Review: Ash to Embers by CV Larkin

Ash to EmbersReviewed by Jen

I’ll give CV Larkin credit where it’s due. I really liked the world-building in this dark new urban fantasy series.  It’s not really like anything else I have read, which is part of the attraction. So many books in the genre feel like a rehash of something else, but this book never tries to cash in on someone else’s successful formula. It follows its own path and –for the first half especially– had me completely invested in both the core characters and their journey.

Tian is a killer who is nearly dead inside.  She feels nothing, beyond the pain of constantly being killed and resurrected. She is a mixed-breed Fae: powerful enough to be immortal, but weak enough to be enslaved to the pureblood Fae.  She not only must serve her “owner,” but the cruel Oracle who keeps her under his thumb.  At this point, true death would be a blessing.  But it’s not a luxury she has.

Sio is a man with a tortured past, a penchant for underground fights, and an insatiable sex drive. In his own way, he is as dead inside as Tian… until the day he first lays eyes on her.  Though he didn’t meet her that night, Tian’s image is seared into his brain –and when he stumbles across her again, he is even more entranced than before.  I won’t spoil the bizarre events that bring them together, but suffice it to say they are dark and bloody.  The thing is, the fierce attraction isn’t one sided.  Tian is so drawn to Sio that she practically comes alive in his presence.

They end up working together to keep Sio safe from the Bad Guys who are targeting him; this, as Tian searches for a Fae artifact at the Oracle’s behest.  Along the way, they must face nightmare creatures, vengeful ex-lovers, and their own devastating pasts.  Both characters are so very damaged. Yet they manage to find peace in one another.  Well, as much peace as you can find when everyone is trying to kill you.

The characters are well drawn and easy to care about. Not only Sio and Tian, but the secondary characters as well. I cared what happened with the heartbroken Xavier, the sullen Royal, the enigmatic Ceyla and the clueless human Loren.  I want to know more about all of them. I want to know their stories.

But the book has some issues.  Though the pacing and plotting worked really well in the beginning, there were some parts in the second half which went a bit off course.  The pacing faltered and we went off too far into the mythos.  I also found that I had unanswered questions –or at least unsatisfactory answers.  Like why the wizards were targeting Sio… the explanation didn’t ring true.  Who bound him? Why? What’s Tian’s backstory?  How/ why was she chosen to become an avatar?  Is the goddess just going to stay inside her? What’s the basis of her connection with Sio?  How did they get from the bathroom stall to the subway? (I read that chapter 3 times.) Some of these questions niggled more than others, but there were too many to ignore. Maybe some will be answered in subsequent books, but I felt like it was a lot left that I didn’t entirely understand.

Overall, I thought it was a story worth reading. And I would like to read the next installment (despite the fact that it doesn’t appear to be about Royal and Ceyla.)  I’d recommend if you’re looking for something dark and different and you’re cool with some questions left unanswered.

Rating: B/B-

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

Ash to Embers
by CV Larkin
Release Date: April 27, 2014


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