A Shadow in the Ember Book Cover A Shadow in the Ember
Flesh and Fire
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Fantasy Romance
Blue Box Press
October 19, 2021
eBook, Paperback, Hardcover, Audiobook

#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns with book one of the all-new, compelling Flesh and Fire series—set in the beloved Blood and Ash world.

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.

“Meyaah Liessa”

As we head further into 2024 there are so many amazing fantasy releases on the horizon, but my heart will forever be with the characters in the “From Blood and Ash” world, and my reread of the first in the prequel series “A Shadow in the Ember” by Jennifer L. Armentrout was exactly what I needed to start out the year.

In a deal made long before her birth Seraphena’s fate had been sealed, she would become the consort to the Primal of Death. She is trained in all ways to become the perfect maiden to secure his love and devotion. But not all is at it seems, because the world around her is falling to waste and Sera learns from those closest to her that the only way to bring life back to the lands is for her soon-to-be husband to die. So while she may be learning to be the perfect bride, she is also secretly working to become the lethal beauty that will end the Primal of Death’s deal that is causing her kingdom to rot.

“I wasn’t sure how one could seduce another into falling in love with them after stabbing them in the chest.”

The well-laid plan comes to a screeching halt with the Primal decides that he has no need of a consort, leaving Sera to not only feel the rejection from the one long promised to her, but also the guilt of not being able to save those around her from a painful and inevitable end.

With her life’s mission failed, she goes from the singular focus of her family’s success to a ghost that few even know exist. She uses her training to try to help her kingdom in any way she can, but as the days pass it is becoming clearer that the rot will take everything from her people, and the shame of her failure follows her. With the chance meeting of an unknown God, she quickly learns that there are things happening in her kingdom that will change everything she thought she knew, and who was worthy of her trust.

“One of the bravest things to do is to accept the aid of others.”

Jennifer L. Armentrout’s ability to create badass leading ladies despite their vulnerabilities and insecurities is one of my favorite aspects to her books. They can be trained as skilled fighters and defend those around them without thought, but they are still painfully human and can feel the sting of rejection as deep as a knife to the chest. Sera, much like Poppy in FBAA, is shown a world she has been shielded from, and tries desperately to right the injustices the powerful beings around her have laid on the land.

We can’t possibly talk about “A Shadow in the Ember” without talking about Daddy Nyktos. And while yes, the cheeky nickname is well earned as he is absolutely scrumptious, he is a powerful force that has earned undying respect from his people, including the baby dragons that often run to him for comfort. He has the world stacked against him and is left responsible for decisions that would break a mortal man. As he meets and grows closer with Sera, he struggles with wanting to protect her and giving her the freedom she has been denied her entire life. He can’t afford a weakness, but Sera is slowly working her way towards becoming the one thing that could break him.

“I know one thing, liessa. A Monster wouldn’t care if they were one.”

I personally got into the From Blood and Ash series right before the third book was released and I know I am not alone when I say the world building and history is confusing. But my love of the characters far surpassed needing to understand the hierarchy of the gods and their magic system. The Flesh and Fire series is the prequel that gives us the much needed background that ties all of those missing pieces together. I am torn on which to recommend to read first, but the safe bet is to start with “A Shadow in the Ember” which will allow new readers to have a better grasp on the world before we meet Poppy, Hawke and Casteel.

This world will forever be one that I turn to when I need a comfort read. There are so many characters that are worthy of their own stories and each glimpse is a gift. I know that I will be impatiently waiting to see this world grow and see what twists Jennifer L. Armentrout has waiting for us.