A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic. Some people knit socks by the fire at night. 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.
A Curse of Ash & Embers (The Blackbone Witches, #1)Featured
Along her journey to the new place of employment, Elodie learns that there is magic in the world, but she is not sure about the morality of it, seeing both good and bad people who wield those powers. When she finally arrives at the place of employment, she finds that she was unexpected, albeit needed. Aleida, a witch, has taken over the place after killing her magical "mother," Gyssha, a cruel and powerful witch. The house is in disarray and Aleida is barely able to take care of herself.
Elodie decides to stay and help, but her journey through this new world with be fraught with questions and mysterious people and monsters.
What I loved: This book was really character-driven, and I appreciated the insight into Elodie and Aleida's characters. Aleida had some complexity in her decisions and past that have led her to the present. As we slowly get to learn about her through Elodie, she endears herself to the reader. Magical beings appear during the story, and there were many of these which I was fully intrigued by and enjoyed meeting. It felt quite imaginative at times, and the slow reveal and learning of new magical creatures was quite interesting.
The themes about power and morality were also interesting. Although the major questions have not yet been answered, this was an interesting start to the series, and I do really want to know more about why Elodie was brought to the house and what the future will hold for her and Aleida.
What left me wanting more: Aside from Aleida, other characters we meet, such as the boy in the woods and the people in the farm, were hard to connect with. Elodie almost views everyone with a sizable detachment, which makes sense with her past, although she somewhat innocently tells all to anyone. I think I wanted a bit more oomph in some of these connections to be pulled more into their stories and lives. Some of the other plotlines that felt disconnected are more likely to be revealed in later books, and I do want to continue with the series.
Final verdict: Slowly building and character-driven, A CURSE OF ASH AND EMBERS is an intriguing YA fantasy read that I am curious to read more about. Recommend for fans of A CURSE OF ROSES, A GOLDEN FURY, and HUSH.