Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

Publisher: Berkley

Release Date: Out now

Where did you get the ARC: Recieved by the publisher

Reviewed by Has

A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil–until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones–because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own… 

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

After a long break, Meljean Brook is back with a bang with a brand new series and a new alter ego as Milla Vane. Although she has already written a novella set in this world a few years back, this is the first full length book that kick starts an epic fantasy romance series which is brimming with a gritty dark edged tone that is a bit of a departure from her other books. 

Maddek who is the son of two warlords and is in the midst of a battle campaign to defend the alliance. But his world is shaken when he finds out his parents have been brutally murdered after a mission to find him a bride to strengthen their tribe and lands. But if Maddek  avenged their deaths by killing the ambitious and ruthless king who is behind their murder it would fracture and damage their weak coalition and would damage them to future threats. However, an unexpected offer comes from the very daughter of Zhalen, the king who was behind the killings of his parents. Yvenne who is also descended from a line of powerful Seer queens and is the rightful heir to her father’s kingdom offers a proposal that would not only unite and keep the alliance but also to gain revenge against her father who she also loathes. Maddek has his doubts and is distrustful of Yvenne’s intentions which forms a base of their conflict but he agrees to a marriage of convenience and alliance.

I really liked Yvenne’s character, despite the real hardship and torture that she experienced from her brothers and father, she was determined not to falter from her mission to regain her mother’s throne and to gain vengence. She was steadfast, smart and used her wits and the knowledge that her mother gave her to outsmart her opponents.. And even though the abuse she suffered from her father which made her disabled with a damaged leg and the partial amputation of her hand as punishment from rebelling against him, Yvenne never gave up and adapted to her disabilities and was even able to regain her abilities that she thought she lost. She was a great character because she never rushed into things, although she made mistakes, she learned from them and her flaws made her multifaceted as a character. I loved that she used logic and intelligence to manipulate and lay out different solutions and took Maddek by surprise who kept underestimating her. 

Maddek on the other hand, I had trouble warming up to most of the book. He was bullheaded and hot headed although I liked that Yvenne kept him on his toes and unbalanced. Their romance is a slow courtship of wits, lust and wary opponents to mutual respect. I liked that Milla Vane sets up a really interesting power dynamic with the two characters, but I think Yvenne was a saint to put up with Maddek who was stubborn with his suspicions and grudges although she had proved her worth and trust multiple times over the course of the book.

I also had a few issues with the pacing and I thought that it lagged a bit in the middle, but I liked that the focus was on the characters and the romance between Yvenne and Maddek. The core story of this book is about them and their relationship but I did wish there was more time spent on the world-building, which is already rich and vibrant, with a vivid pantheon of gods and goddesses and their mythology. And may I add there are freaking dinosaurs and zombies in this world! I wanted more about these creatures and the lands and, it was like a broad paint brush at times and I felt I was missing pieces from the world. 

A HEART OF BLOOD AND ASHES, is an unapologetic with brutal violence and gore and I would warn readers of content warnings for violence, assault and mentions of rape which didn’t affect the main characters as well as a [spoiler] forced suspected abortion[/spoiler] . The world-building and rich characters, especially that of Yvenne is a great start to a new series. This is a gorgeous imaginative book which is brimming with amazing details and colour. I loved the world she has created.  It is harsh, unrelenting, dark, and violent, with a lush romance at its heart. I am eagerly awaiting its sequel!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.