Book Review: A Court of Honey and Ash
A Court of Honey and Ash by Shannon Mayer and Kelly St. Clare is a book that I came across on bookstagram. The cover itself intrigued me although the title had me giving the side eye. My first instinct is to tell you not to name any book A Court of... because Sarah J. Maas has that on lock. Her books will be the first to appear in any searches and they are iconic. Those of us obsessed with those books are going to side eye any others that come along trying to capitalize on that naming convention.
This is book one in the Honey and Ice Trilogy, and the story follows Kallik (aka Alli) who is half human/half fae, an orphan and outcast, and is sent to a place called Underhill to be trained as a soldier. The book starts out with a final test of training that will determine where she work next. (And yes, her friend mentioned is here named Rowan). Once this exhibition is completed, an Oracle comes to collect their oaths to the kingdom where when Alli gives hers Underhill is somehow destroyed.
The story then takes us to where Alli is from, and we are introduced to her childhood best friend. I did not appreciate how this character was described or how she was represented in the book. Most females are more than their large boobs and baking skills. This could have been done a lot better and is an unfortunate piece of the book. We are also introduced to Faolan whom Alli has had a crush on since he saved her from drowning as a child then became her mentor in the orphanage. He appears to want nothing to do with her and is not nice to her. She has spent her whole life at Underhill trying to prove that she is worthy.
Alli gives her oath of service to the king then suspects they are going to arrest her for what happened to Underhill and goes on the run to Alaska. She learns several things about the courts (kingdoms of Seelie and Unseelie), the truth about Underhill, meets two males that seem to create a love triangle, is captured and brought back where she is sentenced to die. The first book ends on a massive cliffhanger. I am keeping this spoiler free.
Alli is one of those main characters that I do not love but tolerate. She reminds me of a mix of Katniss (Hunger Games), Jude (The Cruel Prince), and Tris (Divergent). She is this headstrong, stubborn female that just makes odd decisions, appears to not be very self-aware, and does not seem to read others well. Everything seems to be based on her experience and world view which does set up for character development in future books.
What I liked:
I liked the story began in the middle of action - in this case, in Alli's final test at Underhill
There is a character that you hate immediately, and he was well written. I predict he will show up in book two or three.
There is a lot of tension between Alli and Faolan, and why would he keep tabs on her if he wasn't interested deep down (even if it is technically forbidden)?
There was a lot of action.
What I didn't like:
Alli got on my nerves a little bit.
I do not like how the friend Cinth was represented.
Some of the scene sequences felt rushed. For example, I know Alli was supposed to be in Alaska for story set up purposes, but her going on the run in the manner that it was written was not fully flushed out. It didn't make sense for her to assume someone was talking about her and what she did to Underhill then believe she had to go on the run for it.
Will I be reading book two? Yes! Now I'm invested and need to know what happens after the cliffhanger. The story itself is entertaining. I have not read anything previously by these authors but will look into their back log now.
Do I recommend? Yes
Orphaned. Trained to fight. Raised to fear the power of Underhill. Secretly in love with a man who doesn’t want me.
I’m still just Alli, aka the half-human orphan fae, but my life is looking up for the first time. It only took me my whole 24 years.
But when Underhill—the ancestral home of the fae—shatters, making it impossible for any fae to enter, I’m the only one who knows who did it.
A secret that will be the death of me if I do nothing.
A brutal madness spreads through the fae as they lose their connection to Underhill, and to save my people, my only choice is to leave all I have fought for and go on the run.
Unless I figure out how the hell magic that has existed since the dawn of time was destroyed with a single touch, well, an entire life spent fighting to prove myself isn’t going to mean anything at all.
I must find the answer to the riddle of Underhill’s shattering.
Hunted by the very man I loved once upon a time.
Order here: https://amzn.to/3Cv3h1R