A Shadow in the Ember
(Jennifer L. Armentrout)

*Humans tend to destroy things they don’t know or are afraid of.* – Seraphena Mierel (slightly changed)

My overall rating:

all in all: 5/10

story: 5/10

characters: 5/10

writing style: 6/10

What’s A Shadow in the Ember about?

Seraphena Mierel is used to being neglected, used to not being seen and used to being accused of the entire kingdom’s demise. And the only reason for that is an incident she actually didn’t have any control over: She was promised to the Primar of Death, but he refused her. Through the time, she became a person she doesn’t recognize anymore – a cruel and emotionless one, completely empty on the inside – a monster.

But when she meets Ash, a god from the shadow world, things change. She changes. She starts to feel again, like a good person, and also like a beautiful one. But there is a secret about Ash that is soon to be discovered which will turn her world upside down.

A Shadow in the Ember is the first book of the series Flesh and Fire. It is considered a prehistory of theBlood and Ash – series.

My opinion (merely small spoilers if not stated differently)

– the story  (5/10)

I gotta admit, I really enjoy fantasy and am over and over fascinated of the creativty some people, such as Jennifer L. Armentrout, have. The world she created is stunning and the story she told with the connections actually makes sense. And this is the reason I wanna state my huge respect to her, I could never think of such a story.

But, to be honest, the story itself didn’t thrill me. I wanted to know what would happen, yes (which is why I will also read the next books), but I wasn’t really intrigued by the story. It also bored me from time time. I often just kept reading because I wanted to know the ending. Additionally, I think the whole Ash – thing was pretty obvious and I just wanted Sera finally to realize that as well and see how the story would go on after that. But even after that, it was kinda … boring. There wasn’t that much of a change in Seras thinking, in her behaviour. It was always the same.

However, one of the main issues for wasn’t the sometimes-boring-part. It was the similiaries-part. The similarities between the Flesh and Fire – story and between the Blood and Ash – one.

Here’s a list of some I noticed while reading. (SPOILERS INCLUDED!!!!)
  • Casteel and Ash have a hidden identity at first, which is the cause of the entire following story
  • both Poppy & Casteel as well as Sera & Ash start an arranged marriage
  • there is a huge physical attraction between P & C and S & A
  • at first, P & C and S & A have a sexual relationship, which they consider as not meaning anything
  • but with the time, they develop feelings for one another and the relationship gets complicated and emotional
  • P & C and S & A are stronger connected than “just” love – P & C are heartmates, S & A are “like two souls meant to be one”
  • P (after being hit by an arrow) & S (after being scratched by a Gyrm) both nearly die and only survive thanks to C & A
  • after revealing A’s and C’s real identity, guards are positioned before S’s and P’s rooms
  • there is a connection between the males’ “species” and another one (primars and drakens, Atlantians and wolvens)
  • through the story, it is realized that both Sera and Poppy aren’t “normal beings” – instead, they are really powerful ones
  • it isn’t known by them what they are yet, just the enemies seemingly know the answer to that
  • the enemies produce the Ascended
  • ….
– the characters and their journey  (5/10)
Sera is impulsive, dutiful, curious, strong and is feeling a lot and deeply. Let’s start with the first point – impulsive. Throughout the book, there a few times in which she is doing what she wants in this moment, but regrets it afterwards. Although I sometimes got annoyed by her from time to time thoughtless behaviour, I appreciate that Jennifer L. Armentrout didn’t portay a perfect woman. A women who’s got everything under her control, because yes, I am probably a litlle bit too thoughtfull, but at times, I do sth I regret afterwards as well. And I like that the author didn’t try to make up a person with a certain character trait that is barely existing in the “real world”. Her impulsive innermost may be connected to the last characteristic I’ve mentioned – the point of her feeling a lot. She is, she truly is. You could sense that quite often in the book, even though she is scared of being a monster, of being cruel. 

And I won’t deny that she is violent, but she is able to control that. I don’t wanna put the violence in a better light, because it was sometimes a little bit too much to me and I don’t like that Jennifer L. Armentrout is putting this like it’s normal and reasonable. Sera was awfully treated by some, yes, and they deserve her actions, but I still think you should keep in mind that it’s still violence. Whatever the cause may be. It’s violence. But back to the point I was trying to make about her strong feelings despite being cruel. She is feeling, just the point that she is worrying about her not feeling anything prooves that she is actually feeling a lot. Because Ash may be right – a monster doesn’t really care about being one or not. (Although this doesn’t excuse some actions, but this is a different topic) A monster wouldn’t have thought about her duty that much, it simply would have done it. A monster wouldn’t have helped Ezra this one time, it wouldn’t have been her business. 

And I could continue this list. When speaking of duty, one can say that she is extremely dutiful. She is trying to do what’s supposedly best for her kingdom and not for her. She is. No one can deny that, when you ask me. And about her being curious…. I think, this is out of question. As well as her strength.

So yes, in general, I don’t have that much against her as a person, the only critical point is her violence and how “right” it is presented in the book. But what I miss is her journey, her development. When I read a book, the development of a character is a really important point to me. Of course they should stay themselves, which Sera did, but they should develop as well. And I missed that. Her biggest struggles – feeling like a monster and not enjoying to live – aren’t being reduced throughout the book. They stay present. Like they are in the beginning.

I don’t have that much to say about Ash as I did about Sera. They also have a lot in common – both are feeling a lot, they are dutiful and strong. He may want to hide the point about feeling a lot, but as a reader, it is pretty obvious. And I like that, feeling is one of the strongest things in live. If nobody felt anything, life would be dreadful. His dutifulness is sensed throughout the entire book, too. And whatever exactly happened to him in the past in addition to the things the author already told us, it only made him stronger. Other words to describe his character that come to my mind are independent and forgiving.

I can’t say a lot about his journey. I mean, the story is written from Seras POV, so it’s difficult to get what’s going on in his head. Yes, once, we got to know that he became more at peace with himself. But this is the only thing we know. I wish we’d be aware of more.

But, like in my reflection about the story, the similiarities are the major issue here. Let me list some of them I noticed (INCLUDING SPOILERS!!!!):

  • Sera (when murdering someone) and Poppy (when being humiliated) feel nothing when certain situations come up, they feel empty
  • S & P are violent and tend to stab A & C – which they like
  • S & P are good at fighting and not afraid of using that skill
  • S (Sir Holland) & P (Viktor) were taught at fighting in secret by a man who they both consider as someone of their family, even their father
  • S & P get harassed and humiliated to the extreme by a male person with a high position on the property
  • when A & C notice the latter, their response is … intense and pretty violent
  • A & C are both former “prisoners” and were tortured
  • A & C are able to impose their will on others, but they use this ability as rare as possible when it comes to S & P
  • S & P smell like the death
  • S & P like to ask tons of questions
  • S & P are suppressed in their original place of “residence”, but still try to do their own thing and help people who need it urgently
  • S & P help others with murdering
  • S & A and P & C have an intense sex life
  • S & P have the ability of healing
  • C & A hold a high position in “their” world
  • ….
And now, after writing about the main protagonists… In Blood and Ash, I loved the side characters, I loved Kieran, I cared about Vikter, Vonetta, Tawny, Elijah, Delano, Naill, Emil. But in A Shadow in the Ember, I don’t know, they didn’t fascinate me. They were just existent, but nothing more.

 

– the writing style (6/10)

There is no space left for questioning Jennifer L. Armentrout’s writing ability. Because she can write, damn, she can. But, in all honesty, you could put the 800 pages in 350. 

There is so much description and world-building, it gets boring from time to time. It’s a little bit too much, you know?

To sum up, the book itself isn’t a bad one. I would have liked it if was just this one book. But with the Blood and Ash – series, it lost its magic. It simply felt like reading it all over again.

What do you think? Let me know:).

Yours,

Everose

Sunday, 23/04/2023

Photos:

A Shadow in the Ember – left: https://scontent-frt3-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t39.30808-6/245910421_425579922260448_6273187442506023174_n.jpg?stp=dst-jpg_p526x296&_nc_cat=110&ccb=1-7&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=w-7cuKw7GFsAX_ulDfY&_nc_ht=scontent-frt3-2.xx&oh=00_AfA6_AfKRsOzFCKbTJgVSQ3zNE2390Bc_2Fs6PaPeNztlA&oe=64486BE5 – last access: 22/04/2023

A Shadow in the Ember – right: photo 2: https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71GEduk61kL.jpg – amazon.com – last access: 22/04/2023

caslte: https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1553434320-e9f5757140b1?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=MnwxMjA3fDB8MHxwaG90by1wYWdlfHx8fGVufDB8fHx8&auto=format&fit=crop&w=627&q=80 – unsplash.com – Josipa Juras (24/03/2019) – last access: 29/01/2023

tree blossoms: https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1586779300978-6648a9c0036f?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=MnwxMjA3fDB8MHxwaG90by1wYWdlfHx8fGVufDB8fHx8&auto=format&fit=crop&w=687&q=80 – unsplash.com – Luise and Nic (13/04/2020) – last access: 23/04/2023

head with long hair: https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1479492582774-e7244111ed17?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=MnwxMjA3fDB8MHxwaG90by1wYWdlfHx8fGVufDB8fHx8&auto=format&fit=crop&w=688&q=80 – unsplash.com – Chad Madden (18/11/2016) – last access: 23/04/2023

typing person: https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1507208773393-40d9fc670acf?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=MnwxMjA3fDB8MHxwaG90by1wYWdlfHx8fGVufDB8fHx8&auto=format&fit=crop&w=687&q=80 – unsplash.com – LinkedIn Sales Solution (05/10/2017) – last access: 23/05/2023