Reviewed by Tori
Ivy has always seen other worlds since she was a child. Given medication to control her “hallucinations” she is convinced her visions aren’t real. That is, until her sister disappears and Ivy discovers not only are these other worlds real, but her sister is trapped in one of them and unless Ivy can find a hidden relic to use to save her, she will die. The one man who can help her find the relic is also the one that an ancient prophecy says will ultimately betray her.
Adrian may have turned his back on his legacy but meeting Ivy leaves him convinced he cannot change fate no matter how hard he tries. Together, he helps her learn about her gifts and locate the relic they so desperately need. But every step they take brings Ivy closer to her destiny and a war that will leave her on one side and Adrian on the other.
The Beautiful Ashes is Jeaniene Frost’s first foray into a New Adult fantasy series. The premise introduces us to multi layered world of demons, angels, and a young lady whose lineage proclaims her to be the ultimate weapon in a coming war. Steady pacing and a slow reveal of the elements and arc brings us the possibility of a well developed storyline that will reveal in this trilogy.
Frost’s voice is present in here though not as vibrant as in her previous adult series. Though touted as a New Adult, the book has a distinct YA sound and feel to it; even with the racy romance. While I enjoyed the story overall, I wasn’t engrossed by it. Fans of Armentrout’s Lux series may see a faint similarity in the strength and snark of the heroine and the seductive alpha qualities of the hero, while fans of Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever series will see a faint similarity in the premise: college student with the sight must find missing sister and powerful relic with the help of a deadly alpha hero. Action, suspense, intrigue, humor, and romance are all elements presented but the blending didn’t result in a smooth story for me.
This is what I call a set up book. It explains the world and its inhabitants, cluing us into back stories and such, essentially setting up for the next two books in the series. She spends a considerable amount of time building the arc; slowly. Introduction to the different worlds and supernatural characters was interesting but there was a lack of dimension in both that felt as if we are only scraping the surface of their depths. Like oil and water, nothing mixed well. Repetitive scenes; such as Ivy and Adrian jumping from world to world trying to locate the relic. They go, look around, get into some trouble, come home, switch disguises, and try again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I also felt there was too much held back from the heroine that could have helped her in her quest. Being mysterious is one thing but after awhile of no answers, I became annoyed and wanted to shout, “Just spit it out already!” For example:
Adrian busts very mirror they come in contact with but won’t tell Ivy why. Not until a demon comes through a mirror she has on her locket. If he had told her his reasons, she would have never opened the locket. And this is just one of many times his silence puts her life in danger.
There was no real reason for this other than another obvious plot device to clue readers into the angst that Adrian is suffering by being around Ivy. She receives this treatment from quite a few characters who are supposedly trying to help her.
Regardless of my qualms, I did enjoy Ivy and Adrian to some extent-more so as individuals then together. I found Ivy strong, courageous, and snarky with just enough fear and self preservation to be realistic. Adrian was a little harder to get to know but I liked how Frost presents him and even though he isn’t altogether forthcoming, he does seem to have Ivy’s best interests at heart. Chemistry wise, I didn’t feel much between them. It all happened so fast, attraction then love. I didn’t see where or why the emotions between them deepened. We are told they are drawn to one another, a sort of soul mate issue, which unfortunately is not a favorite trope of mine. When this trope is used, it often glosses over the normal moments that shows readers the romance being built.
Frost takes some liberties in creating a cast of secondary characters to shock and awe. It’s here the religious mythology is alluded to and I enjoyed the twists she incorporated. Angels and demons fighting the never ending war for supremacy. I liked the explanations behind Adrian’s and Ivy’s parentage and the prophecy surrounding them. Deception and betrayal marks both the perceived good guys and bad guys, once again reminding us that the difference between good and evil is merely separated by minute degrees. We meet various characters who are instrumental in the coming war and of course, no one quite tells the truth. Manipulation and free will are important features that the book addresses through out.
Frost has told readers this will be a trilogy so there is a small cliffhanger at the end even though the initial conflict is resolved. While I wasn’t blown away by this first installment, my attention was piqued enough to consider reading book two-title and release date to be announced. A word of warning to all Frost’s adult PNR fans though…this is NOT Cat & Bones in a younger setting. If you are looking or hoping this will be similar to that series, you will be disappointed.