When a book impresses the heck out of me, I feel the need to share. Let me begin by saying, Sophie H. Morgan is a fellow Samhain author, but hers is not the kind of book I would normally choose to read. She held me down and forced me. Not.
If you’ve followed the Picky Reader blogs at all, then you know I read a lot of suspense and women’s fiction. Not really into paranormal or fantasy (unless I’m the one writing it), shape shifters, demons, vampires or any other other-worldly creatures. But maybe I should be. I rarely read anything remotely dystopian (except for the Hunger Games series, of course, which I was forced to read by my daughter and I’m glad I did.) I find those dark, dystopian worlds depressing. Even with the Hunger Games, I had to gear myself up to read the second book.
While I started out not expecting to like ASHES at all, I was soon drawn in by the strong heroine, Ana. The setting/situation was a bit blurry for me at the beginning, but I caught on quickly enough. Ana is a phoenix and also a princess who is head of a rebellion and protector of those who’ve become displaced and downtrodden by kingdom wars. Her group, known as the Hoods includes demons, a fae, (what’s a fae? I suggest you Google it if you don’t know. That’s what I did.) and a vampire, just to name a few.
All the characters are clearly drawn and have distinctive personalities. I especially enjoyed the vampire, Trick.
A “merc” known as Shade is sent to hunt down Ana. Shade is a jackal shifter and was Ana’s former bodyguard in her days as a royal. There’s a lot of history between them, and of course, they are now members of opposing forces. Can you say conflict? The author does a wonderful job balancing internal and external conflict for both of her protagonists. There is so much distrust and past history for them to wade through. I enjoyed their journey to overcome that and reach a place where they could have a meeting of the minds.
Another thing I liked was that Shade (real name Cade) was wrong about a couple of big issues in the story and HE ADMITTED IT! Then he actually changed his behavior. OMG. Can you say dream guy? Both Ana and Cade experience real character growth and become more mature and equal, something else that doesn’t always happen as much as I’d like it to in many romance novels.
The writing? What can I say? It’s just excellent. Again, if you’ve followed this blog, you know I’m a sucker for truly good writing and nothing ticks me off more than a poorly written/poorly edited book. None of that here. There’s a lot going on in the story, but it’s clearly written. There is a ton of action (starting on page one) and numerous fight scenes, but so well-done they are easy to picture and keep track of what’s going on.
One thing I noticed about the author’s writing in particular is that there is no trite phrasing or metaphors. None. Every metaphor seems original. A few examples: “His mouth was drawn tighter than a charity’s purse.” “Princes,” he reprimanded, “with a voice stiffer than a sheet of titanium.” “…was still waiting, eyebrows higher than her expectations.”
There is also some really beautiful phrasing to evoke imagery such as, “the night stretching talons down the sky as it finally battled back the sun.”
This is Sophie H. Morgan’s first book, but there are two more to follow in this series which I’m sure her readers are anxiously awaiting. I know I am.
Buy ASHES here: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5402/ashes
Learn more about Sophie here:
The second book in the series is WHISPERS due out March 2016.