A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I've been dying to get my hands on this one for months. I enjoyed the From Blood & Ash series, but I'd been hearing rave reviews of this one!
So let me say first: I did enjoy FBAA. However, it had some glaring issues for me early on. I give JLA a lot of credit for creating such a fun world, but FBAA is mostly world building. As an author, it's difficult to balance action and backstory, so I get it. I was excited for this one, but hoping it wasn't just a replay of FBAA.
Spoiler Alert: It wasn't.
Sera, the main character, is similar to Poppy in FBAA, but I liked her so much better. She was so much more cynical, and I really love that we saw what happened when she was supposed to become Nyktos's consort, instead of it being a build up TO that.
Sera's life was basically taken from her as a result of a deal made between her father and the Primal of Death. The Primal would take her as his Consort when she came of age and it would heal whatever is cursing the land. When the time comes, however, the Primal refuses Sera and states he has no need for a Consort.
Fast forward three years and Sera feels like a failure. Her mother, the queen, never treats her like a daughter. Her father died when she was very small, so all she has ever known is her mother's coldness, her step-father's aloofness, her a**hole step-brother (and in line for the throne) and her step sister. Only her step sister has ever treated her like family.
I love a character jaded by the world.
After three years, Sera is basically regarded as a handmaiden to the queen. But! She's also an assassin. While in town one night, she spies something curious: Gods wandering through the city and hurting people.
Enter: Ash. Yall. I can't even begin to tell you what it was, but Ash had me hooked from the START.
Now, it wouldn't be a JLA novel without the MC stabbing the LI right? Right! We love stabby heroines!
I don't want to go too far into detail because I'd really encourage you to read this, but let me say, when the Primal comes for her, everything changes. This one was so good, and I am dying for the next book!