Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh & Fire #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout ~ Review

Source: e-ARC provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Born shrouded in the veil of the Primals, a Maiden as the Fates promised, Seraphena Mierel’s future has never been hers. Chosen before birth to uphold the desperate deal her ancestor struck to save his people, Sera must leave behind her life and offer herself to the Primal of Death as his Consort.

However, Sera’s real destiny is the most closely guarded secret in all of Lasania—she’s not the well protected Maiden but an assassin with one mission—one target. Make the Primal of Death fall in love, become his weakness, and then…end him. If she fails, she dooms her kingdom to a slow demise at the hands of the Rot.

Sera has always known what she is. Chosen. Consort. Assassin. Weapon. A specter never fully formed yet drenched in blood. A monster. Until him. Until the Primal of Death’s unexpected words and deeds chase away the darkness gathering inside her. And his seductive touch ignites a passion she’s never allowed herself to feel and cannot feel for him. But Sera has never had a choice. Either way, her life is forfeit—it always has been, as she has been forever touched by Life and Death.




To be entirely honest, I am head over heels for the Blood and Ash series. So when I got to the end of The Crown of Gilded Bones and realized that the next book in that world would not be B&A book 4, but instead a prequel/companion that would explain backstory and introduce new characters and a storyline that would intertwine with the B&A series...it was exciting but also stressful because it meant a longer wait for The War of Two Queens. That said, I did end up very much interested in A Shadow in the Ember and now I'm pulled into two JLA fantasy series...which I can't even be mad about because they're so good.

Jennifer L. Armentrout is so skilled at creating characters. Just like in the Blood & Ash series, I got so invested in every character of ASITE very quickly. The main character, Sera, was a spunky badass from the get go, and I only loved her more as the story progressed. The love interest, Ash...or whatever we will end up calling him, was intriguing the entire way through. And there are of course many side characters that leave their mark and I can't wait to see again. 

As for the plot, I would say it definitely does a great job in its own right to gain interest and carry the story forward. I understand that this is a prequel and connected to another series, but it truly does stand very well on its own. It definitely held my interest.

The romance...gave me many feelings. There's a fair amount of steam. But there's also a lot of building of chemistry and rapport between Sera and Ash. They're such a fun couple, and while there is a lot going against them, I am looking forward to seeing things hopefully work out for them sooner rather than later. I loved them together. And their difficulties really tore at me as I read. So basically, I'm just super invested in this couple.

This is definitely the type of story that is immersive--from world building to characters to the twists and turns and everything...and I truly enjoyed it.

That said, there were two things that held this back from being a 5-star read for me:

1. Though this does stand alone very well and you don't need to read the Blood & Ash series to read this, I HAVE read the Blood & Ash books and at this point I liked those better. I liked ASITE a lot, probably to the point where I could say I loved it, but I am pretty much obsessed with Poppy, Cas, and Kieran, so I have to take that into consideration when I rate this. I can't rate this the same 5 stars I did A Kingdom of Flesh & Fire and The Crown of Gilded Bones. 

2. I did enjoy the entirety of A Shadow in the Ember...but I really started to love it toward the end. And then it ended. And I get it, building the world and starting a new series and having it all at a crescendo toward the end, but that left most of the book in the "liked" territory and not enough in the "loved" territory. That said, this is a common problem for me with fantasy series and I have a very strong feeling that I am going to fall hard in love with this series as it continues. That is what happened with the Blood & Ash series, after all--I rated book 1 4.5 stars, then the other two after that were 5 stars. So take this one with a grain of salt.

All this is to say that I had a great time reading A Shadow in the Ember. It's an intriguing introduction to a series set in an immersive world that Jennifer L. Armentrout skillfully built full of captivating characters. The fact that it's a prequel to another awesome series is just a cherry on top. And now I can't wait for the next book in THIS series. So that's two JLA fantasy series that have me in their grips...and honestly, I'm fine with that. The more books to love, the better :)


4 stars - An intriguing series starter full of captivating characters...I cannot wait for the next one!



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