Title: Ashes of Retribution
Author: L. J. Andrews
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date of Publication: June 28, 2018
Publisher: 4 Arrows
Adira lives in a dystopian world where people have been divided in two groups: the “Pure” and the “Impure”. The pure have no deformities, no marks on their bodies, no scars. The “Impure” could be anyone–from someone who has eyes that are two different colours to someone with a little scar on their left hand. When Adira was a child, her maid was an “Impure”, and Adira ridiculed her for it. But when her maid was killed while protecting her, Adira realized that the impure are not that different after all. Now that she knows this, what is she willing to do about it?
It took me a bit of time to get into this book. I didn’t fall in love with Adira immediately, and I wasn’t entirely sure where the story was going. About fifty pages in, things got interesting, and I started to understand why Adira was the way she was. Then, once she’s kidnapped by the Shadow Assassins, the book becomes unputdownable.
Ashes of Retribution is chock full of interesting characters. Signe is a badass female assassin who takes no prisoners (I mean that figuratively, because, of course, she takes Adira as a prisoner). Dominus Kage seems like the epitome of evil, but he’s revealed to have a lot of layers. Ren is a damaged boy with a horrifying past. Mace–well I won’t say much about Mace aside from the fact that I love a book that gives me a horrible character to hate with all my soul.
I found it refreshing to read a young adult dystopian fantasy with no romance. At the beginning there’s a potential love interest, but any potential romance is quashed pretty quickly. A few other scenes have some “Will they or won’t they?” vibes to them, but this in no way dominated the story. This book is about Adira discovering herself, becoming a woman (a badass woman at that) and she doesn’t need a man to do it. Even in her training–while some of her trainers were men, she was primarily trained by Signe, the female assassin.
The concept of society being divided by such arbitrary delineations such as “pure” and “impure” was very compelling to me. It made a statement about humanity, and reading the ways in which the impure viewed the world–and all the atrocities that they’d experienced–was quite fascinating and, quite frankly, upsetting. Towards the end of the novel there are also some interesting revelations that are quite heartfelt. No spoilers here–you’ll have to read it to find out what I mean!
I recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a good dystopian fantasy novel that will transport them to a new world with fascinating, three-dimensional characters and a fast, engaging plot.
*Thank you to L. J. Andrews for the review copy in exchange for an honest review!*
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