Spooktober: Books Based On Your Favourite Halloween/Horror Creatures

When it comes to Halloween everyone has their favourite supernatural creatures, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy them within the context of horror books. For that reason, I thought it might be fun to bring together books based on some of the more popular monsters & creatures. For variety purposes, I’ve tried to include a mix of different books – YA/Adult, genres, tones, etc.

As usual, let me preface this by saying that I have NOT read all of the books mentioned here but I’ve done my best to research and ensure I’ve correctly allocated them.


Ghost & Ghouls

I love me some ghost-y shenanigans. After all, what’s more Halloween than a haunted house? Good ghost stories always seem to expertly walk the line between spooky and emotional and I think that’s why we enjoy them so much.

  • THE SUN DOWN MOTEL – SIMONE ST. JAMES: In dual timelines (1982 & the present), two women work the night shift at a haunted motel whilst investigating the disappearances & murders of other young women in the small, run-down town.
  • THE DIVINERS – LIBBA BRAY: In 1920s New York, a group of young people with psychic abilities and the owner of an occult museum help investigate a serious of ritualistic murders that may be being committed by a violent spirit.
  • NINTH HOUSE – LEIGH BARDUGO: Alex Stern, gifted with the ability to see ghosts, joins the mysterious ‘Ninth House’ at Yale, tasked with keeping the secret societies’ occult exploits in check. She finds herself investigating a murder on campus with potential links to them.
  • THE SHINING – STEPHEN KING: After taking a job as the off-season caretaker for the Overlook Hotel, writer Jack Torrence moves his family to Colarado. However, his uniquely gifted 5 year old son begins to notice something sinister about the Overlook.
  • KILL CREEK – SCOTT THOMAS: Four master horror authors agree to spend a night in The Finch House, one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses. What starts out as a publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for their lives as the horror follows them home.
  • THE DEAD AND THE DARK – COURTNEY GOULD: After teens go missing, Logan moves with her ghost-hunter dads to Snakebite, Oregon. She teams up with Ashley Barton (who is being haunted by the ghost of her boyfriend, Logan, the first boy to disappear) to investigate.

Demons & The Devil

What’s Halloween without the occasional loose demon causing havoc or a visit from the devil in the form of a body breaking possession? Well, if hellish vibes are what float your boat, here are a few reads with demonic flair.

  • THE DEVIL MAKES THREE – TORI BOVALINO: While working at her school library for the summer, Tess makes a bargain with the headmaster’s intolerable son, Eliot, which results in them discovering an ancient grimoire and accidentally unleashing a book-bound demon.
  • THE EXORCIST – WILLIAM PETER BLATTAY: Two priests and a desperate mother fight to free the soul of 12-year old Regan from an evil supernatural entity. I’m sure you know the movie.
  • GOOD OMENS – NEIL GAIMAN & TERRY PRATCHETT: A fussy angel, Aziraphale, and a fast-living demon, Crowley, team up to avert the apocalypse based on the prophecy of a 17th century witch. Only problem is, somebody has misplaced the Antichrist.
  • HORNS – JOE HILL: Following the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Ig finds himself the town outcast, convicted in the court of public opinion. However, after a night of drinking, he wakes up with a set of horns growing from his skull and some special abilities to go with them.
  • MY BEST-FRIEND’S EXORCISM – GRADY HENDRIX: Abby & Gretchen have been BFFs since 5th grade. After Gretchen disappears during a night of fun, she comes back…not right. The conclusion: She’s possessed by a demon. And so, Abby embarks on a quest to save her.
  • KINGDOM OF THE WICKED – KERRI MANISCALCO: After her sister is murdered, Sicilian witch Emilia uses dark magic to summon a demon prince, Wrath, for answers. The two make a deal and set out to find who or what is killing women on the island and why.

Vampires

Nothing beats a classic blood sucker book. Maybe you like them brutal, bloody and terrifying? Or perhaps brooding and in the midst of a moral crisis? Or MAYBE you just want to get your lust on? Well, either way, there’s a book for you.

  • DRACULA – BRAM STOKER – The classic vampire novel. Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to do business with the noble Count Dracula only to discover a horrifying secret. To thwart Dracula’s evil designs, Jonathan and friends, led by Professor Van Helsing, must embark on an nightmarish adventure. 
  • LET THE RIGHT ONE IN – JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST: In 1981 Blackberge, Sweden, bodies begin to show up drained of blood. Meanwhile, bullied,12-year-old Oskar makes a new friend in Eli – a girl who only comes out at night, smells odd and has never seen a Rubik’s cube.
  • THE PASSAGE – JUSTIN CRONIN: A series of military experiments on a group of prison inmates go horribly wrong, resulting in a vampire apocalypse which wipes out all but a few pockets of humans in North America. Their only hope might just be a little girl from Iowa.
  • INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE -ANNE RICE: Vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac tells his 200 year life story to a reporter. He details his turning by the sinister Lestat, his bond with a child vampire named Claudia, and their travels across Europe to meet more of their kind.
  • THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES – GRADY HENDRIX: A book club of Charleston mothers investigate a mysterious newcomer to town after several local children go missing, only to discover that vampires are terrifyingly real.
  • DEAD UNTIL DARK – CHARLAINE HARRIS: Cocktail waitress and telepath Sookie Stackhouse’s life changes suddenly when a handsome vampire comes to town and her neighbours start turning up dead. There are heaps of vampire romances out there so I thought I’d include one I’ve read & liked.
  • VAMPIRE ACADEMY – RICHELLE MEAD: Couldn’t resist including my fave YA vampire series. When psychically bonded best friends Rose & Lissa return to Saint Vladimir’s, a school for good vampires (Moroi) and their future half-vampire bodyguards (Dhampirs), it soon becomes clear they’re in danger from more than just the evil vampires (Strigoi) outside the school walls.

Witches

All about that old black magic? Well, here are some magical reads. There were a heap of witch-y books out there that I could have used for this post but I decided seven would be plenty.

  • THE RULES OF MAGIC – ALICE HOFFMAN: The Owens family is bound by a centuries old curse that kills anyone they fall in love with. The book follows siblings Franny, Jet & Vincent growing up in 50s/60s New York and discovering their magical heritage and abilities.
  • PAYBACK’S A WITCH – LANA HARPER: In a small town during a spell-casting competition, three witches come together to enact vengeance on the warlock who broke all of their hearts, only for two of them to end up falling for each other.
  • SERPENT & DOVE – SHELBY MAHURIN: Lou, a thief & witch in hiding from her coven, ends up wed to a witch hunter, Reid, in a world in which humans and witches have long been at war. Despite the secrets between the two of them, they fall in love.
  • THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING – ALEXIS HENDERSON: In a strictly religious community, outsider Immanuelle begins to question the teachings of the Prophet when the spirits of dead witches gift her a journal previously belonging to her dead mother. Accidentally triggering a revenge curse, she must then choose whether or not to save the townspeople.
  • THE WITCH’S HEART – GENEVIEVE GORNICHEC: Re-imagining Norse Mythology, this book tells the story of the witch Angrboda, exiled by Odin for refusing to reveal the future and mother to three of Loki’s children. Angroboda must decide whether to accept fate or fight it.
  • THE NATURE OF WITCHES – RACHEL GRIFFIN: Clara, an Everwitch, is special in that her magic is connected to every season. When other witches start to lose control of their magic, sending the world toward an ecological disaster, Clara soon becomes the only hope of saving it.
  • BLOOD LIKE MAGIC – ESTELLE SAMBURY: To come into her powers, Voya must complete The Trial or risk her entire family losing their magic. The task: kill her first love. Voya signs up for a genetic matchmaking program only to be paired with the infuriating Luke. Soon it becomes a question of her heritage or her morality?

Werewolves & Shapeshifters

This was definitely the toughest category to find books for, mostly on the werewolf side because there don’t seem to be many well reviewed werewolf reads outside the romance genre. While I certainly included some romance picks, keeping my selections broad was challenging here.

  • SHIVER – MAGGIE STIEFVATER: After surviving a wolf attack as a child, Grace has long watched the wolves behind her house, fixated on one with yellow eyes. Sam lives two lives – human in the warmer months, wolf over winter. When the two finally, properly meet, Grace recognises Sam instantly and their relationship evolves. Can a cure be found or will they be torn apart by the dropping temperature?
  • THE WOLF’S HOUR – ROBERT R. McCAMMON: This book is basically like if James Bond had been working during WWII and happened to be a werewolf. Told in dual timelines, it follows MC, Michael’s, efforts to foil a Nazi plan called Iron Fist and his early years in Russia during which he was turned.
  • BITTEN – KELLY ARMSTRONG: Elena Michaels, the world’s only female werewolf, is trying to live life as a regular human when her former pack leader calls asking for help with a rogue wolf killing humans. This brings her back in contact with her ex/the man who turned her, Clay.
  • WICKED FOX – KAT CHO: In Seoul, Miyoung, a half-gumiho (nine-tail fox who feeds on the energy of men) accidentally loses her fox spirit after she saves a boy named Jihoon from a goblin attack. In the aftermath, the two form a bond, but when a shaman gives Miyoung the chance to reunite with her spirit, she must choose between immortality or Jihoon’s life.
  • IT – STEPHEN KING: Seven teens come together to face off against a supernatural entity killing children that disguises itself as a clown. 27 years later they are called back to town to fulfill their vow to fight IT again should it ever return.
  • THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS – STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES: Ten years after a hunting transgression, four American Indian men must fight for their lives as they are hunted by a vengeful shapeshifting creature known as the Elk-Head Woman.

Zombies & The Undead

Is death really the end? Not in these books, at least. If you’re someone who enjoys thinking about how they’d fair in a zombie apocalypse or likes tales of resurrection, this is the category for you.

  • UNDEAD GIRL GANG – LILY ANDERSON: When Mila’s best friend Riley and two others die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe it was a suicide pact. And so, armed with a grimoire, she brings them back to life. Now with only 7 days until the spell ends, she’ll need to wrangle the undead teens long enough to discover the identity of their murderer.
  • WARM BODIES – ISAAC MARION: R is a zombie with no life or memory of who he was before he was undead. Then he meets Julie – a living girl who brings colour to his grey existence and who, after consuming the brains of her boyfriend, R can’t help but want to protect.
  • GIDEON THE NINTH – TAMSYN MUIR: In a galactic empire of 9 planets, each home to a House practicing a type of necromancy, the house heirs and their bodyguards are invited by the Emperor to undergo a difficult and deadly trial to become Lyctors – his immortal disciples and living saints. This should probably be in the witch category but necromancy, so…
  • WORLD WAR Z – MAX BROOKS: Max Brooks provides an “oral history” of survivors’ experiences during the zombie apocalypse. Told in a series of vignettes, the book travels the world, detailing people’s accounts from the first discovery of African Rabies through to The Great Panic and beyond.
  • THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS – M. R. CAREY: Set in a world in which a fungus turns human beings into mindless people eaters, Melanie and the children she goes to school with are special – while they are affected by the disease and eat human flesh, they retain their thoughts and emotions. Are they potentially a cure for humanity?
  • BRUJA BORN – ZORAIDA CORDOVA – After her boyfriend dies in a bus crash, Lula uses dark magic to bring him back. However, in doing so she turns all the bodies from the accident into casi muertos (creatures between living & dead). Now the only thing standing between them and freedom is Lula’s death.

Miscellaneous Monsters & Creatures

  • MONSTRUMOLOGIST – RICK YANCEY: In Victorian New England, orphan Will Henry is the assistant to Dr Warthrop, a man specialising in the study of monsters. The two are tasked with tracking down and removing a terrifying creature feeding on humans.
  • THIS SAVAGE SONG – V. E. SCHWAB: In the city of Verity, humanity’s darkest deeds result in the creation of monsters. Split into 2 independently controlled districts based on their approach to handling the monsters, there are fears the city will soon collapse into conflict.
  • A DEADLY EDUCATION – NAOMI NOVIK: At a school for mages with a low survival rate due to the constant influx of monster attacks, El Higgins does her best to survive the school year whilst keeping a handle on her talent for destructive (& potentially world ending) magic.
  • FRANKENSTEIN – MARY SHELLEY: Do I need to summarise this one? Consumed by ambition, Dr Victor Frankenstein builds a hideous creature out of human corpses and brings it to life. But which of the two is the true monster?

If I missed your favourite creature, I’m sorry! Really though, there were more I wish I could have included but this post was starting to verge on War & Peace levels already and we couldn’t have that.

What’s your favourite halloween-ish creature and what’s a book you enjoy that features it?

Making Vampires the Stuff of Nightmares Again: Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

Until this month, I’d been waiting to read EotV for forever. Okay…in truth, it was more like a few months short of 3 years, but this led to some pretty high expectations – something I generally try to avoid for fear of heartbreak. Yet, to my complete surprise, this book managed to meet them, mostly.

Who, What, Where?

EotV is set in the world of Elidaen – an empire conquered by vampires after its sun disappeared one day twenty-seven years ago. In a prison cell, awaiting his death for murdering the vampire emperor, Silversaint Gabriel de Leon, the last of a holy order dedicated to defending humans against monsters of the night, is compelled to tell his life’s story to a vampire historian. Gabriel details his youth at the monastery of San Michon, rise to fame as a Chevalier of the realm against invading vampire forces, forbidden love, and journey with a small band of allies to find the Holy Grail, prophesised to bring an end to the eternal night.

It’s a Vampire’s World

First off, the world building in this book is fantastic! It’s complex, intriguing, intricate, and somehow JK breaks it down for the reader in ways that are easy to understand without bogging down the story. I was engaged in the world right from the very beginning and really enjoyed learning about its vampire lore and bloodlines, the Silver Order, Elidaen’s religion, and how the loss of the sun and vampire invasion affected people’s lives (a diet involving lots of potatoes, apparently). There were a couple of things raised and not fully explained but there’s got to be material left for the sequels, right? The one thing that bothered me a little was the use of random French words like ‘oui’ or ‘ma famillie’. It’s weird because the spoken language isn’t really discussed so it looks like they’re there purely to try and French-ify things.

Nevernight Vibes

I think it’s safe to say that if you loved JK’s Nevernight books it’s likely you’ll enjoy EotV. While there aren’t any footnotes (thank God), it’s similarly full of violence, revenge, corruption, foul language, moody-vibes, smut, religious themes, and emotional moments. It’s DARRRKKK. Vampires bathing in the blood of babies dark. The kind of dark and scary vampires should be. However, part of my reasoning for dropping that .5 of a star is that some of these things were slightly overdone in places. In the case of gore and violence, over time I felt myself becoming desensitised to the horror described, having read so much of it. Dead children littering the ground? Well, alrighty then! Likewise with the swearing and crassness, in that some lines came off feeling forced and excessive – we get it, they’re badasses with dirty mouths. And for the love of all that’s holy, please, no more ‘your mother/wife’ jokes. The audience is not a bunch of twelve-year-old boys.

Full Steam Ahead

There was no point while reading this book where I felt bored, and for a 700+ page novel, that’s pretty darn impressive. The plot of EotV is like if The Name of the Wind, The Witcher and The Last of Us had a threesome in a vampire nest with a twist from The Da Vinci Code thrown in. I have no idea if that sounds appealing, but it was. Gabriel’s tale switches back and forth between two different parts of his life. The first details his teenage years, during which he studied with the Silver Order and built his legend as The Black Lion. The second looks at more recent events – Gabe’s journey with a small group protecting a teenage street urchin named Dior in connection with the Holy Grail. At first, I was bothered by this structure but after seeing that it didn’t negatively impact the momentum, I realised it was a clever narrative choice. This is because it: a) stopped the book from being stuck in one place for too long, and b) allowed JK to slowly unfold certain plot elements to dramatic (and heartbreaking) effect. My only minor complaint is there were a couple of character-oriented moments in the first timeline which were summarised rather than shown to allow the book to move on to other events that I wish we’d actually seen.

A Grumpy “Hero”, Talking Sword and Scrappy Pickpocket

Talking about EotV’s characters without spoilers is a minefield, but I can safely say I liked a lot of them. Our lead, Gabriel, has been through a great deal and is akin to a more broken, bitter and arrogant Geralt of Rivia. He’s lost his faith and self-respect, and generally adopts a ‘F*** off’ attitude. While Gabe frustrated me early on, I came to understand and appreciate his interesting mix of heroic and asshole-ish qualities. His relationship with Dior was one of my favourite parts of the book and I loved seeing them come to trust and care for one another despite negative original perceptions. The surrounding cast of characters were also good but time with them was limited in some cases. A few standouts for me were Aaron, Gabe’s Silversaint nemesis turned friend; Ashdrinker, Gabe’s crazy, talking sword; Bellamy, basically Dandelion from The Witcher but more battle adept; and of course, Dior, our locking picking, smart-mouthed dynamo.  

Magical Illustrations

It would be a crime not to mention the stunning illustrations by Bon Orthwick in this book. As someone who doesn’t see books play out like movies in their head, these artworks truly enhanced my reading experience and helped me to feel and visualise scenes. HOWEVER, that one piece – you’ll know when the time comes – how DARE you squash my heart like that?


As I’m sure you already know, I had a blast reading this crazy, bloody, vampire ride of a paperweight and I’ll be looking forward to the next book in the series, whenever it finally makes an appearance.

4.5 Stars

Note: Thank you to Harper Collins AU and Netgalley for a large sampler of this book which allowed me to get started early!

Threaten, Flirt and Repeat: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

To those who said this book was better than the first, you lied. I feel betrayed. Prepare yourselves for an unpopular opinion. A VERY unpopular opinion,

Plot, Wherefore Art Thou?

I have no idea how to talk about the plot of AKoFaF. If I had to sit down and write a summary, I wouldn’t know where to start because, aside from an early kidnapping attempt and a mild skirmish while travelling, almost NOTHING happens for most of the book. While From Blood and Ash had a few action-filled and dramatic events to keep things engaging, this book mostly feels like a million pages of Poppy talking (and “not talking”) to Casteel and side characters. When that’s not happening, it’s pages of inner monologuing about the same tedious things until you want to stab someone. Things start to pick up around 75%, or maybe a bit more, but by the time I was finally interested in what was happening, the book was over.

Keep the Tropes Rolling

I mentioned in my review of FBaA that it was a trope-filled bonanza. Well, it keeps on going in AKoFaF. Clearly JLA couldn’t handle missing a couple in book one. As a result, we get the soulmates, here comes the cavalry, and fake dating tropes. Now, I normally love fake dating but its use here was not only annoying but unnecessary. As we all know, the point of this trope is that by two characters pretending to love one another they actually do fall for each other. My issue is that Casteel and Poppy already love each other. That’s what the first book was for! So this whole ‘fake it til you make it’ layer to their relationship only serves to add frustrating, silly drama and makes Poppy spend ages questioning everything Cas does or says.

More Romance, Less Fantasy

While FBaA felt mostly balanced between romance and fantasy, AKoBaB is more the former. If you were disappointed by the number of steamy scenes in book one, there are certainly more here. A couple feel same-same in the middle, but overall they range from very decent to hot. The whole vampire aspect of the romance is played up more this time, too, which I was super happy about (just give the people want they want, alright?). Yet, I did find that the other interactions between Poppy and Cas got tedious as the book went on, mostly because their exchanges are so damn repetitive, even more so than in book one. Half the time it feels like JLA has hit copy & paste and changed one or two words of dialogue in the hopes we won’t notice.

Cliffhanger Ending

By about 65% of the way through this book, I just wanted it to be over. I was also almost positive that I wouldn’t bother to read book 3. And then…the last couple of chapters came. *sigh*. Damn you, JLA. Why couldn’t the rest of the book be as interesting as the last 20%? WHY? The reveal at the end is predictable as all hell and still, I was like YES, PLOT DRAMA. GIVE IT TO ME. Unfortunately, now my brain keeps thinking it wants to read the next book. Good, God.

Pluck Poppy

Poppy tested my patience in this book. She really did. Her personality can now be narrowed down to just two things – is violent and asks a lot of questions. I also find it ridiculously frustrating that, despite her empathic abilities, she’s a blockhead when it comes to understanding other people’s motivations and feelings. The cherry on top: her repetitive, constant and lengthy internal ramblings which made me want to scream by the end. Just figure your shit out already, girl.

Something I actually liked was that one of the plot points in this book deals with Poppy’s powers beginning to evolve. The reasoning is vague but we’ll allow it. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll be able to guess where that leads us by the end. This plotline really doubles down on the super special protagonist trope but because it feels like the natural progression for Poppy’s story to take (especially since people treat her like a super special snowflake anyway) I’m cool with it.

Other Random Thoughts:

  • Kieran is easily my favourite character. What a bro. His relationship with Poppy is cute, too.
  • I can’t help finding it really weird that Poppy feels people’s emotions as flavours. Like, why?
  • Why is it that people like Poppy or will like Poppy just because she’s stabbed Casteel? Um, how much do you people hate Cas? Poor guy.
  • “Heartmates”. Ugh. Had I been drinking something, I would have spat it all over my kindle.
  • Poppy and Cas getting it on in the back of a carriage right in the middle of a battle was a bit of a WTF moment. Like guys, to quote Kourtney Kardashian: “Kim, there’s people that are dying.”

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire is longer than it should be, mostly filler, and loses some of the funner elements I liked about the first book. After everything I’ve just said, I wish I could say I won’t be continuing with the series but that would probably be a lie because, clearly, I hate myself.

1.5 stars

Vampire Romance Makes a Comeback: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I may not be twelve anymore (thank god), but for some reason my ears still prick up at the mention of ‘vampire romance’. I can’t help it. It’s like my brain’s been programmed against my will. So, you’ll understand why this + ‘most hyped romance of 2020’ lead to me giving into FOMO and reading From Blood and Ash.

Who, What, Where?

Our protagonist is Poppy, ‘The Maiden’ and chosen of the Gods. Poppy lives her life with strict restrictions on how she dresses and behaves as she waits for the day of her Ascension – a mysterious ritual that will supposedly secure the future of the Kingdom. However, Poppy longs to experience life outside her limited bubble and is drawn to activities and interests that risk her being found unworthy. After a kidnapping attempt, she’s assigned a new guard, the attractive and alluring Hawke who’s like no one she’s ever met before and makes her rethink her destiny. But when things inside the castle turn deadly and a fallen kingdom rises, determined to retake what was lost at any cost, Poppy begins to question whether everything in her world is what it seems.

You get a Trope! And YOU Get a Trope!

If you’re looking for something original, keep walking. However, if you’re a reader who eats tropes for breakfast, step this way. I knew going into this it’d be trope heavy, just not this heavy. Honestly, I wish I’d had a bingo card. Let’s start a list, shall we? Hidden/growing powers, dead parents, “The Dark One”, the servant confidant, ‘Not Like Other Girls’, the chosen one, a secret identity, forbidden romance, the virginal MC and experienced love interest…there’s more, but I’ll stop here.

Don’t Need a Crystal Ball to Predict This One

Tying in with what I said about the book’s reliance on tropes, From Blood and Ash is very predictable. Even going into this 100% blind, I guarantee you’ll work out all the major plot reveals from a mile away. Unfortunately, you then have to sit through the rest of the book questioning why characters (*cough* Poppy *cough*) are so freakin’ stupid that they can’t work it out themselves.

The Maiden & The Guard

In terms of our leads, Poppy is, for lack of a better word, okay. I love the fact that she knows how to kick ass and I do sympathise with her difficulties, but she also feels annoyingly young at times and extremely dense when it comes to seeing things right in front of her face. Hawke feels like many of the fantasy love interests I’ve seen before (especially if you’re a SJM fan). He’s generally likeable, has some depth, but he’s nothing new.

For the most part, I enjoy Poppy and Hawke’s relationship. It’s banter-y, fun, sexy and I love the scenes where they physically face off. Yet, there are a couple of things that bother me. First, Hawke does verge into toxic ‘alpha male’ territory at times and second, there are a few moments where their interactions verge on forced. For example, Poppy says something, and Hawke just has to give an arrogant/teasing/sexy reply even though it doesn’t really suit. They also weirdly have a couple of the same exchanges repeatedly (‘You’re so violent, it turns me on’, ‘There’s something seriously wrong with you’, ‘You love it’). I know they’re supposed to be in jokes but it’s a lot.

Steam Up Those Windows

No complaints here. If you’re in this book for some solid smuttiness just know that you’ll have to wait a long time to get there but it’s worth it. Also, bonus points for actually mentioning contraception. Woo!

Questionable World Building

Ah, world building. I wish I could say this book doesn’t fall into the trap of dumping boring bits of information on you in heaps right from the beginning, but I can’t, and it does. There’s even a chapter in which Poppy reads passages from a history textbook *face palm*. Even with these infodumps, I was mighty confused for a while. It’s probably all the terms – Rise, Rite, Ascension, Atlantians, Descenters, Ascended, Wolven…lord, help me.

This aside, there are elements that I liked. I just wish they’d been handled better than coming together at the end. I enjoyed the idea of the three different types of “vampires” and the distinctions between them – bloodthirsty traditional vampires, not-so traditional vampires, and the vicious, zombie-like Craven. I also enjoyed the reveal of the history between the Atlantians & the Ascended, although it does paint a very basic good vs evil scenario.

Pacing

The pacing in this book is messy at points. While the opening scenes which take place at a gambling den/brothel are engaging, following this, things get slow and take some time to pick up again. After this point though, I found the story pretty addictive and raced through to the end. The latter chapters, however, is where things get out of sorts again, slowing down and speeding up in a weird mish-mash of events that left me feeling serious whiplash and confusion.

Writing Issues

There were a couple of things that bugged me about the writing as I was reading:

  • Ellipses. I’m probably a hypocrite saying this, but boy were they overused in this book.
  • JLA has a weird habit of repeating the exact same information about something in dialogue and Poppy’s thoughts, almost word for word, very close together. It’s bizarre and unnecessary.
  • For a high fantasy book, the language used by the characters is extremely modern. It does make the book more digestible, but the idea of characters using words like ‘totally’ and ‘whatever’ in this context is disorienting.
  • Two words, ‘female’ and ‘male’. Just no. JLA you’re banned from reading Ms Maas.

Now, the two big questions, do I think this book deserves the hype and best romance of 2020? No x 2. Still, despite my massive amounts of complaining, I didn’t mind From Blood and Ash. It’s not amazing or revolutionary but it’s addictive, fun and a good way to shut your brain off. With this in mind, I’ll be reading the sequel.

2.5 Stars