Ashes of Gold
- Author: J. Elle
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: January 11, 2022
- Publisher: S&S/Denene Millner
- Series: Wings of Ebony #2
Thank you to NetGalley and S&S/Denene Millner for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: violence, blood, murder, torture
In the heart-pounding conclusion to the Wings of Ebony duology, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicole Yoon calls “bold, inventive, big-hearted and deeply perceptive,” Rue makes her final stand to reclaim her people’s stolen magic.
Rue has no memory of how she ended up locked in a basement prison without her magic or her allies. But she’s a girl from the East Row. And girls from the East Row don’t give up. Girls from the East Row pick themselves back up when they fall. Girls from the East Row break themselves out.
But reuniting with her friends is only half the battle. When she finds them again, Rue makes a vow: she will find a way to return the magic that the Chancellor has stolen from her father’s people. Yet even on Yiyo Peak, Rue is a misfit—with half a foot back in Houston and half a heart that is human as well as god, she’s not sure she’s the right person to lead the fight to reclaim a glorious past.
When a betrayal sends her into a tailspin, Rue must decide who to trust and how to be the leader that her people deserve…because if she doesn’t, it isn’t just Yiyo that will be destroyed—it will be Rue herself.
I’ve been so excited to read this book, and before I started, I did a quick audiobook reread of the first book in the series. Getting into the story again only made me more excited about reading this one.
I quickly got caught up in Rue’s world(s), and the story starts with her back in Ghizon, readying herself to battle against the Chancellor. But things go disastrously, and she winds up in a cell with no memory of what happened. But, since she’s Rue and known for being stubborn, she doesn’t give up and wait to find out what happens next. She makes something happen.
Once she gets back to Yiyo, things get even more complicated. The people there don’t fully trust her, and she’s still worried about the people she left back home in East Row. As she comes up with even more dangerous plans, she has to figure out who she can trust with her life … and the life of the people she is now responsible for.
I loved Rue’s journey in this book — it’s such an amazing story of self-discovery. She has to figure out where she really belongs, what she truly wants, and most importantly, who she is now and how that fits with both the person that she wants to be and who she needs to become. She is sort of thrust into positions of leadership all throughout the story, and constantly fights against this role. Rue knows what she wants to do, and she knows that she can fight for it, but she doesn’t know if she is capable of leading, or if she even wants to.
Along the way, she also has to let down her walls, and learn how to let other people in. It’s something she hasn’t really been very good at, although she’s ride or die for the people she cares about. And at the end of the last book, Bri, her Ghizon ride or die, was kind of on shaky ground. Bri is struggling with her own issues — everything she grew up believing has turned out to be based on a lie, and while she’s been trying her best to accept and adjust to this, it’s a slow process and Bri makes mistakes. It was interesting to see how her friendship with Rue shifts as a result of this, and I kept hoping that Bri would make the jump from willing to learn and become a true ally to Rue’s people.
There’s probably the weirdest love triangle I’ve ever seen in this book, and I think a lot of that stems from the fact that there isn’t any drama or hurt feelings surrounding it. There’s something developing between Rue and Jhamal, but Julius, her old flame, is still in the picture. I wasn’t sure which way this was going to go, but in the end, I loved how it all worked out.
Overall, this book was really enjoyable. It’s fast-paced, with a lot of action and a good number of plot twists I didn’t see coming, although there were a few that I guessed in advance. It talks about prejudice and greed, learning to accept differences and work together, and the power of friendship, found family, and community. I’m super impressed with J. Elle’s writing, and will definitely be on the lookout for more of her work.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 11
Categories: Book Review