Review – A Realm of Ash and Shadow


A Realm of Ash and Shadow


A Realm of Ash and Shadow #1


Lara Buckheit


Paranormal Romance


Eighteen-year-old princess, Valeria Breault, is sure of three things. She was exiled from Empyrean because her father didn’t want the hassle of raising her. Her perfect realm would be better off without a mortal-raised smart-ass with a foul mouth and penchant for trouble. Neither of those things matter when a horde of demons crashes prom.
Forced to fight for her life, Valeria narrowly escapes being captured by the Realm of the Forsaken, only to be dragged back to Empyrean before she is meant to return. Instead of the beautiful utopia from her bedtime stories, Val finds herself thrown into a hellish nightmare where the poor are dying, the rich are thriving, and her claim to the throne is in jeopardy. But not if Valeria can help it.
The overwhelming desire to belong and a craving for power has her making choices that make it harder and harder to guard her heart against the man who’s bound to protect her, the god she’s vowed to hate, and the darkness that’s growing inside her. Only time will tell if the secrets she unravels and the alliances she makes will lead to the throne or the pyre.


3stars rating

Okay, I’m just going to say it… this book was a real struggle to get through 🙁 🙁
And if you know me, you know I really hate saying that, but it just felt… all over the place, everything was confusing, and sometimes I wondered if the author lost the plot somewhere (or maybe it’s just so big, I can’t see it anymore).


There are four realms: the Realm of the Mortals, Empyrean, the Realm of the Forsaken (think Hell), and the Realm of the Divine (Heaven). Mortals are playthings for gods and demons alike until one god fell and created Empyrean, which you could compare to utopia.
We meet up with Valeria, the lost princess. She has been exiled to the mortal realm by her father after her mother died and is waiting for her 18th birthday and graduation to return to Empyrean and her throne.
Things go seriously wrong at prom when demons attack, and she gets kidnapped by a handsome stranger, Gideon, with whom she shares a connection.
However, upon reaching Empyrean, she finds that not everything is as she was told…

So yeah… I mean, that sounds good, right? So, of course, I raised my hand for an advanced reader copy 🙂

Scenes and environments were well described throughout the book, but it feels like a lot of setting the stage took up a serious chunk of the book.

Character development:

I didn’t like Valeria at all. I’m sorry! I think she’s an uncaring, naive, and selfish b*tch. So close to anger and violence for the slightest reason. All she does is search for an excuse to grab onto the power. No, no, she didn’t resonate with me at all.
Gideon is a straight-up good (and handsome) guy, and he cares about Valeria. While I would want him to be more assertive and less forgiving, he’s okay.
Malachi, I liked a lot. No nonsense and a giant flirt, what’s not to like? 😀
And then we have the big bad… Vemdour, god of the Forsaken. Sigh. Yeah, let’s leave it at that. That guy has so many layers… I wouldn’t know what I would do if I were the one facing him.
But actually, I think that Mistress Marjorie was the biggest badass of them all 😀 I loved her.

Pacing & Flow:

The pacing was a bit like a rollercoaster, starting slow, picking up the pace before tapering off again and the grand finale at the end.

The book itself:

The book was well written with no (noticeable) errors. There are sexual scenes, but more fade to black.
It has 476 pages (though it really felt like way more), is spread over 43 chapters, and is told from Valeria’s point of view.

Final Thoughts:

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book, courtesy of NetGalley. While the heroine didn’t resonate with me, I hope she will grow as the series progresses. Unfortunately, I found this one too messy and confusing to continue the series.