Mmmmm was this a good book. Fantasy, mythical creatures, spicy romance, intensity… yes please. Jennifer L. Armentrout delivered on this novel.
At the beginning of this book, I’ll admit I was a little confused on the differences between the Ascended, Atlantians, Craven, Descenters… and the Maiden herself. I *almost* googled it all because I felt like my confusion between all of them was holding me back from getting into the novel, but don’t worry… I didn’t. Sometimes I have to remind myself I’m an impatient person and that the build up and confusion is probably worth it (and in this case, it most certainly was).
Looking back, I honestly think the confusion was necessary to the plot because Poppy herself didn’t understand the differences between them all. She was kept in the dark about her own powers and the role she played with the Ascended her whole life up until this moment. So it only makes sense that when she learned new information we as readers learned it as well. All of the puzzle pieces kind of started clicking together and long story short, I’m glad I held off my impatience. So much information was written into the end of the story that really made it hard for me to put the book down.
This story was an interesting take on vampires/werewolves/magic, and I really enjoyed it (ok tbh any book involving vampires/werewolves/magic is like crack for me so of course I enjoyed it). We all knew something was off about the Ascended… and it doesn’t surprise me that what they were doing to people was ultimately wrong. I liked how they made it into a religion in order to hide historical facts and to convince the mass population that what they were doing was “right” (hmmmm organized religion much? Reminder: I grew up Catholic so I understand how a lot of history can be twisted in the interests of the Church). The Atlantians were made out to be the bad guys to cover up for the Ascended, and I honestly don’t fault any of the Descenters for trying to revolt from that creepy way of life.
What we still don’t understand is the Maiden’s role in all of this. At the end of the book, we learn that one of Poppy’s parents had to be Atlantian, which kind-of-sort-of explains why Poppy has powers. I’m thinking that the first Maiden was also part Atlantian; therefore, she was used during the Ascension ritual for some reason and that is when she died… it has to have something to do with her powers (otherwise they’d just continue using the Atlantians they already have captive, like what happened to Hawke). Maybe she takes away the pain of the people of the Ascension and makes them all feel good while they turn into Ascended? Just a guess… Though I’m confident we’ll learn more about her importance in the next novel.
Let’s talk characters. Poppy is a baddie and I loved her character development throughout this book. She grew up oppressed because she was thought to be “the Maiden”, but she herself didn’t understand what exactly made her this way. Her rebellious streaks made me happy, and as the story goes on we can see her start to realize that she did not want to be the Maiden and live for other people. Poppy was not afraid of fighting or getting in trouble, and she was constantly pushing her boundaries because she wanted to live her life how she wanted to, and not just live for the Ascended’s future. I mean, doesn’t every girl want this for herself? I stan this development. Plus, she has dealt with so much loss throughout her life… from her parents’ brutal murder, to her brother’s Ascension, and finally Vikter’s awful death… each loss played an important role in her character development as well.
Moving on to Hawke… or should I say his Highness? He was everything, and his respect and admiration for Poppy made me a fan immediately. I definitely was suspicious of him from the start, especially as the author dropped significant clues about his extra abilities along the way. I think around halfway through the book I started wondering if he was indeed the Dark One… but I wasn’t sure where his relationship with Poppy was going. It was obvious he was very into her, but why???? I don’t believe he was using her… he might have started out that way but he himself admitted that he connected with her from the start and couldn’t go through with his initial plan of turning her over to the Queen. While he has definitely done some pretty bad things in the past, and will probably continue to be bad in the next book, I really don’t care because we all love our tall, handsome, dark-haired bad boys.
Booktok recommendations strike again with an excellent story in From Blood and Ash. I cannot WAIT to start the next book, so stay tuned for that review coming soon!