I’ll admit, when I first started reading the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I was a bit skeptical. As a longtime fantasy fan, the synopsis sounded a little too familiar – a young woman living in a restrictive society discovers she has special powers and gets swept up in an adventure and romance. I wondered if this series would feel derivative or fail to bring anything new to the genre. However, I am happy to say that the Blood and Ash series defied my expectations and turned out to be a highly entertaining and binge-worthy read!
|Title||Blood and Ash|
|Author||Jennifer L. Armentrout|
|Genre||Fantasy, Fiction, Romance|
|Publication Date||March 29, 2020|
|Number of Books||6 (one will be available on February 20, 2024)|
Where to Purchase
An Imaginative and Immersive Fantasy World
One of the standout elements of this series is the vivid and imaginative world that Armentrout has created. The story takes place in a fantasy kingdom called Solis, surrounded by a massive wall intended to protect its inhabitants from the terrifying and deadly creatures that roam the world outside. Within the walls, society is strictly regimented into different castes, with our main character Poppy living as a Maiden, the lowest caste of women who live cloistered lives of service. The mythology, rituals, traditions, and power dynamics within Solis create an immersive backdrop for the story to unfold. I was continually impressed by the depth of detail and worldbuilding. Solis truly felt like a real, lived-in place with a long, layered history behind it.
A Heroine Who Breaks the Mold
Poppy, our protagonist, immediately drew me in as a relatable and complex character. As a Maiden, she’s been taught that her sole purpose is dutiful service, and she has minimal freedoms or power over her own life. However, beneath her demure exterior, Poppy harbors a strong independent streak and a desire to learn more than what she’s been told. When strange happenings begin to occur around her, Poppy embraces the mystery and peril, seeking answers even as her world becomes more treacherous.
Throughout the series, Poppy undertakes a profound personal transformation, emerging as a courageous young woman who challenges the oppressive system she was raised within. Her tenacity, determination, and growing confidence provide a compelling center to the tale. She’s not your typical damsel in distress – Poppy is a heroine whose choices drive the story forward in unexpected ways. I found her narrative arc empowering and refreshing.
A Sizzling Slow-Burn Romance
No page-turning fantasy adventure would be complete without a steamy romance, and the Blood and Ash series delivers in this area too. Poppy’s love interest is Hawke, an intimidating, aloof and magnificent warrior who is assigned as her protector. Though they come from vastly different stations and backgrounds, an undeniable attraction simmers between them as they spend more time together. Their romance unfolds slowly over the course of the series as their various secrets and troubled pasts are revealed.
I’m normally not the most patient when it comes to fictional couples getting together, but I was fully invested in Poppy and Hawke’s emotional, sexy, and nuanced love story. The palpable tension between them kept me eagerly turning pages. When they finally give in to their feelings, the payoff was immensely satisfying after all that build-up. Their romance added a thrilling, romantic subplot to complement the magical adventures.
Cliffhangers and Twists Galore
Like many fantasy series, the Blood and Ash books contain no shortage of gasp-worthy twists and cliffhangers that kept me voraciously reading late into the night. Danger and intrigue lurk around every corner for Poppy, from political betrayals to revelations about her own murky past. There were so many jaw-dropping moments that forced me to immediately pick up the next book.
While I don’t want to reveal any specific spoilers, Armentrout expertly paced the mysteries and action set-pieces to maximize suspense. Just when you think you know where the story is headed, she pulls the rug out from under you. I was constantly kept on my toes trying to piece together the full puzzle of Poppy’s world and destiny. If you’re looking for a series that will keep you guessing, look no further.
The Blood and Ash series offers an addictive blend of fantasy, mystery, adventure, and romance that will appeal to fans across multiple genres. I was initially skeptical, but ended up absolutely devouring these books. Poppy is a brave and unconventional heroine, the world of Solis is spectacularly crafted, the slow-burn romance perfectly scratches that itch, and the relentless pace of twists and revelations will keep you frantically turning pages. This series exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend it if you’re searching for an immersive fantasy world to escape into. I’m now eagerly awaiting the release of the fourth book – that cliffhanger ending has me desperate to know what happens next!