“Heir of Ashes” is one of the most fun non-stop action / paranormal thrillers I’ve read to date. We follow along as Roxanne flees from a science facility that kept her nearly half her life, performing barbarous experiments on her. She’s been on the run for a few years and the scientists are still eager to catch her, giving her no peace from the paranormal bounty hunters sent after her. Roxanne has no idea why this is; she knows she’s different but not the full extent of it, at least, not in a way that would account for the escalating pursuit. However, most other people know what she is, why she’s different, and want to use/cage/unleash that thing in her, but Roxanne doesn’t stop running long enough to truly get those answers. Ultimately, that was my only qualm with this book. For as much as I loved the thrilling, non-stop action and plot twists as Roxanne tries to get away from everyone after her, I needed the book to slow down for a hot minute so I didn’t feel as confused as Roxanne until about 67% into the story.
Bazzar has a wicked imagination when it comes to throwing supernatural baddies at the main character. Everything from different classes of vampires, mages, human/demon hybrids, dark sorcerers, shape-shifter doppelgangers, werewolf/vampire hybrids… like, there’s A LOT and that’s really cool, except it all just flies right by. In order to achieve the heart pounding pace Bazzar maintains, the world/creature building suffers and you don’t get to see much of these supernatural beings outside of Roxanne and the one guy actually trying to help her, Logan. You just get teased with hints of what they’re capable of and what makes them scary, or forces to be reckoned with. This is exceedingly true when it comes to Remo Drammen. I won’t spoil what or who he is, but needless to say, he felt like a missed opportunity to showcase this preternatural world and make the reader go “whoa!” or truly fear for Roxanne’s safety. By introducing so many creatures and having so many of them want to harm Roxanne so she has to run from them, I never got as drawn into Roxanne’s world the way I wanted to be.
I did like that Roxanne always felt relatable though, despite her otherness. She was scared and anxious and the author does a wonderful job of showing her emotions rather than just telling the reader that she’s terrified. I really enjoyed that vulnerability, and I loved how it balanced out with her abilities. She is a tough lady, and can stand toe-to-toe with some seriously bad dudes which, when she faces the man who sexually assaulted her as a child, makes the encounter all the more satisfying because you know so deeply how she feels, and she’s powerful enough to really kick some butt!
There is a romance subplot to this that I wished I liked more, but that’s because the main characters don’t do a great deal of talking to one another, just a lot of lingering looks that apparently “say” all they need to. So the romance fell a bit flat for me, but given this is a series, I’m sure it’ll come into play again and it may develop into something I can really sink my teeth into (no pun intended).
There are so many twist and turns in this book, so many times where Roxanne gets caught, gets free, then gets caught again by a different group, that the book didn’t end where I thought it should, or with the conclusion I was expecting. Usually that’s a good thing, but this felt a bit too neat and tidy and therefore a bit flat. It sets up the sequel nicely but I didn’t feel as satisfied as I wanted to be, and maybe that’s because of the reader getting some explanation as to “why Roxanne” so, SO late in the book. A lot of my confusion about the creatures and their abilities still remain, and while I’m sure more will get explained come the next book, I was hoping for a bit more in the first installment so I had a better understanding of the creatures beforehand. If some of those instances of Roxanne escaping from one person to the next were removed and we spent a bit more time on just a few of those escapes and encounters so the reader got a better sense of these supernatural beings and their powers, I think the whole wrap-up at the end would have felt much better.
This was a very creative story and I really enjoyed the non-stop nature of the action, and how well the author writes in first person in order to make the reader feel what Roxanne feels. But the fast pace did hurt the world building a bit, and that’s really too bad because this would have been a perfect book otherwise. So I’ll be giving this a 3.75 stars and am looking forward to seeing where Roxanne and Logan go from here, and hopefully some of the bad guys from the first book make an appearance in later novels! And thanks to the author for providing me with an advanced copy for review.
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