Book Review: A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1)

Title: A Shadow in the Ember

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Pub. Date: October 19, 2021

Pages: Not Listed

Pub: Blue Box Press

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Born shrouded in the veil of the Primals, a Maiden as the Fates promised, Seraphena Mierel’s future has never been hers. Chosen before birth to uphold the desperate deal her ancestor struck to save his people, Sera must leave behind her life and offer herself to the Primal of Death as his Consort.   

However, Sera’s real destiny is the most closely guarded secret in all of Lasania—she’s not the well protected Maiden but an assassin with one mission—one target. Make the Primal of Death fall in love, become his weakness, and then…end him. If she fails, she dooms her kingdom to a slow demise at the hands of the Rot. 

Sera has always known what she is. Chosen. Consort. Assassin. Weapon. A specter never fully formed yet drenched in blood. A monster. Until him. Until the Primal of Death’s unexpected words and deeds chase away the darkness gathering inside her. And his seductive touch ignites a passion she’s never allowed herself to feel and cannot feel for him. But Sera has never had a choice. Either way, her life is forfeit—it always has been, as she has been forever touched by Life and Death.

This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you so much to JLA for letting me be a part of her review team and allowing me to read this book early. You can check out my reviews for books 1-3 of the Blood and Ash series – From Blood and Ash, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire and The Crown of Gilded Bones. I’m such a fan of this series, the world and of all of Jen’s works.

While this doesn’t take place in Poppy and Cas’s time, this was still a fantastic read and Sera and Nyktos will have you feeling all sorts of things.

Legit I spent most of this book having tingly excited, panicked, emotional feelings in my chest. Does that make sense? I was so caught up in the story and the emotion and just utterly hooked I was having visceral reactions to what was happening in the book.

I will say, Sera felt a lot like Poppy. I know that this is historically in the past, and they both hold similar roles within the world – but I couldn’t help drawing comparisons. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like her any less, though I did find myself kind of wishing she were less of a badass. I love both Poppy and Sera – they may be similar, but they have their own personalities and their own wits. Whereas Poppy was new to everything, Sera wasn’t. She’d seen, done and gone through some terrible shit.

And I also can’t help but wonder how Jen is going to bridge the time and how this backstory is going to shape the events going forward in the Blood and Ash series.

A lot of this book is spent on building a relationship between Sera and Ash and I loved it. I loved their sass, banter – basically their whole dialogue. I also really loved the sort of slow building tension they have. Jen knows how to write swoon worthy characters, and Ash is no exception. And where I found similarities between Sera and Poppy, I didn’t ever confuse Ash with Cas. Yes, they’d both been through so much shit, but Ash is softer. Which is almost weird to say because of his occupation, but he feels younger, more naïve. Which again, sounds so strange because again, been through some shit. Has some baggage, seen and done some terrible things.

But the relationship between the two of them, the sort of no choice, arranged marriage ordeal they have. It’s a bit of a mess. They don’t know how to navigate around each other as things are revealed, but there’s this clear chemistry. A pull towards each other. Despite it all, they seem to know each other on a much deeper level.

And having some knowledge on how this world Jen created works, I can only imagine what’s in store for them next.

Speaking of the world – I won’t lie. Since this takes place in the past (comparative to Poppy and Cas) terminology was different. I bet there will be a guide in the back of the published version, but not in the eARC. I also didn’t check to see if terminology matched up to the first three FBAA books. But it took a little mental navigating to remember what’s what. I’m not complaining, I actually didn’t mind it so much. I liked that it sort of demonstrated how things change and are warped by the time we meet Poppy and go on her journey.

I stayed up way too late on a work night finishing this book. I couldn’t put it down. And probably would have read it in one sitting had I not had work. I’m such a sucker for this world and now these new characters. I know we’re about to get FBAA 4 but like, how am I supposed to wait to find out what happens with these two? I love you Poppy and Cass, but like, I need more Sera and Ash. Like, right now. There were some reveals in this book that had my mind whirring and trying to piece things together. I can only imagine how it’ll affect Poppy and Cas in the long run.

Also, I need myself a Jadis. I know I have myself a 68lb lovable hell beast, but like, I need a baby drakon.

Pre-order this book. Read it. Do it. Fall in love with Sera and Ash. And if you haven’t already, go read the FBAA books. I recommend listening to them on audio. Cas – he’s got a British accent and y’all, it’s a game changer. I can’t wait to listen to the audio for A Shadow in the Ember and hear the characters. Ugh, I just love these books, this world so much.

If my reviews of the Blood and Ash series were enough to convince you – check out Sammy’s reviews of the first two books over on her blog We Write at Dawn! From Blood and Ash and A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire. I screamed at her to read these books for months, and I’m so glad she finally got around to it. I think she’s reading book 3 really soon, so keep an eye out for that review either this month or next! And I really can’t wait to hear her reaction to this new book.

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