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From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout | A Book Review

January 13, 2021

“You’re such a bad influence,” I murmured as I placed my hand in his.
Hawke curled his fingers around mine. The weight and warmth of his hand was a pleasant shock. “Only the bad can be influenced, Princess. “

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the first book in Armentrout’s new influential fantasy fiction series, from Blood and Ash. The debut novel follows Penallphe Balfour, known as Poppy by her family and friends and as the Maiden by the kingdom. Poppy has been chosen by the gods since birth to be the Maiden. She is never to be touched or spoken to and cannot experience pleasure until her ascension. Poppy is not known however for following all the rules, and while she should be patiently waiting for her ascension and proving her innocence, she is learning how to fight and desires to be just like other ladies. Has her ascension approaches, cursed creatures are stirring and pose a threat to everything she has known. Poppy must confront these creatures, her forbidden desires and more in this fast-paced, high fantasy and action-packed novel. 

I was recommend this novel as a fan of Sarah J. Maas, and am far from disappointed. This novel has everything I have fallen in love with in young adult fantasy fiction, putting a particular focus on the power of women and the importance of choice. Poppy is everything I look for and am captivated by in a protagonist. She is a badass heroine who not only defies the Maiden standards, but societal ones too. Poppy does not sit around while others experience life and battle, but secretly involves herself in them. I see myself in Poppy for I was never one to shy away from sports (and now lifting weights) due to its popularity among boys/men, but faced them head on. This quality however does not diminish my femininity like Poppy’s who still enjoys reading books and dressing in various colours and garments. Poppy’s ability to fight, read emotions and experience love for the first time is something beautiful and complex to read about. Readers will fall in love with Poppy, atypically (but truthfully) described as “an absolutely stunning, murderous little creature,” and may even find a bit of themselves in her and her desire to live freely. 

The importance of choice and freedom is also deeply integrated in this novel which can be seen on various occasions.

“It doesn’t matter if I want--”
“And you do want.” His whisper danced over my cheek. “What you want is me.”
My breath caught. “That doesn’t matter.”
“What you want should always matter. “

Poppy has seldom experienced what she wants since becoming the maiden. The maiden must be pure upon ascension thus cannot be touched, spoken to or even fully looked at (which is why she is always sporting a veil in public). Poppy has been slowly and secretly defying the maiden standards in her youth, such as learning how to fight and reading novels, however her defiance takes a bigger turn with the arrival of golden eyed guard honour Hawke Flynn. Hawke makes Poppy feel things she’s never felt before and tempts her with the forbidden. Most importantly however, Hawke teaches Poppy the importance of choice and how what we want matters. 

This is not to say that if one wants the newest PS5 or IPhone 12, they should get it. This lesson is more about freedom and choice of how one lives their life. For example, if one wants to sits in the whites section of a movie theather, they should be able to do it. If someone wants to create low cost but high quality footwear and apparel, they should do it. If I want to pursue a career in health and fitness which I am passionate about, while my family urges me to pursue medicine or computers (which I am not passionate about), than I should do it. 

Poppy, as well as the other well developed characters in the novel and vital life lessons are bound to peak ones interest and have you as a reader, eager for more. 

This was my first ever read from Jennifer L. Armentrout and I know I will be reading more of her works. Her words can paint detailed pictures and every single one of her words have great importance to the story as a whole, thus it is vital to read this piece closely and diligently. Armentrout has written a number of other novels and series including the Lux series, the Origin series, the Harbinger series, “The Problem with Forever,” “If there’s no tomorrow,” and many more. 

Similar authors to Armentrout include Sarah J. Maas, Laura Thalassa, Linsey Miller and many more. Similar books to From Blood and Ash include the Throne of Glass series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, The Maze Runner, Percy Jackson and more. I would recommend this novel one-hundred percent to fans of Sarah J. Maas and ages 16+. I would advise caution when reading this novel because some scenes can be explicitly detailed and gory. 
Nonetheless, if you are looking for your next high fantasy fiction read, filled with action, adventure, romance, humour, “edge of your seat” cliffhangers and more, do not hesitate in picking up From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

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