRONG and straight up nauseating in the middle when they were traveling that I wanted to throw the book, or puke, or maybe throw the book and puke on it. I actually physically gagged a couple of times. It was so insufferable. Why didn’t I DNF?! I was horrible at DNFing in 2021 for some reason. I guess I still held out hope that it would get better, because so many people RAVED about this book that I expected better.
I hated Poppy. HATED her. She was fucking annoying, and immature, and if I had to hear ONE MORE TIME about how she was the maiden and she was pure and innocent I was going to throw myself off a bridge. It’s literally beaten into your head in the first half. Hey Jennifer Armentrout, your readers aren’t stupid and I think they can get it after a couple of times. (We aren’t as stupid as your main character, just sayin’). Anyway, Poppy was naive to the point that I couldn’t stand it – to be fair, I understand why she was naive, I really do, but it wasn’t done well. You know a book where “sheltered naive girl” is done well? Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa. WAY better than this.
I didn’t like Hawke any better – he was literally dark and broody and that was his whole personality? Is that even a personality? Unless you also include being abusive and manipulative (and also a bit rapey) a personality. How the hell do so many people find him attractive?! Because he has nice hair and pretty eyes?! *cringes* (Sofia calls it Twilight on steroids in her review and she nailed it.) As I said above, the romance was gag worthy. But their banter was insufferable too. I usually LOVE banter, and hate-to-love is my favorite trope ever, but good god this “banter” was juvenile and irritating. I don’t know how many times I rolled my eyes while listening to this.
And let’s not even talk about the fact that Hawke lied to Poppy, manipulated Poppy, almost killed her, she stabbed him with the intention of killing him, and then I think he tried to kill her again? …and all of that led to…yep, them having sex in the snow. Because nothing puts me in the mood like lies, manipulation, physical & mental abuse, and attempted murder, amirite?! WORST romance ever. I’m so tired of toxic, abusive relationships being praised as swoony.
By the time things FINALLY started happening, I was just over it. The big reveal didn’t impress me much, sorry. Doubt I’ll bother with the second book.
Writing style: 1/5
Overall rating: 1/5