Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.
Disclosure: I didn’t finish book 3 because I just gave up. Also, this is a pretty negative review. I liked book 1 for the most part, but the series went downhill from there, and I’m truly sorry to Jennifer since I loved her Wicked and Titan series a lot. Also, I purposely put books 2 and 3 from the Blood and Ash series together because I had the same feeling during both books.
What I liked…
I liked Poppy’s gradual transition from innocent, naive, and sheltered Maiden to someone who sees and accepts the realities of the conflicts around her.
I also liked her realistic sense of inner conflict over everything she thought she knew compared to everything she’s learning. That’s not easy to flip beliefs like that, so her processing and continuous questioning of the truth felt pretty satisfying.
Poppy’s growth of magic. I had issues with explanations of this (see below for what I didn’t like) but I loved how her powers grew and evolved in stages.
What I didn’t like…
So many bad sex scenes.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. I love a good love scene, but i don’t like over descriptions or dragging scenes. Also, I thought this series was YA with the MC being 18. That doesn’t mean to say the book can’t have sex scenes. Teenagers have sex whether others approve or not. But the frequency and narration and over description of the sex scenes did not fit my idea of a YA love scene. And I’ve ead some really good sex scene from YA authors that are obvious as to what’s going on without going into detail on… plunging. Like… sounds painful.
The inappropriate timing of sex scenes was insane. Like in book 2, just after Poppy kills a significant character, she and Cas get hot and steamy in the carriage that brought said victim to their location. And in book 3, just before she meets with someone important for the first time in ages, the conversation during that love scene was seriously off base. Also, the scenes just dragged with long conversations before and after. Ugh, not sexy or romantic IMO.
Overdone character traits…
Poppy has questions… Obviously, because she’s been sheltered all her life and knows nothing about the big wide world and the people thought to be extinct.
Cas always accuses her of being violent after some very acceptable violence in very limited and warranted situations against people who genuinely hurt her in very deep ways.
As for the big wide world… why are we just learning about everything that should have been hinted at sooner through Poppy’s curiosity or Casteels’ loooooong explantations about stuff. This is mainly a book 3 issue, but I feel so much was left out that it’s all just being dropped on the reader as it happens. This just feels more convenient for the author rather than building up to major things with mentions here and there that make sense when they need to.
Poppy’s powers… I know I said I liked them, and I did, but her sudden ability to control said powers was unrealistic. I can understand a one-off because of emotional desperation, but this seems to just happen without a struggle.
Willamina Collins’ diary. This is a saucy journal that Poppy found in book 1, but Cas (when he went by Hawke) discovered her stealing the book from the library and just won’t let it go even though he’s the one who brought it on the trip and keeps going on about it. It also seems to be a source of sex education via Cas, I mean, Poppy’s worked out a lot from the book, so why Cas needs to give more explanation is beyond me.
After everything Poppy’s done with Casteel, I find it ridiculous that she still gets squeamish over his mention of the book or anything sexual. I totally get some uncontrollable blushing because some people genuinely can’t help that, but the outright protesting and constant defensiveness was way overdone on multiple occasions when she’s actually up for it when the the moment happens. That needed levelling out a lot.
Overall, I was disappointed with both books, and don’t plan to finish book 3 any time soon or read book 4. Jennifer should stick to the more modern/urban fantasy like Wicked, which I finally read. I’ll definitely have a more positive review of this book along with the movie of book 1 on Passionflix.