Title: EMBER AND STONE
Series: ENA OF ILBREA #1
Author: MEGAN O’RUSSELL
Publication Date: DECEMBER 26, 2019
Ena never hoped for a peaceful life. She never dreamt she’d become a killer either.
After her home is reduced to ash, Ena is swallowed by a world of secrets and magic. Legends warned of dark shadows hiding in the mountains. They didn’t warn of the dangers of falling in love with a myth.
When a stranger with sorcery in his blood gives Ena a glimpse of a life she didn’t know she longed for, a beautiful future seems within reach.
But hope demands a heavy price.
Slay a monster, or risk returning to the world that nearly destroyed her.
To survive the battle ahead, Ena must become the assassin her enemies never meant to create.Just as great as the previous book, but this is more in-depth and provide a lot of important information which make the whole story more enjoyable. I was nervous because this can be a hit or miss after I read the previous book and knowing how great it was, but I was glad to find out that this book remain successful.
This time around, the story focuses on Ena’s journey outside of Harane, and her relationship with her brother and his other two companions. There are some new faces making an appearance in the story. This is more action-packed than the previous one, and more intense. As a reader, I get to see more new places as Ena explore the world outside of Harane. To me, this is an adventurous story and I really loved it.
Of course, there are some dangerous missions that Ena along with the others had to complete. The missions aren’t easy, and I had a hard time trying to remain calm because there are so many things that can go wrong. The whole time I was nervous and on edge, I was hoping things are going smoothly which it did even with a slight error. I really enjoyed seeing how Ena and the others are handling the situation and how they completed their missions. Honestly, I’m so excited to see what they will do in the next book, and if there are so many upcoming missions waiting for them.
The story provide a lot of information regarding the Guild soldiers and what they do. They’re basically working for the sorcerers, and I was wondering if the sorcerers will show up more in the next book seeing they weren’t in this one. A sorcerer showed up in the previous one, so I wonder if the said sorcerer along with other sorcerers will make an appearance, because I need more magic in this type of story.
Not that the lack of magic bothers me seeing the intense fight did just fine to make me enjoy this book, but it might be nice to have some intense magic action or battle too since there has been a mention of magic multiple of times in the story.
The story finally provide more details regarding the ghost stories that Ena has been saying since the previous book. The ghosts part was nice and it does fit well in the story. Also the connection of the mountains with the Black Bloods. The history of the Black Bloods has something to do with the history of the mountains which I find to be so informative. I finally get to know more about where the magic came from and how the mountains are safer than anywhere else, and how great the people who were born a true Black Bloods are. A true-born Black Bloods does have magic, and I hope to see more of their magic in the next book.
The overall storyline and plot was very exciting and it can be so surprising to me when I didn’t expect anything. This book did so well without any plot twist—not that I find one or see one, I’m just saying that this book doesn’t need a plot twist to make it more interesting.
As for the characters, all of them are great. I’m just so glad that the author managed to make all the characters so likable—be it the main ones or the side ones.
Ena in this book has a bit of great character development and I loved that the author doesn’t change her too much or change her in a bad way. Ena is still the same Ena but with an upgraded version—literally the best version. She was still brave and fierce, but in this one, she had more proper training in self-defense. What she went through in the beginning was horrible, and seeing that someone willingly taught her how to defend herself and how to properly fight was a great change. She really need those skills so that she won’t be put in the place where the soldiers can easily harm her again.
There are a lot of strong and good traits that Ena’s character has shown throughout the book. Her bravery and her selflessness are what makes her an amazing character, and make her an overall a good person. She really loves helping others in need, and despite her rough relationship with her brother, she still helped him when he got hurt or injured. There are times when she was feeling so vulnerable and so helpless, but that didn’t stop her from trying her best to help a lot more people who needed help. She also had troubled sleeping at night due to her nightmares, but she only keep getting stronger from there.
I hated seeing how her brother and Liam, doesn’t want her to do so many things, and all they wanted her to do was stay at the camp with the others and just rest. They keep on saying she shouldn’t do this and she shouldn’t do that which get so irritating, like just because she’s a girl that means she don’t have to work or do any light stuff, let alone the heavy ones. I feel bad for her because she doesn’t feel any freedom when she was around the guys. I truly get her a lot, but I’m happy to see she was so determined to do any works even carry out a dangerous mission. Her strong determination and her full confidence are what make her successful in doing her mission. I truly admired her for not letting anyone’s opinions bother her and that she won’t let the guys tell her what she can and cannot do. She’s her own person and can handle basically everything just fine. I can’t wait to see more of her fierceness in the next book, and to see more of her successfully completing the dangerous mission like she did here. It was a big risk, but it’s a risk she was willing to take, and no one can stop her.
Emmet is Ena’s brother, and he finally make an appearance in this book. I’ve been wondering what happened to him in the previous book since he left without any words and he just disappeared. It was nice to know he was helping the Black Bloods and try to protect those who have magic from being taken by the Guild soldiers and sorcerers. What he did was truly remarkable, he just want to make Ilbrea a safe place, and he did it by risking his life. Although he was cold toward Ena for the majority of the story, but Emmet as a whole person is a great guy with a kind heart. He acted more as a leader and many look up to him. Emmet is a great character, even though he was moody and doesn’t crack a smile. But he does have good intentions.
What I find hilarious was how Emmet is so famous in the Black Blood clan, and how everyone in Mave’s knows him. I find it funny how Ena was confused about his brother’s popularity, she was asking what did her brother do to make him so well-known by many people, and when she introduced herself as Emmet’s sister, everyone started to treat her like some sort of royalty. I was just as confused as Ena, but after learning the reason why, I finally understood it. There are two different reasons why Emmet is so popular and why he was so well-respected by others. The first one made a lot of sense, but the second one was a straight up comedy. That’s what makes Emmet so great and unique. I truly admired his leadership skills and the way he plotted things, he is a genius and no one can deny it. I hope to see more of his development in the next book.
Liam is a new addition, and he is also a great character. He came off as this mysterious stranger but the more time he has in the story, the more I get to know him as a person. His character is pretty much different than the others and is nearly too-perfect, but I’m glad to know he does have flaws too. He doesn’t share a lot about his life and I do hope the next book will explore more on it. Overall, he is a great guy and he does protect those he cares a lot. He is still a mystery to me, he still doesn’t like revealing a lot of things and he always guard his feelings. Liam is surely a hard character to solve. But I do like him, and his personality. Also his protective behavior made him so intimidating, and I wonder what’s in store for him next. I hope he will opens up more about a lot of things and speak his mind instead of hiding what he was thinking in his head.
Finn is also a new addition, and he is definitely my top favorite character. He was so funny and just an overall a hilarious person. He is literally a mood. He lived in a dangerous world, and did a dangerous mission, and yet all he can think about is food all the time. First thing that always came to his mind is food. No wonder I connect to his character more than I do with the others. Finn and food is a whole mood. That one scene where he was sleeping and he suddenly woke up sniffing the air and said, ”Is that food?” Definitely relatable!
I loved Finn so much and I adored his character. Aside from his huge love for food, he was also a great guy with a kind heart, and a mood-maker of the group. The whole story was just him along with Ena, Emmet, and Liam traveling to other parts of Ilbrea together to do a very dangerous mission. So out of the four of them, Finn always be the one to say hilarious things. I truly appreciate him for that, because the other three are way too serious, and Ena and Emmet has unfinished problems between them, so Finn being a jokester in the group makes it much better. I laughed so hard when he said anything funny while everyone was being serious. Aside from that, there are times when he was being serious too but not too much, and he was also an excellent fighter and is good at handling some difficult situations. I need to see more of him fighting the Guild soldiers like he did in the last few chapters, that was just so impressive. Finn better survive in the next book, or else things will be dull without him and his strong personality.
These characters were written so well, and I loved how the author doesn’t make either of them weak, but instead gave them equal strength, and showed how important their roles are in the story. All of them had a part to play and they did it excellently. I loved their work as a team, and also happy that Ena shared a good relationship with them, except for her brother.
The sibling bond between Ena and Emmet was very shaky, there are so many things that still remain unfinished between them. It was sad to see how they aren’t as close as they were before. Both of them are struggling to repair their broken bond. And despite the hurt and the anger, both of them still protect each other and making sure none of them are in danger or get injured.
The whole time I truly feel Ena’s hurt, the hurt she felt because her brother doesn’t often visit her, that he left her in Harane while he lived in Nantic, and how he just disappeared without informing her where he went to. I get why she was angry at his brother, I mean he’s the only family she has left and she was so scared at the idea that she might never see him again. I’m happy they team up in this book and working together to bring down the Guild soldiers. I loved seeing these two siblings being an intimidating warriors and try to help the people of Ilbrea. I hope things will be going well with them next, and that they put more effort in trying to mend things between them. It was sad to see a brother and his sister having a bad relationship with each other.
This story doesn’t have a lot of romance in it and I’m glad that the romance isn’t the focus or a big deal in the story. There was a spark between Liam and Ena, and I admit that they look good together but to me, it was way too soon for Ena to jump into a new relationship. She ended things badly with Cal—which I’m still bitter about—and I definitely want her to take her time to discover herself first before she even think of a future with Liam. They do have chemistry, but Liam is fighting his inner battle and he just doesn’t seem so sure about his relationship with Ena. He definitely need more time and Ena need to take a break from the whole dating thing. It is better if both of them try to take it slow.
I had a hard time trying to like the idea of these two together, but as the story goes on, I slowly warm up to the idea of them getting together romantically. They do fit together because of who they are as a person, and that their personality matched. I was still hurting from the whole Ena and Cal thing, and how she rejected him. I do feel bad for Cal but later on not really. He was calling her bad names a day after she ended things with him which only made him look bad. And he was really pressuring her to marry him, which is just a no from me! I don’t like a guy pressuring a girl when it comes to love, marriage, and her future or basically pressuring her to make any decision. Let Ena make her own decision, she’s big enough to do so.
It was a relief that she doesn’t stay with Cal, I’m afraid if she decided to be with him, their relationship will become toxic one day. So it was better that she left and try to find love elsewhere. And she did, but I do hope that there will be a lot of development being made into her relationship with Liam. There should be a proper development so that their relationship will look much better and truly make sense. But as for the time being, I think it’s better for them to focus on themselves and helping others first.
Finn and Ena has the best friendship in the story. I adored every scene these two were in. All their scenes are straight up hilarious. I loved that Finn welcomes Ena so easily, and he always entertained her by giving her more information about the Black Bloods, the Guild soldiers and sorcerers, and most importantly, foods. Food is his main topic and even Ena always mention foods to him. She knew him so well even though they just met. Their friendship was so pure and wonderful, and I liked seeing how comfortable Ena was around Finn.
My most favorite moment was when they were pretending to be a couple, and he called her, ”my love,” that was so sweet. I don’t ship them, but I do love their friendship. They don’t catch feelings with each other, because they both know it wasn’t like that between them and their relationship is strictly platonic. Finn doesn’t make Ena feel trapped like Emmet and Liam do, and he knew that she’s confident enough to do things on her own. Finn is a good friend to Ena, and the way I see it, he’s the only one who truly understand her. I hope their friendship bond still remain strong, and I need them acting as a couple more because that was hilarious.
There are so many great things happening in this story. This book is an action-packed book and those who love reading fantasy stories with lots of great actions/fights like me, you’ll love this one for sure. This is a wonderful story, there are some happy moments and some sad moments but overall I feel so satisfied by the direction the author go for. I hope the next one will be just as great as this one and the previous one. Can’t wait to read more of this series, and I’m looking forward to the next installment. The story is excellent and very enjoyable, and this is easily my new favorite series.