Blood and Ash Book 1 & 2 Spoiler Review | Rated: *

As usual this review will contain spoilers and I do not hate the author or anyone who enjoyed these two books. If you enjoyed this book – that is great, I however would like a refund.

I’m not even going to attempt to summerise these two books because I have neither the energy nor comprehension to understand what I have just read.

After reading “To Kill A Kingdom” I was looking to read some fantasy without the cringe of Lira and that other guy’s romance. I was wanting some good angst, plot and romance and I decided to give this series a go after reading a review saying it was dark.

I know realise that the “dark” aspect was not from tension, angst, stakes and character developments, but from the empty hole these books leave in your soul. Like a slow-acting poison the first book starts off promising (maybe a little flowery with the description but that’s something I can try to ignore) and with an interesting enough concept. And then just when you think that midway the annoying hint of cringeness that happens is the worst that it would get; – the ending of the first book and the entirity of the second, takes a full 180 and it becomes, excuse my language, a fucking mess.

Poppy as a character was extremely confusing. First of all the whole ‘Maiden’ thing makes no sense especially after learning the truth to the situation. Her behaviour and personality in the first book was somewhat more consistent despite being erratic at times. I found some of her naivity to be really uncomefortable when it came to her relationship with Hawke/Casteel because it felt like she was remarkably vulnerable despite the ‘strong independent woman’ message I think the author was trying to portray. Her behaviour in the second was literally insane and it made the less-believable aspects of her character in book 1 look even more jarring. Her relationship with Tawny and arguably the Duchess (I obviously did not think the Duchess was a good person but I was very much interested in her character and relationship to Poppy) which made their absence from the second book (minus the Duchess for a few pages near the end) greatly affect the way I saw her character. Tawny and Poppy’s friendship was a highlight of the first book for me and I only really realised it in the second book when Tawny was absent.

I especially hated Poppy’s inner monolouges which were annoyingly similar, albiet worse than the ones in “To Kill A Kingdom”. Poppy seemed to say the most cringe-worthy things that made me roll my eyes numerous times (especially in the second book) and it got old fast.

There was something annoying about the subtle rip-off moments that felt just that bit too like other books. The glowing of Poppy when she did her gift, the characters who were copy and pasted from other books and even the name “The Dark One” after watching Netflix’s Shadow and Bone based on a book series struck a nerve too.

Let’s talk about Hawke/Casteel/Cas. What a goddamn mess of a character. He starts off a semi-interesting, well-developed character until near the end of the book before the betrayal is revealed where he says “I’m so unworthy of you” to Poppy and I nearly vomitted in my mouth due to the cringe. Then when he betrays her as he planned all along you get the impression not that he some sort of attractive bad guy as I think was intended, but that he illogical. That’s the only word that springs to mind when I read that he was the traitor all along or whatever “huh? that’s illogical.”

At the end of the first book and the whole of the second I get horrible Rowan from the Throne of Glass series and Rhysand from the ‘A Court Of Thorns And Roses’ trilogy vibes from Casteel/Hawke. The ‘banter’ between Poppy and Casteel was agonisingly repetitive and I swear parahraphs were copied and pasted muliple times.

Casteel saying he “put the fun in disfunctional” is line that will haunt me to the day I die. When I suffle from this mortal coil – I will still cringe at the thought that this line was not cut from a fantasy new adult novel. Other moments such as “does my face look surprised?” and “random!” were words I did not want in the book and that’s only the tip of the cringe ice-berg.

Despite my harsh words there is a confession I must make. I read the first book from start to finish never so much as skimming a sentence. I had my full attention on the story as I did with th second book until one word was read that made me lose hope in humanity. It gave me Vietnam war flashbacks to ACOTAR and TOG. And that word was “Heartmates” and after that line all bets were off. I skimmed the rest grateful that I was no longer wasting another moment of my precious time on this Earth.

Anyway thank you for reading this review and I hope you have a wonderful day. Take care!

-Medusa

To Kill A Kingdom Book Review – SPOILERS

Warning if you have not read the book and do not wished to be spoiled please do not keep reading!

I’ve just finished the book mere minutes ago and I have a lot of thoughts about it so I’m going to skip the summary as I’ll assume that those who read this review have also read the book.

Honestly this book disappointed me quite a bit. It’s by no means a terrible book but it by no means lived up to my expectations based on the synopsis. The first half of the book I enjoyed, though it had it’s flaws retrospectively, they didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story. Unfortunately for the last half of the book, it’s a different situation. The pacing is wrong, the writing becomes more like Netflix romcom dialouge rather than banter between characters ( to the extent that I was cringing! ) and glaring failures in the overall characterisation of Elian and the rest become more and more noticeable

In the first few chapters, the set-up to Lira was great. Our understanding of the Sea Queen and her politics was poor ( unfortunately that never really changed other than when the book chose to simply inform us that the sea is ruled through the Queen’s forced loyalty ) but I believed that the lore would be further explained so I bit the bullet and embraced the unknown. The set-up to Elian was less great, we hear he loves killing sirens and all but what the guy loves to do more than anything is ramble on about how much he loves the ocean, still I continued with the story fascinated by the premise.

Halfway through the story, things suddenly felt different. Lira was coming up with more random self-descoveries than an internet phycology quiz spits out in a day. Her behaviour went from ruthless killer to “I love being part of my pirate family” WAY too quickly to the point where it undermined her character and the story. Lira’s sudden realisation that humans are good and that she hates her mother were so random and plot-convenient that it actually annoyed me. Lira and Elian’s relationship was interesting until the cheesiest moments in history started happening ruining the dark tones of the first chapter and setting the story up to become more and more corny.

The romance in this book should be good and the fact that it’s not is really disappointing. Instead of getting a complex dynamic between killer siren princess and ruthless siren-murderer prince we got two teenagers playing dress-up in pirate clothes. Elian needed to be grittier and darker, not just a plot device so that Lira could go “humans are nice”. Her apathy to his killing of one of her subjects, was not out of character for Lira, but Elians’s sudden remorse for Maeve was ridiculous coming from a chracter that is supposed to be a ruthless siren killer – this also ruined the lesson of Elian having to change the way he thought because he was clearly already unsure of himself. The minute that Elian finds out Lira is a siren the dialouge becomes painfully immature and the stakes of her keeping it a secret are made basically redundant as it takes him mere pages to be TOTALLY 100% FINE WITH HER BEING THE THING HE HAS DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO KILL. Lira and Elian’s ‘we’re the same’ comments got old fast too.

I could rant about how we learned nothing about the sirens other than the mention of a couple of them, how the ending was really unsatisfactory and how the final battle was boring but I won’t go into too much detail. The life of a siren is barely touched upon in terms of their culture and their day to day lives and I would be surprised is anyone would be convinced that the Saad crewmates were supposed to be hardened pirates when they are simply goofballs. The plot points of having a heart being a source of a siren’s power is never touched upon after a brief mention and the character’s make the most plot convenient realisations ever.

No hate to the author as it is still a fine book to read – it just could have been amazing with some changes. All in all this book was frustrating and disappointing but the brilliant concept is worth noting. I think the author shows real talent and promise but this book feels too rushed and unsure of itself. I do look forward to reading more books from her in the future though.

Rating out of 5: * * *