A Shadow in the Ember

- Jennifer L. Armentrout


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.



“You will not disappoint us today, Sera.”


enjoyable/easy to read:
I’m not going to lie to you (or myself) and try to convince anyone that A Shadow in the Ember isn’t the same story as From Blood and Ash. Rename the characters, go back in time, and change the setting, but it’s the same story. It’s not even a gender swap of personalities, which could have been interesting. Nyktos is Casteel and Sera is Poppy.
From the ‘twist‘ surprise identity to the secret plans, all the way down to the stabbing and strange obsession with violence.
Having said that, I did read almost all 600+ pages in one sitting, finding it impossible to give in to sleep until I had completed the book. Work was not fun the next day with less than three hours of sleep.

While I ended up enjoying From Blood and Ash, it took me a long time to get into the story and figure out the mythopoeia being built. I don’t know if it was just having more awareness of this world, but A Shadow in the Ember felt much more accessible. I don’t think that’s it – it’s been months since I read From Blood and Ash and I’ve forgotten a lot of the details – I think Armentrout does a better job in A Shadow in the Ember orienting you into this world. Within a few pages, I had a clear understanding of who Sera was and what was expected of her.

I do think there’s a lot of fat that could’ve been trimmed. We seem to go back and forth over a lot of the same points. Sometimes it’s just to rehash a known position, but too often, it’s because a character is being inconsistent or wishy-washy, unable to make up their minds or stick to their principles. There’s also a lot of wasted time. I don’t mind sitting in one place longer if it leads to character development or allows relationships to feel more natural. I’m certainly not hoping for instalove, but it’s hard to further a romantic plot if the romantic leads don’t spend any time together. A Shadow in the Ember should have been a 400-page book at most.

As I said, I’m not unaware of the problems here, and I know From Blood and Ash already wasn’t a very unique story, making A Shadow in the Ember even more predictable. However, it’s honestly impressive that Armentrout was able to pass off the same story with almost the same cover art, even. I guess I’m just another reader proving that people will read anything if you call it fantasy and make it just a little smutty.




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