From Blood and Ash Series Review


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warning: Blood, Violence, Smut, Death, Grief, Death


The From Blood and Ash series is a strong one. It rivals t hat of A Court of Thorns and Roses except more violent and edgy. This series is full of blood, teeth, and sex. From Blood and Ash is a different take on the usual lore of vampires and werewolves, and includes gods and godly power. 


  • Believable characters
  • Well developed world-building
  • Strong plot line


  • Info-dumps
  • Identity crisis 
  • Altered map midway through the series (added more land)
  • Slow paced at times



Poppy is declared Maiden by the Queen of Solis, meaning she must remain pure; she can’t talk to anyone, no one can see her face, she can only read history books, and she has to basically live the life of a recluse. But what is the purpose of the Maiden that warrants such extremes? Well, the Maiden is chosen by the gods. The accession of others is linked to her and without her, those people cannot ascend and become Ascended, an elite group of individuals composed on only the first born children. 

However, Poppy doesn’t quite fit into her role as Maiden. She can play the role, but she is rebellious and pushes her luck on what she can get away, i.e. sneaking out, reading various books, learning to fight, showing her face, etc. This rebellion streak lands her in The Red Pearl, which is a bar of sorts. Here she meets the famous Hawke. They come close to doing the deed, but Hawke is whisked away right before. This leaves Poppy questioning what she wants and how she wants to live her life.

Later on, after the assassination of her body guard, Rylan, Hawke is appointed to protect Poppy along side her other beloved body guard, Viktor. As time passes, Poppy and Hawke become close. Hawke pushes the limits of what he can do with Poppy, such as complimenting her, touching her, etc. It all comes to a head the night of the Blood Rite.Poppy and Hawke become intimate, but Viktor catches on. He chastises Hawke, which the body guard then storms off. This leads to an over flow of built up emotion in Poppy. she expresses her concerns, her wishes, and her distaste for her role as Maiden to Viktor. But before he can say anything, the celebration is ambushed by Descenters, followers of the Dark One.

During this ambush, Poppy shows her hand in her fighting abilities by defending herself and killing Lord Mazeen. During the attack, Viktor is killed defending Poppy and Hawke shows up too late to help. This event initiates a few things: 1) the death of the Duke and Lord Mazeen; 2) the Queen of Solis summoning Poppy to the capital for protection, thus having Hawke escort Poppy there; and 3) the end of all Poppy knows and holds dear. 

It is during her trip to the capital with Hawke and a few other guards that Poppy is exposed to the truth, the lies, and her desires. In New Haven, Poppy decides she will leave the life of the Maiden behind to be with Hawke, but this is before she learns who he truly is: Casteel Da’Neer, Prince of Atlantia. This is after she fully gives herself to him and before she learns the truth of his plans and the real conflict between Atlantia and Solis. 

Ultimately, Casteel has kidnapped Poppy, killed over Masadonia guards, and plans to use her as leverage to save his brother from the Queen of Solis’s grasp. But that doesn’t quite work out. Casteel falls for Poppy and instead decides they will marry. Poppy fights the marriage proposal and the truth that the Ascended are behind the Craven attacks, are responsible for killing the third sons and daughters, and have blamed all of their wrong doings on Atlantia.

Within days, Poppy, Casteel, and most of New Haven are on the road to head back to Atlantia. They stop off in Spessa’s End before continuing through the mountains. It is here, in Spessa’s End, that Casteel and Poppy fall for each other and come to terms with what has happened. The two are married before meeting Casteel’s parents, this way his parents can’t force him to use Poppy nor can they use Poppy as an example to the Blood Crown (Queen of Solis). 

However, while here Poppy learns that her abilities to feel pain have evolved to feeling other emotions and even healing. The Ascended are aware that Poppy is missing and confront the Atlantians at Spessa’s end, which they present an ultimatim. Give Poppy over or face the consequences of an attack. Of course, Poppy and Casteel decide to fight, which results in the Death of the Duchess. 

Since the Blood Crown is aware of Poppy’s location, they high-tail it to Atlantia. Once there, a group of people attack Poppy in one of the temples of the gods. In self defense, she activates a power she didn’t know she had, thus promptly killing the attackers. It is during this event that the king and queen of Atlantia, Casteel, and all of Atlantia’s citizens realize that Poppy is a deity, or descendant of the gods. 

Before the attack and Poppy can be deescalated, she is knocked out and kidnapped. Poppy ends up chained in catacombs designed to detain deities and gods alike. It is here, that she learns Alister, a trust friend of Casteel and crew, and Commander Jansenis behind the attack. He plans to give Poppy over to the Blood Crown to prevent war. He states that Poppy is a threat to Atlantia and she must either be killed or given to the Blood Crown as a truce of sorts. 

During the meeting with Solis representatives to give Poppy over, Casteel and crew attacks both Unseenand Solis reps. to get Poppy back. But Poppy is fatally injured during the attack, thus leading Casteel to ascend Poppy, something that is expressly forbidden. 

Come to find out, Poppy hasn’t ascended like everyone else. She’s still herself and relatively normal. Later, it is discovered that Poppy is a god instead of a deity. Thus nulling the current ruler’s of Atlantia’s claim to the thrown and appointing Poppy as Queen.

With her new found information and the lead her brother gave her before the attack on Spessa’s End, the group heads to Iliseeum, home of the gods. It is here that Poppy attempts to persuade Nykots to grant her the power to request the draken’s aid in fighting against the Blood Crown. 

But is doesn’t go as planned, and Poppy and crew leave with no answer on how to stop the Blood Crown nor draken. Solis and Atlantia are on the verge of war. To prevent this, Poppy, Casteel, and crew meet with the Blood Crown to negotiate. The Blood Crown demands that she lay waste to Casteel’s mother, who started all of this when she poisioned her, and claim Atlantia as her own. Of course, Poppy and Casteel refuse and demand she back down and denounce her throne. 

During this meeting, Casteel’s brother is shown to be alive and well, Tawny was not ascended, she discovers the Blood Crown is her mother, and the Blood Crown has Regenerates, beings that can’t be killed. But things quickly turn sour. In a display of power, which the Blood Crown claims she is a god herself, she kills Ian. Poppy losses her mind and grip on her power and attempts to kill the Blood Crown. Instead, the Blood Crown attacks Poppy and in order to stop the attack, Casteel gives himself up as trade. The Blood Crown accepts and Poppy and the rest of the crew are let go. 

In a heart broken rage upon waking up, Poppy goes to attack Oak Amberbut Milicent, a Regenerate stops her and tells her the Blood Crown has left. This then sets into motion Poppy ruling alone with Kieran’s aid and their plan of attack to claim Solis lands and save Casteel. 

The Atlantian armies are ordered to take Solis cities, to let the civilians go, take hostage guards who stand down, and kill any guards who continue to protect the Blood Crown. This way Atlantia is seen as liberators instead of the enemy. In the mean time, Poppy, Kieran, and Reaver set out to rescue Casteel. 

Instead, the trio is caught and broght to the queen directly. The Blood Crown wants to negotiate with Poppy. Her offer? Malek, the queen’s lover, in exchange for Casteel. The group escapes the Blood Crown with the help of Malik, Casteel’s brother, recuses Casteel, and hides away. However, they are caught again and the negotiation is now a demand, with a mark on Kieran indicatng a time limit before he dies if Malek is not brought to her. 

The group retrieves Malek and as a safety precaution for Kieran’s life, the three (Poppy, Casteel, and Kieran) perform the joining, thus linking their lives to Poppy. When presenting the Blood Crown with Malek, the queen then proceeds to kill her lover, unleashing an unimaginable threat: Kolis and his hounds. It is during this fight, as all her friends are dying, that Poppy summons Nykots’s Mistress by name– the Primal of Life. 

Poppy’s friends are revived, the death hounds killed, the Blood Crown slain, but the threat doesn’t end there. Poppy discovers she is the Primal of both Death and Life and now that Kolis is awaken and free, he threatens to end the world as they know it. The story ends there with the threat of world destruction and it will be up to Poppy, Casteel, and crew to stop it.


Whew, now that was the shortened and relatively vague plot line of all 4 books in the series. The plot actually dives deep and at times gets convoluted, especially with Poppy’s deity/god status– but we’ll dive into that later. 

To start, I’d like to cover all the negatives before switching over to the positives of the plot line.


Condensed Books

The series truly could have been shorted to 3 books.The Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (the second book) is mainly a filler and could have been divided and added to the first and third books. I’m perfectly fine with reading 500-600 pages books, but when nothing happens in the book, then something is wrong. And that is exactly what the second book was. Nothing happened and the same questions and monologs kept getting rehashed– do I love Casteel? Why are my powers evolving? etc.


To piggyback off shortening the series to 3 books, the pacing of the books was okay. They were all relatively slow, especially the first and second books, but I found them enjoyable (maybe not so much for book #2). From Blood and Ash took its time setting up for everything that was to come. We got a good sense of the environment, the characters, and the engrained beliefs in Poppy and the citizens. It was a great setup for the rest of the series. 

A War of Two Queens Ending

While the series started strong, it ended poorly. At the end of A War of Two Queens, we get a massive info-dump of Poppy actually being a primal, what’s to come, and practically the entire story of why everything is as it is. It was too much in the last 20 pages, and we still didn’t get a satisfying ending. We don’t know what happened after the final battle. It literally ends with the giant info-dump, which promptly set up for the prequel series. 

The Joining

Now, I’d like to discuss the Joining. Originally I was all for it, but as the series progressed I found that I adored PoppyCas. The Joining ruined that relationship for me. I have nothing against polyamorous relationships, but the way both Cas and Kieran were reduced to tools for Poppy and to expand their lifespan was disappointing. Kieran deserves better than to be the third wheel in a relationship. He deserves someone who will love him as much as Cas loves Poppy. So now my question becomes, what is the new dynamic? How is this relationship going to work? What if Kieran finds someone? 

The Joining so could have been them just linking their lifespans together for the sake of saving Kieran. And it was mentioned time and time again that the Joining didn’t have to be sexual, but it ended up that way. I think it would have been better to have the three of them join and just leave it at that. There didn’t need to be more to it.


I didn’t understand the importance of the Unseen/Gyrm in the series besides having a convenient plot device to cause disruptions. They didn’t add anything to the plot outside of initially capturing Poppy, especially the Gyrm. They were brought up on how they were created, but no one knew why, and then just abandoned. Like, what? Why would you do that?

Tawny’s Powers

Also, what about Tawyn’s powers and weird physical change? I know the stone used to stab her should have killed her, but it didn’t. It felt like this change and her vision of Viktor was just there for convince, just so Poppy would be pointed in a new direction and wonder about her past again. I didn’t like it nor care for it. Honestly, having Tawyn experience this vision and physical change seemed like a cop-out of sorts.


Regardless of the issues I had with the series, the overall plot is strong. The idea and supporting plot devices are actually set up really well and foreshadowed accordingly. Sometimes they are predictable or a bit eye roll-y, but it’s solid work. I enjoyed the creativity and magic of it all. For me, I can’t predict plots well, so the twists, turns, and endings were always fun and surprising.


From Blood and Ash encompassed many of my favorite tropes such as:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • One bed
  • Secret and lies
  • Forbidden love
  • Soul mates
  • Tragic pasts
  • Sassy heroine
  • Tall, dark, and handsome love interest


Poppy Balfour Da’Neer

Poppy is a strong, female protagonist who is well developed and grows throughout the series. She’s a fiery woman who can fend for herself and take a lot of shit thrown her way. Like seriously, she takes everything like a champ in this series. I’d break down at some point, but she doesn’t. Poppy has a strong moral compass and wants to protect the innocent at all costs.


Identity Crisis

The biggest problem she faces is her identity crisis. Poppy goes from being a mortal Maiden to a deity, to a goddess, to a primal. An identity per book! This, for me, caused so much confusion and overloaded my brain trying to process what Poppy is and what she is capable of. On top of this crisis, she hardly got time to process whom she was ever since leaving Masadonia. I wish we could have experienced her attempting to cope with this before whisking her off on another info-dump of a journey. She really didn’t get to experience the freedom and self-exploration she wanted. I mean, to an extent she did, but not how I would have liked to have seen it. 

Violent Streak

She was also quite violent at the beginning of the series, like unimaginably so! I personally didn’t understand why she wanted to stab and kill everyone she disagreed with. Maybe people actually have these thoughts, but I’m not one of them, so it’s harder for me to connect with that kind of behavior. To piggyback off the violence, I don’t believe she was as good at fighting as the book claimed when she had to learn in secret. No real-world experience or anything, but she’s an expert a dagger fighting and the bow. IDK, not realistic to me.


Another problem I had with Poppy’s development was how powerful she became. It was almost too powerful. Casteel and Kieran, who were strong and powerful in their own right, just became an accessory to Poppy towards the end of the third book and definitely the fourth book. This didn’t do any of these 3 characters justice. There should have been a cut-off for how powerful Poppy was and who she actually is. Stopping at her being a goddess should have been enough. I seriously don’t see the benefit of her being a primal. It’s overkill. 

Not So Sheltered

Before moving on to things I loved about Poppy, I’d like to talk about how she didn’t come across as a woman sheltered and isolated from society and others for most of her life. Yes, she had Viktor, Rylan, and Tawny, but even then she shouldn’t have been as strong-headed and outspoken. There should have been some hesitancy or reserve when handling situations, but there wasn’t. So, that removed some of the believability from Poppy at first.


Cas/Hawke Dilemma

Problems aside, there were some things about Poppy that I loved, such as her passion, her moral compass, and her sass. However, one of my favorite and most realistic aspects about Poppy was her dilemma with the whole Cas and Hawke are the same, but different person bit. It’s absolutely relatable and it was portrayed amazingly. I really got the sense that Poppy struggled with this distinction and still had feelings for Hawke, but not Cas. Especially if Cas is the enemy she was groomed to hate and fear.

Questions Anyone?

Another thing I loved about Poppy is her never-ending questions. I know other readers may not like this aspect, but I adore it. I myself ask a lot of questions, so her questions helped me get a better understanding of the world, what people were feeling, the situation, etc. And for someone who has been sheltered most of her life, it makes sense that she would ask so many questions. She can finally do that without punishment!


Poppy overall is a badass. She’s brave, strong, and doesn’t shy away from tough situations. I love her ideology about how she won’t ask her people to do something that even she wouldn’t do. That’s admirable. She’s truly a compassionate person who just wants to live, be herself, and be with Casteel. 

Casteel Da’Neer

Oh, Casteel. Where do I begin? He’s a charismatic asshole who is protective, yet on the verge of being possessive. The Casteel Da’Neer that we see is a result of years of trauma and his attempt to cope with what he went through, along with the loss of his brother and the threat to his kingdom. Needless to say, he has a lot on his plate.


Character Growth

While I love Casteel, there were a few issues I had with his character/this “growth.”As the series progresses, Cas becomes more of a side piece and accessory to Poppy. He’s this strong Atlantian than can take on hoards of Craven, but he is in Poppy’s shadow in book #3. Yeah, he saves her life in book #3 and holds his own, but he’s pushed to the side soon after. 

Compulsion Ability

And what of his compulsion ability? It’s brought up in book #1 and not used again until books #3/#4. That’s such a waste of power and opportunity. He may have not liked to use it, but show us a situation where he has to. This was such a cool ability that never really got utilized and it’s disappointing.

Firstly, he trusted Poppy way too soon. For someone who planned to use Poppy as a bargaining chip, he told her a lot of information about Atlantia. Even afterward, Poppy was volatile and couldn’t be trusted with what she planned to do, but that didn’t stop Cas.


A Touch of Insanity

Casteel is your typical “bad boy” who is “tall, dark, and handsome.” Nothing wrong with it because I fall for this type all the time. He is a bit more interesting though, because, while he is sane and intelligent, he also has an edge of insanity. Which makes him that much more believable and adds an incredible amount of subtle depth. He’s loyal and cares deeply for his loved ones. He wants to better the lives of Atlantians, even if he had no chance at the crown before, by taking Spessa’s End and building it up.


I adore Kieran. He is such an honest, loyal, and stoic character. I love his dry sense of humor, how he grows to care for Poppy, too, and his friendship with Cas. He is the definition of a true friend. Kieran adds that much-needed connection to the rest of the group outside of Poppy. Without him, I’m afraid we wouldn’t get that strong connection to Netta or Delano. 

Of course, it took a while for Kieran to show himself and warm up to Poppy in the series, but once he did he was set. The only thing that bothered me about Kieran is how he was mainly used as a tool for the Joining in the 4th book. Yes, he was Poppy’s rock and the two found solace in each other in Cas’s absence, but his abilities, his perception of things, and his interests were all confined to the Joining and it just wasn’t right. He deserved more than that. 


We don’t get to see Tawny much besides, but she seems like a good friend, a true friend. She’s comical and supportive of Poppy. Tawny reassured her with Poppy had nightmares and was by her side as much as she could. I like Tawny. What I don’t like are the weird powers she gained and the appearance change. It just didn’t make sense to me. Yeah, the metal used against her can kill, but it didn’t, so what happened? Why did Viktor come to her? Why did her appearance change? I have so many questions and it honestly seemed like her come back was that of convenience to further the plot.

Netta, Delano, & Others

So there are a few side characters of the PoppyCas gang, like Netta, Delano, and…and who else? Besides those two, the other side characters are not really memorable. I seriously cannot recall anyone else’s name. On top of this, they just appear at the end of book 2 and into book 3. There’s no back story for their relationship to Cas or anything. They’re just there. I have no emotional ties to them. They don’t mean anything to me (besides Netta and Delano of course). 

A lot of these characters have the same personality, too. If you asked me to distinguish between any of them, even Netta and Delano, I can’t. They all blend together. Those two just stand out because they’ve been involved in the plot longer. It’s honestly disappointing because I love a good, solid side character (we are counting Kieran as the main character, otherwise this would be him).

Valyn & Illena

Valyn and Illeana seem like decent rulers. I adore Valyn and his relationship with Poppy. He cares and just wants what is best for his son. He’s honorable and caring. Illeana I liked, but didn’t. If she was just upfront with the situation she caused with Malek and Isbeth, then maybe this would have been solved much sooner. However, she deserved every right to be heartbroken and distraught by the adultery Malek committed. That was her husband and he cheated on her with another. But Illena did not have the right to try to kill Isbeth, kill her son, and imprison Malek. That was extreme and utterly wrong. So while I can understand her situation, I can’t commend her actions.

Milly & Malik

Okay, so it’s intriguing that Malik falls in love with Milly and stays to protect her, but what is he protecting her from? Is she being tortured if she has favor with Isbeth? Their relationship is vague and an awkward twist in the story that felt it was thrown in just because there was a prophecy of three. I liked it, but I didn’t at the same time. I want more information. I want to know how all this started, and maybe we’ll get that in a different book.

Isbeth (Blood Crown)

Isbeth was ruthless and so manipulative. Although she had every right to be heartbroken and hate Illena, she didn’t have the right to create a society that thrived off fear and the blood of innocents. She could have created something else, but instead, she built Solis as a tool to destroy Atlantia and erect revenge on Illena. 

Even with this being said Isbeth was a stellar villain. She made you hate her, but also understand her motives at the same time. Isbeth had a clear goal in mind and she would do anything to achieve it. Which I am all for, but it hurt and killed so many innocents that she couldn’t be redeemed. 


Armentrout definitely has away with words. Her descriptions and scenes are strong, with the exception of a few scenes– i.e. the Joining and A War of Two Queens ending. With those particular scenes, it was hard to tell what was going on. The descriptions were vague or inconsistent. For example, the final battle of A War of Two Queens it seemed like the crew was closer to the Blood Crown than what was described a few scenes later. Even the description of  the Bone Temple was hard to envision.


There’s only 3 major issues I had with the writing for the series: 

  • Info-dumping and 
  • monologs.
  • Poppy’s identity 


The info-dumping, especially in the last 2 books, was atrocious. It’s like mid-series Armentrout decided to do a prequel series or something changed and had to make up for the lack of foreshadowing towards it. Sometimes there was too much information being thrown at me and I would honestly zone out. I couldn’t retain all of it. This made me forget and question things later that was already explained. The information didn’t come organically and it should have. 


Now, the monologs. I know other readers had issues with Poppy’s extremely long monologs, but for me, it fits. She’s been sheltered and prevented from talking to others, so it makes sense that she would think about it a lot and internalize it. Now, that being said, she didn’t have to do it all the time or repeatedly, especially in The Kingdom of Flesh and Fire. Even Cas did it in his POV. These monologs would drone on and I would zone out on those as well. So, while I understand it in some cases, it needed to be reined in. 

Poppy’s Identity

Poppy’s identity changes were too much. Not only could Poppy not settle into herself and learn about herself, but neither could the reader. There was always a dissidence between Poppy’s character and myself. Just when I was getting used to her abilities and mortality, everything changes. Now, it’s okay for the characters to speculate and find out Poppy is something more as time passes, but jeez. 4 different status changes, 2 of which happened in the same book (#3)! This whole thing convoluted the plot and made it difficult to keep things straight. I will say this is probably the only point in the plot that seemed shaky, this new goddess to primal reveal.


Regardless of these issues, Armentrout’s words enveloped me in the world of From Blood and Ash. I was able to escape for hours and enjoy the characters, their banter, and their journey. A magical world was created and expressed in a realistic and believable way, and I loved it. 

Naming Scheme

One thing I liked was the naming scheme and spelling of words. For someone who has to sound out words for pronunciation and spelling, Armentrouts mechanism worked for me. It was easy and simple, and I appreciated it. Yes, they may have been rehashing of other places or switching out letters in names, but it worked. It fit her world and the aesthetic. 

As a side note, I’d also like to bring up that I keep calling the series “From Ash and Blood” instead of “From Blood and Ash” because the title isn’t in alphabetical order. Am I the only one who has this issue?

Final Thoughts

I love the vampire/werewolf theme twist. As I’ve stated in one of my individual reviews, I actually never read the back of the book before purchasing it. I was solely convinced by book-stagram to buy it. And they did not let me down!

Overall, I enjoyed this series. I was happy to be fully immersed in a beautiful and horrific world that whisked me away from my every day life. The characters were realistic and lovable; they had me crying and laughing throughout the journey. The world-building was strong, even if Armentrout relied heavily on info-dumping and long, repetitive monologs. The world and magic system were still there. I wish things were smoothed out a bit in relation to the plot and Poppy’s identity, but it is what it is. I still enjoyed the books.

I’m still debating if I’ll continue the series if more books come out after this involving Poppy and Cas just because of how A War of Two Queens ended. However, I am willing to read the prequel books because I’m quite interested in how everything came about.

What did you think of the book? Did you like it or could you have done without it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Facebook Page  |  Goodreads TBR  |  Spicy Rating Scale  | Jennifer Armentrout’s Website 

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