After finishing ACOTAR and needing something else to read last summer, a friend suggested From Blood and Ash. It’s very, very similar and sucked me in quickly, and kept me reading even after I realized there were fantasy elements that I didn’t know would be included (lol @ me). If you’re looking for a new enemies to lovers fantasy-ish series, this is it.
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If you haven’t read the book, stop reading! Spoilers ahead
We meet Penellaphe, who we learn is nicknamed Poppy, as she sneaks out of the castle and into the Red Pearl, which appears to be both a brothel and a tavern. Not exactly the start that I was expecting! The scene is made more awkward once we realize Poppy isn’t supposed to be there for a number of reasons, the main being she is The Maiden. Which brings me to…
What does “The Maiden” mean? Virgin, probably, given that she’s 18 and forced to wear all white and a veil, but there’s clearly something *more* going on that I really never understood, even throughout the rest of the book. (Edit: I read the later books and get it now, I think the confusion was intentional haha).
She’s guided into a room upstairs by a mysterious woman, where she hides from her father-figure guard Vikter. And then in comes Hawke. It was a pretty quick romantic interest introduction IMO, but I guess because of the later plot points, it was necessary. Even though he doesn’t know who she is, they kiss a bit, Poppy’s internally freaking, and then Hawke gets called away. Instead of waiting for him to return, Poppy dips out and goes back to the castle.
We’re introduced to her friend, Tawney, who’s a second daughter and will be Ascending alongside Poppy in a short while. We learn Poppy has an older brother, Ian, who’s in the capital and has already Ascended. We are also given dialogue between Poppy and Ryland, her guard who she views as a friend, and Vikter, the main guard who not only trained her, but raised her. We also learn the Duke and Duchess who “raised” her are abusive and neglectful.
Her parents are dead as a result of a Craven attack, and Poppy has nightmares about this at times. Something seems *off* as I read this, and as it’s repeated multiple times…
Quickly, chaos erupts, Ryland dies, Poppy is attacked by a Descenter, the Rise is attacked by Craven, yaddah yaddah. This all results in Hawke becoming Poppy’s main guard and the two of them spending time together where they develop a semi-awkward friendship.
There’s a bit of world building between plot points with the whole Ascended thing and Descenters (those who are against the current king and queen) but I wish there was more. There’s a lot of questions I had while reading.
In a cute scene, Poppy and Hawke talk and then eventually kiss by the willow tree, until Vikter crashes the party. Lots of tension going on. I’m rooting for them though. Hope this author isn’t like SJM who kills off or ruins the first love interest!!
There’s a Rite being held and that is when more chaos erupts. The Duke is killed, Poppy beheads the Lord who was attempting to assault her earlier on, lots of innocents are also killed. RIP Vikter!!! In his final moments, he asks Poppy to forgive him, and I’m again thinking something is *off* here…
Plans are made for Poppy to go to the capital since the Descenters are getting more reckless. Hawke and some other guards are to take her. Safe to say, this is when I knew something was about to turn, and it did. Hawke and Poppy get closer in more ways than one (wink) and end up hooking up at a castle. The next morning, Hawke turns out to be the Dark One, Prince Casteel, of the enemy kingdom. Classic! But this set up enemies to lovers, so I was okay with it.
After attempting to fight her way out (and failing), Poppy, and us readers, get an education lesson on the history of Solis, her kingdom, and Atlantia, the kingdom backed by the Descenters and where Casteel’s parents rule. This was helpful for world building and explaining the seemingly one-layered drama between the two kingdoms, but then it’s revealed what really happens during the Ascension. They’re turned into VAMPIRES.
I was honestly so annoyed once I realized the Ascended were vampires?! Like, I told myself ACOTAR was a one-off thing. I don’t *like* fantasy books outside HP. That’s the extent of magic my mind can handle. And then, boom, I realize 3/4 of the way into a book I like that VAMPIRES are involved. Great.
Life moves along. Poppy is told she’s being held for ransom for something Casteel wants from the King and Queen (who I should point out, Poppy is fond of). We learn it’s his brother! Poppy has cognitive dissonance, doesn’t know who to believe, freaks out, stabs Casteel multiple times, and then, we learn he wants to marry her.
That is how the book ends..??? I kept thinking I was missing a chapter haha. What a cliff hanger! I instantly downloaded the second book on Kindle.
- Poppy’s characterization. 10/10. she rocks
- enemies to lovers is my fav trope ever and it’s set up perfectly
- sexual tension is a near constant between Poppy and Hawke/Casteel even once it’s revealed he is supposedly bad
- filled the hole in my heart after ACOTAR
- world building. most of my initial ?s were answered in later books, but not all of the answers would have given away future plot soooo
- realizing I got myself emotionally attached to yet another book series involving magical creatures after swearing it off lol
- the all white, veiled “virgin” thing was just a little OTT for me
4/5. I am a sucker for enemies to lovers, so even the vampires couldn’t make me put down the book. I have a feeling more of the fantasy stuff is to come, but in the form of deities and pantheon gods, which I’m more okay with than winged things.
Blood and Ash Series
This was originally supposed to be a trilogy, but now will have 6 novels total. There’s apparently a prequel novel coming out in October, and the fourth novel coming out next year!