Review: From the Ashes (Fires of Redemption #1) by Xen Sanders

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant.

Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called this and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father's inhuman empire. Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford--antisocial graduate researcher, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

But one kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. When his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias's hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile higher, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean--or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?


That's the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. The writing style is both emotive and evocative qualities that I found very satisfying. Sanders puts sentences together in clever and beautiful ways that put you in this world immediately.  

I give him pieces of myself, as if only his hands can arrange the puzzle of them into something human.

Tobias tells this story from his perspective. He's an aberrant (think X-Men) and he's lonely. The loneliness he feels is pervasive and visceral. His father is a despotic megalomaniac who has taken over Thailand and turned it into his headquarters, Xinth, and filled it with aberrants to do his bidding. His father believes all humans are the enemy and are meant to be ruled by intimidation and fear. And violence. 

He's trained Tobias to be his executioner.  

Tobias feels trapped in a life not of his choosing, one foisted on him by his father's and society's expectations, but somehow the embers of the person he wants to be haven't flamed out. Sean is the spark that ignites those embers and forces him to consider the possibility of his ideal self. 

It comes down to choice for Tobias. Will he choose to break free of his father? Will he fan the flames of fear that humans have towards aberrants by becoming what they fear most? The idea of choosing to stray from everything he's ever known and accepted as truth about himself doesn't come easily to him. More often than not he thinks himself incapable of making the adjustment even when faced with an alternate reality. 

Tobias is something of an anti-hero. He has a bloody past as his father's enforcer and he talks often of enjoying the pain and suffering of others but not much of his sociopathy translated to the page which I found disappointing.  

The vast majority of the book centers around Tobias and Sean's burgeoning relationship which is very erotic in an ethereal way. I wouldn't label this erotica nor would I say it's explicit. What it is, first and foremost, is romantic. I bought into them and their coupletry lock, stock and barrel.

I want him to see me-really see me, the monster, the aberrant. I want him to know how beautiful he is...and how much more beautiful he would be if I could leave marks of pain and blood all over his body, see the strain and torment rippling through him. I want to possess him. I want to destroy him.

I liked the dark ones, what can I say? I was pleasantly surprised to see Tobias has a touch of the masochist in him a.k.a. my achilles' heel.

It seems their relationship is doomed from the start which makes the tone somewhat melancholic but doesn't tip over the line into bleak. What helped temper it was that I could see what Tobias was too close to which fueled my optimism for Tobias and Sean. 

I couldn't help but like Tobias. He pulls on the heartstrings. Sean is still a big on an enigma and I can't shake the feeling that he's withholding something. 

There is great exposition with regard to scientific aspects of this book much of which went over my head, but I still found interesting nonetheless. Ir you're worried that it negatively affects the pacing, don't; it remains steady throughout with the last quarter or so being action packed. 

From the Ashes is definitely a first book in this series. It doesn't end on a cliff, though. There is an HEA/HFN but there are loose ends. 

Why not 5 Hearts then?

Primarily, there is a loose end regarding Langdon that had plenty of time to get resolved and never did. The other thing is as much as revelled in the writing style as the narrative evolved there were times when I thought it became repetitive. Lastly, I find the worldbuilding lacking.

I'm looking forward to where this series is going and I would recommend it to MM romance, sci-fi and superhero fans. 

I may be an aberrant- but he makes me human, and that's something I never want to lose.

"You defeat the devil when you hold on to hope."


A review copy was provided.

Find out more on Goodreads.

No comments:

Post a Comment