Book Review: A Curse of Ash and Embers by Jo Spurrier

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Title: A Curse of Ash and Embers
Author: Jo Spurrier
Series: Tales of the Blackbone Witches #1
Publication Date: October 1st 2018

Synopsis: "There are some problems only magic can solve.

Some people knit socks by the fire. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters. But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it's Elodie's job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she'd find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha's final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie's help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it's still better than going back home."

My thoughts: This was seriously just a really nice romp in a fantasy world - filled with magic, interesting characters and creatures, and of course the requisite evil old witch character lurking in the background.

The characters in this were quite interesting, though quite a few of them didn't hang around in the story long enough for me to get to know them very well. The main character - Elodie - intrigued me. Most of the time it seemed like she was trying to repress her emotions: she just had to deal with what was happening and that was that. But every now and then a truer, more intense version of her shined through, and I found myself getting drawn in deeper because of those flashes. The other character, Aleida, was fascinating, too, though I didn't find her to be as grumpy and prickly as the synopsis seemed to make out. The more I found out about her, the more interested I got, and it was surrounding these two characters that I felt the whole story was built and revolved.

The prose is eminently readable and flows really nicely. I didn't find any of the lyrical beauty here that I found in The Boneless Mercies by April Tucholke, but what I did find was a tale that twisted, turned, and kept me spellbound every time I picked it up. I really just loved getting to know the world and the characters of this book - and I love that this is the first book of a series. I could see myself impatiently waiting for each instalment (as, in fact, I am already doing) - and I really thought it was fantastic that there was a sample of the next book at the end of this one - it fed my appetite a little, enough that I definitely want more.

Overall, this is a slowly addicting novel, with enough magic and whimsy and action to keep you glued.

{I received a review copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: ''Gyssha,' she interrupted. 'She's dead.'
'I, I'm sorry to hear that.'

The woman snorted. 'You wouldn't say that if you knew her.''

You would like this book if: You like a magical tale with witches and dryads and monsters (oh my!); you enjoy the odd magical battle with cottage-living.

Tea to drink while reading this book: I would recommend a dark black tea, or some fresh mint tea - both are favoured in the book. Though I believe Aleida is more partial to coffee...

Rating:  7.5/10

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