Original publish date: 21 August 2014
Angels and demons. Good and evil. The standard stuff of a supernatural story and The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost is no exception when it comes to including the religious archetypes of holy angels and hellish demons.
Ivy is a 20 year old on the hunt for her 18 year old sister Jasmine, who has gone missing. Ivy’s feverish hunt follows the death of her adoptive parents the previous week in a car crash. Thrown into the mix are the hallucination-like visions that Ivy gets–she can see things, shimmery things, that others can’t. This has led to a myriad of doctor’s appointments, medications, and peer ridicule.
When Ivy is meant to be picked up by Adrian, a not quite human “creature” who was raised by demons, she is immediately thrust into the ancient battle between the Archons (angels) and demons as a fellow not quite human “creature.” The shimmery aspect to Ivy’s “seeing things” is her ability to see through glamour–basically psychic disguises–and into the demon realms, which are known cities that have been taken over. The ancient battle between good and evil hinges on biblical weapons that can only be wielded by a few bloodlines, and Ivy must wage that battle if she hopes to find her demon-kidnapped sister.
The story moved along rather well and for someone religiously uneducated, such as myself, there was sufficient detail about the various aspects referenced throughout; however, I did have a few issues with it. First and foremost in setting the story up it never quite said where Ivy was from. It mentioned college and then the other areas she was searching or visited with Adrian, but what’s home? There was also a poor establishment of the passing of time. When I thought a few days or weeks had gone by, apparently it was months that had passed. It wouldn’t take much to establish a timeline; a sprinkled phrase here or there could really make a difference in reader orientation. And please don’t get me started on the EXTREMELY cliched (significantly) older guy who sacrifices himself for the girl. I mean, I’ve mostly got guys older than me in my life, but COME ON. Not all guys need to be supernaturally over 100 and the girl in her late teens or early 20s. I will admit that I was pleased that Ivy had some agency that could have otherwise been lacking–and certainly is in the case of another well-known and ridiculed supernatural story: Twilight.
On the whole, it was a decent read but I’m not sure if I’m compelled to read the rest of the forthcoming series due to the lackluster establishment of time and place, as well as the horribly cliched character archetypes utilized for the story.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.