Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Narrator: Stina Nielsen
Series: Flesh and Fire #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on October 19, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 24 hours, 21 minutes
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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 Ember is the first book the Flesh and Fire series which is also a prequel to the Blood and Ash series. You should have read the first three books in the Blood and Ash series before jumping into this. I am a total rule breaker apparently since I’ve only read the first two books of that series, but I knew enough enjoy it. I probably am just missing out on some of the plot correlations but I’m hoping to catch up with that soon. It is a Persephone and Hades retelling without the kidnapping so I was interested to see what a god of death would look like in this world.
A Shadow in Ember is set many years before Blood and Ash. The land of Lasania is dying; the blight as it has been called, encroaches on the land a little more everyday. Seraphina has a chance to remedy that. She was promised to the primal of death a decade before her birth, to be his consort. Most think that is all there is to her destiny, but she knows her job is to make him fall in love with her and when he is weakened she must kill him. That is the only way to save her home.
Sera is pretty easy to like. She is headstrong and tries to help those around her. She is a fighter for the people and there are some mysteries to be solved. Like why is the blight eating the land and why are some of the gods randomly killing people in Lasania. Sera meets Nyktos on a night she sees the horrific deaths of a family. He didn’t know what he was getting into when he stopped her from trying to confront two gods. She is a tempersome creature who likes to fight with him more than anything else. I did like how the heat between them was almost instantaneous as they bantered with each other.
Nyktos wasn’t ever going to claim his consort. He tried to let her have the life he thought she wanted, but after spending time with her that is out of the question. He has so many enemies; it is not safe for a mortal he cares about to be in his court. Still Seraphina has a way of getting under his skin and making him make unwise decisions. She might just be his undoing.
I really felt for Sera, how hard is it to know that you will have to kill someone, even more so if you have to sacrifice someone you are growing to love. Nyktos/Ash seems like a good guy in the grand scheme of things. He is a god capable of terrible things but he is also much more kind than most of the gods. He still has some humanity left in him which makes Sera’s task all the more troubling. I spent the entire book wondering if she could ever really go through with it.
There are people from the Blood and Ash series in this book and we get more of the history of the gods, the ascended and can compare the happenings in this series to what they become later in the timeline. It is great seeing the Draken (dragons) at multiple stages of their lifecycle and how they are so protective of Nyktos. I really liked how the realm of death worked for both gods and mortals and how both Nyktos and Sera were so similar in they had been both been so alone before finding each other.
I have one small complaint about this book. It is long, like 700 pages long. Armentrout uses the same storytelling technique of Blood and Ash series where a lot of the world is explained in Q&A type sessions. There are action moments too but conversations and discussions are really how we get details about much of this world. I really like the show me in fantasy much more than the tell me. Still there are enough steamy drawn out lusty moments between Ash and Sera to make this hotter than many books in this genre and put it firmly in the Romantasy category.
I will be very interested to see where the author takes this series next and how it ties in with the Blood and Ash series.
Stina Nielsen was also the narrator for the Blood and Ash series. She does well with the characters and I like her innocent portrayal of Sera and of Poppy in the other series as just curious girls who have also been trained to kill. She does a great job with the more sultry moments of the book and I have enjoyed her performance of the story. Even through the slow parts of the book she is able to keep me interested in the story.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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