Dark fantasy. Explicit, spicy romance. Exciting and imaginative werewolves and vampires. Plus, a strong, lovable female protagonist. These are just some of the components that make Jennifer L. Armentrout’s New York Times bestselling series, “From Blood and Ash,” such an addicting read. It’s the perfect series for fans of Sarah J. Maas and for readers who appreciate modern, dark and provocative fantasy novels.
After the first book in the series was published in 2020, Armentrout continued to rapidly produce her “From Blood and Ash” books. Barely into 2022, Armentrout is already set to release the fourth book in the series, “The War of Two Queens,” in March. With such an imminent release, there’s never been a better time to binge the first three books in preparation for the highly anticipated new arrival.
What Makes Armentrout’s Writing so Addicting?
All writers and storytellers have their strengths. Without a doubt, Armentrout’s greatest strength is her astonishing dialogue and character development. “From Blood and Ash” introduces the two main characters, Hawke Flynn and Penellaphe Balfour (also known as Poppy). Armentrout brings these two to life in a magical way. Hawke and Poppy’s personalities are so big and life-like that readers will soon forget their surroundings and will feel as if they’re a part of the imaginary world. This sensation is just one of the reasons Armentrout’s work is so addicting.
One way Armentrout creates such believable and compelling characters is through her use of dialogue. She has mastered the art of believable banter and conversation. Hawke and Poppy often bicker in ways that are hilarious yet relatable. These dialogue sequences are something few fantasy authors do as well as Armentrout, and these conversations are all the more captivating since Hawke and Poppy have fiery and stubborn dispositions.
Armentrout also creates a cast of amazing side characters that uplift Hawke and Poppy, as well as the story itself. Tawny, Poppy’s closest female companion, has a bubbly, unfiltered and blunt personality that will immediately endear itself to readers. Vikter, Poppy’s guard, is the honorable, gruff father figure who worries over Poppy while also allowing her the room to explore and enforce her strong will.
As a counterforce, “From Blood and Ash” contains some truly revolting and blood-boiling antagonists. Lord Brandole Mazeen and Duke Teerman are the two most prominent adversaries in the first book. The two show, in disturbing ways, what can happen when bad people have the upper hand in a power dynamic. These slimy characters will make your skin crawl, but in a way that makes the reader’s blood boil for justice. As readers wait for justice to come, Armentrout’s vicious antagonists provide yet another reason “From Blood and Ash” can’t be put down once picked up.
A Riveting Reimagination of Werewolves and Vampires
Along with her compelling characters and dialogue, Armentrout has proven her well of creativity is so deep that she can take classic (overused) creatures like werewolves and vampires and reimagine them in a way that excites her readers. I have been thoroughly exhausted by the whole werewolf, vampire genre. Yet, when I picked up “From Blood and Ash,” I had no idea that I was getting myself into another werewolf, vampire sort of story. However, I was far from disappointed when I discovered these creatures existed in Armentrout’s world.
For starters, not all characters in “From Blood and Ash” are either a werewolf or vampire. Thankfully, there are plenty of humans to balance out the presence of these creatures. Secondly, Armentrout’s vampires don’t glisten in the sunlight, a point of stark relief for some readers, I’m sure. Armentrout makes her werewolves and vampires vicious and terrifying, something that’s much more exciting. Also, the “From Blood and Ash” vampires are not simple bloodsuckers. For one, vampires are known as Atlantians, and the werewolves are technically known as the Wolven.
The name change is likely due to the fact that Atlantians don’t just drink blood and move fast like many vampires. There are also different types and various classes that possess other awesome, magical abilities that give these vampires an interesting blend of witch-like characteristics.
For example, some Atlantians can fly, breathe fire or heal others. With such originality, there’s more than meets the eye in Armentrout’s Wolven and Atlantian world. Readers won’t be bored by an overworked genre. Instead, they’ll find refreshing new life breathed into the vampire and werewolf storyline.
Provocative Romance in “From Blood and Ash”
Most explicit writers like Sarah J. Maas will tease readers and hold off on the provocative writing until later in the book. Well, Armentrout lays the unreserved romance right onto her audience pretty much from the get-go in “From Blood and Ash.” It’s a surprising tactic that works for fans of such writing. Readers will be immediately hooked, wondering what’s to come in later chapters.
Overall, Armentrout doesn’t hold back when it comes to romance. She lets readers know right away what her writing is about; if you’re not into spicy scenes, this is not the series for you. For those who enjoy this genre, Armentrout intersperses the perfect number of risque passages throughout “From Blood and Ash” and subsequent books. Her work is imaginative, alluring and seductive. Be warned: You will blush.
“The War of Two Queens”
Come March 2022, Armentrout will release “The War of Two Queens,” the fourth book in the “From Blood and Ash” series. Readers should binge the series now, if they haven’t already, so they can continue reading Hawke and Poppy’s journey. I’m sure we can expect all the heart-pounding romance, betrayal, plot twists and battles that have made the first three books of “From Blood and Ash” unforgettable.
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