A Shadow in the Ember
by Jennifer L Armentrout
Published by Blue Box Press
Book 1 in the Flesh and Fire Series
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.
A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L Armentrout is the much anticipated first book in her Flesh and Fire series, which is a prequel spin-off of her incredibly popular Blood and Ash series. It centers around Seraphina, who was promised to become Consort to the Primal of Death before she was even conceived, in a desperation to save the Kingdom of Lasania from a rot that was killing crops. But Sera isn't born to just become Nyktos's Consort ; she is also trained to become an assassin, and end the rot for good. The only way to kill a Primal: make him fall in love, and become his weakness. Trained to be a deadly weapon, and seductress, she is confident she can save her kingdom. Only Nyktos isn't as she was trained to believe, and his words and touches seduce her. No matter her feelings, she must bring down the Primal of Death, and save her kingdom from a slow and brutal death, no matter what it does to her in the end.
So Jennifer Armentrout promised ASITE would give Blood and Ash fans some answers ... and boy did she deliver. ASITE .... was ... amazing! Here is why below:
Characters: I worried that Nyktos and Sera would be too much like Casteel and Poppy, but Jennifer did an amazing job making her ASITE characters unique, while still blending in some personality/physical aspects that Poppy inherits as their granddaughter. Of course, there were some similarities when it came to banter, but I could get over that. Both Nyktos's and Sera's character arcs and growth was lovely, and I can't wait to see where these two go.
Plot: Holy shit, this book was RICH with plot. We get lots of information that is important in both series' Blood and Ash and Flesh and Fire. We get lots of action - and I mean, well written, clear action that plays out in your head like a movie - yet involves things I have NEVER seen or read before. We get quiet moments, where our characters bond with one another strengthens. The best part though, is how its written, combining all these moments into a flawless flow. I never felt bored. I never felt like something was written for the sake of giving readers information, or for a steamy moment. It just worked. It felt natural.
Romance: I love romance, and ASITE didn't disappoint. Nyktos and Sera's chemistry was ON FIRE. The whole book. Just ... wow. Their romance is obviously expected - but it doesn't happen the way I thought it would, which I loved. There were moments I was fucking swooning, and moments I was bawling (specifically towards the end). With the romance, we get a side of steamy, and oh. My. God. This book was HOT without being over the top.
Jennifer Armentrout hit the ball out of the part once again with this spin off of her Blood and Ash. While there are definite similarities between From Blood and Ash and A Shadow in the Ember when it comes to personality traits and banter, and a similar romance arc (just with switched roles), there is enough differences that makes this story unique - despite it being in the same world. The way this book ends, not only does it have my head filling with theories (which I will post below, hidden in a spoiler tag, so I can compare when the next book comes out), but has me eagerly awaiting the next ASITE book ... which I hope comes out next year, because I am not okay, and how dare you, Jennifer? :)
Below are my theories on what is coming in the next Flesh and Fire book, and Blood and Ash - because while different series', they are intertwined. Only read if you are caught up on the Blood and Ash series, AND have read ASITE. Highlight the text below to read.
We know, because of Blood and Ash, that Ash/Nyktos and Sera do end up with one another, and have twin sons - Malec and Ires. But I don't think its a happily ever after ... yet. I think that while we are lead to believe that Isbeth is the big bad, but I think ultimately its going to be Kolis. I think that while they were able to overpower most of the "bad" Gods (as Jennifer's list of the God's line up with Ash's court that she posted a while back), they were only able to contain Kolis. Maybe the reason they all entered a deep sleep was because it was the only way to keep Kolis contained until the later couple in the prophecy (Casteel and Poppy) were born, and they had full power to defeat him.
Sera is going to wake up and kick some serious ass in the next Blood and Ash book. Sera thought to herself that if anyone hurt her children or any of her decedents, that she would come back from the dead and kill them. Poppy is going to war against her mother, who is batshit crazy and cruel. Things are going to happen, and when all seems lost, I think Sera will step in and fuck shit up.
I think/hope that Tawny is Jadis ... and Isbeth did something to her, and make her think she is a mortal named Tawny. We get so much draken in ASITE, especially with Jadis and Reaver. I don't think that is a coincidence. We know that Ires and Jadis ran off to the mortal realm, and have gone missing. We know that Ires has been captured by Isbeth, and is in that cage Poppy and crew encountered at the end of Gilded Bones. So we can assume Isbeth took Jadis as well. But where is she? She could have been killed ... but I truly hope not. Maybe she tries to turn Tawny into a revenant to subdue Poppy, and instead, it undoes whatever was done to her, and she gets her memories and form back? If she IS in fact Jadis, I think Ires and her both withheld that she is a draken, because there is no way Isbeth would have handed Poppy a draken. Anyway, I need to believe that Jadis is still alive, because I love her, dammit!
It's going to come out that Ector is working with Kolis. I guarantee, Ector is the one who pushed that human to try to kill Sera, and that is why he killed him before Ash could question him.
<--------------------------end of spoilers------------------------------------------
Ash kissing Sera to hide themselves from the gods
Ash's reaction to Sera accidently stabbing him
Sera bringing the wolf back
"Show me what you like" ... HOT
Ezra hugging Sera
Ash's reveal, and him getting that Sera wasn't begging for Tavius's life, but wanting to end it herself
Ash helping Sera wash her hair
Ash saving Sera when she went into the woods
Reaver teaming up with Sera to be nosy
Ash killing that draken after telling him to shut the fuck up. Awesome
Sera's "Don't tell me how how I feel" speech
Nektas knowing that Sera never would have went through with her plans
Ash feeding from Sera and the sex OH MY GOD
Nyktos going fucking Primal and killing the Gods that were there for Sera
Ash and Sera finding out about the prophecy
Sera: “Are you going to let me go?”
Ash: “I don’t know. I’m not sure I’m ready for whatever it is that you’re about to do.” Sera: “Have I given you any indication that I care about annoying you?”
Ash: “I have a feeling you don’t. But I’m hoping you discovered whatever smidgen of common sense exists inside you and have decided to use it.” Sir Holland: “While his behavior towards that animal was abominable, blackening the Heir of Lasania’s eye and then threatening to use the whip in the same manner as he did was not the wisest choice.”
Sera: “But it was the most satisfactory,” Sir Holland: “You’re not unworthy. You’re not a curse or anything like that. You carry the ember of life in you. You carry hope within you. You carry the possibility of a future,” Odetta: “Death wants nothing to do with life. None of you can be surprised.” Ash: "What drowns out that fear and pushes you to run so eagerly toward death?" Ash: “You stabbed me.”
Sera: “I did.”
I took another step back, throat now too dry to swallow. Ash: “In the chest,”
he tacked on. The front of his tunic was torn, but there was no stain of blood. Nothing. If it weren’t for the smear on the blade, I wouldn’t have believed I had actually done it.
Ash: “Almost in my heart.”
A tremble ran through my hands.
Sera: “Well, it seems it had very little impact on you.”
Which was terrifying on a whole other level.
Ash: “It stung. Deeply.” Ash: “Color me surprised. I expected you to have some sort of retort.”
Sera: “I’m trying to employ common sense and remain somewhat quiet.”
Ash: “How is that working out for you?”
Sera: “Not very well, to be honest.” Ash: “Come now, do you believe someone who harbored ill will towards you would’ve announced their presence?”
Sera: “No. I believe that someone who doesn’t, would. All others would end up with a dagger in their chest.” The corners of my lips turned down.
Sera: “That is if I had a dagger.”
Ash: “Perhaps you would still have a dagger if you didn’t go around stabbing people.”
I actually still had one. Tucked in my boot. Not a shadowstone blade, but a slender iron one. However, that was beside the point.
Sera: “I don’t go around stabbing people.”
Usually. Ash: “That’s not how it works. There are things that gods and Primals can and cannot do." Curiosity sparked through me.
Sera: “Are you telling me that not even a Primal can do as they please?”
Ash: “I didn’t say that. A Primal can do whatever they want.”
I threw up my hands.
Sera: “If that’s not the most contradictory statement I’ve heard in my entire life, I don’t know what is.” Sera: “What does liessa mean?”
The god didn’t answer for what felt like a small eternity.
Ash: “It has different meanings to different people.”
The eather pulsed in his eyes, swirling once more through the silver.
Ash: “But all of them mean something beautiful and powerful.” Ezra: “Did you kill that man?”
Smoothing out the skirts of the gown, I crossed my ankles.
Sera: “I believe he slipped and fell upon my blade.”
Ezra: “Was it his throat that fell upon your blade?”
Sera: “Odd, right?”
Ezra: “Odd, indeed.” I didn’t cry. Hadn’t since the night I’d failed. But I had a soft spot for animals—well, except for barrats. Animals didn’t judge. They didn’t care about worthiness. They didn’t choose to use or hurt another. They simply lived and expected to either be left alone or loved. That was all. Sir Holland: “What you can do is a gift, a wonderful one that is a part of who you are. But it could become dangerous for you if others were to learn that you could possibly bring back their loved ones. It could anger the gods and Primals, for you to decide who should return to life and who should not. It is a gift given by the King of Gods, one that should be held close to your heart and only ever used when you’re ready to become who you were destined to be. Until then, you are not a Primal. Play as one, and the Primals might think you are.” Sera: “Pervert.”
Ash: “Guilty.” Ash: “It’s amazing to witness.”
Sera: “What is?”
Ash: “These moments when you suddenly remember what I am. Is this another attempt to use common sense?”
Ash: “Is it not going well again?”
Sera: “Not exactly.” Ash: “Did I not tell you to go home? That this does not concern you?”
Sera: “You did.”
I ducked under the creature’s arm.
Ash: “I have it handled.”
Ash cleaved through the midsection of another Hunter.