Building from Ashes by Elizabeth Hunter: Review

Building from Ashes

Synopsis from Goodreads:  For a thousand years, powerful earth vampire Carwyn ap Bryn has served others. God. His family. His friends. But tragedy and loss disrupt his peaceful existence, causing him to question everything he has committed his eternity to.
Brigid Connor has known about vampires since they rescued her from a painful childhood. But not even their vast elemental power can save her from the demons that torment her.
As loyalties are tested and new paths are forged, a lurking danger slowly grows in the Elemental World. Carwyn and Brigid will learn that even secrets revealed can come back to haunt you when you least expect it.
A continuation/spinoff of the Elemental Mysteries series.  The timeline in this books stretches from BEFORE A Hidden Fire starts (so you see a little character history) until AFTER A Fall of Water finishes. As I’m sure lots of you could tell, Carwyn had quite a few things going on in his life that didn’t make it into Gio and Beatrice’s story. So Building From Ashes explores that storyline and also sets up the Elemental World for some new adventures…

Source: ARC from author for a fair and honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: I am officially out of adjectives to describe exactly how much I love Elizabeth Hunter and the Elemental Mysteries world she has so beautifully crafted!  Building from Ashes is Carwyn’s story and is a stand-alone companion to the Elemental Mysteries series.  As always I find myself unable to assign anything other than 5 stars to this excellently written novel.

Carwyn is a one thousand year old vampire who is the leader of his large clan, a lover of loud and ridiculous Hawaiian shirts and professional wrestling and, a Catholic priest (yes, the Vatican knows about his fangy bits!) who has always placed his love of God, church, and family above his own needs and desires.  To the world Carwyn is always the life of the party telling jokes and pulling pranks and appearing to genuinely enjoy his long life.  Underneath the jovial exterior is the more private Carwyn, a passionate man of faith and devotion; a cunning, strong, and deadly fighter who will protect those he calls his own no matter the cost.  Though many in the immortal community know and respect Carwyn they also often underestimate him and the lengths he will go to protect those he loves and holds dear.  That never goes well J

Brigid is a fiercely tough, highly intelligent, independent yet loyal human who has been under the aegis of Ioan and Deirdre (Carwyn’s “children”) since she was forcibly removed from her abusive household as a small child.  Brigid’s life has undoubtedly been hard, even near-unbearable at times but she has never wanted nor accepted anyone’s pity.  Throughout her life and with the unwavering support of her family, Brigid has worked tirelessly to overcome any and all obstacles blocking her path to true independence and success.  Though not a vampire, Brigid makes a name for herself as head of security to the leader of Dublin’s immortal community.  For the most part, Brigid has the life she has always dreamed of until all hell breaks loose, Ioan is killed, and new drug for immortals begins to invade Brigid and her family’s life.

It is clear from the beginning Carwyn and Brigid are meant to be together; they are yet another perfectly matched and balanced pair created by Hunter to populate the Elemental Mysteries world.  For me, this type of harmonious balance found between two characters is one of Hunter’s greatest strengths as an author.  Brigid is human, Carwyn is immortal; Carwyn is a priest, Brigid a devout Catholic not likely to sleep with a priest; Brigid is a young twenty-something, Carwyn is 1,000ish; Brigid is broken in some very fundamental ways; Carwyn is patient, kind, caring, and willing to wait.  Both are stubborn but in the end, they are so worth the wait!

In many instances throughout the novel, Brigid and Carwyn are kept apart or thrown together because of developments in the plot rather than by their own choice.  This is a two-for-one special, dear reader.  While the plot is developing and unfolding so is the struggle toward a relationship between Carwyn and Brigid; the plot and major characters are so intimately tied to one another you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.  BRILLIANT!!  This symbiotic relationship between the plot and her people creates such a smooth and enjoyable read you don’t realize how much and how far you have read until it’s too late and the story has come to an end.  Again I feel compelled to point how BRILLIANT this is!!

The bottom line: I LOVE THIS BOOK!!  Hunter’s writing style is so smooth and easy you don’t even notice how quickly she pulls you into her world.  Both the plot and characters are fully developed and real as well as being engaging and interesting.  As a reader, you can absolutely connect to these characters and their story and I was pretty much hooked from the very first page.  While Building from Ashes is meant to be a stand-alone companion to the Elemental Mysteries series (and it certainly can be read as such) I would highly, highly recommend reading the four Elemental Mysteries books beforehand.  Ashes follows the general time line and plot of the four previous books and absolutely enhanced and enriched my reading experience where Building from Ashes is concerned.  Absolutely and without doubt a top-notch read!

What I hope is going to happen:  It is clear Elizabeth Hunter is in no way done with the Elemental Mysteries world.  (The crowd rejoices in a loud and inappropriate manner!!)  Here’s what I foresee and hope for where the suture of this series is concerned:

1)   Ben and Tenzin aren’t done causing trouble and will be back better than ever in a future novel – their own novel????

2)   With the death of Ioan, Deirdre is going to take on a larger role within the clan and eventually find a new mate.  Deirdre is such a large presence I truly don’t think her story is done just yet.  Please don’t be done yet.

3)   Carwyn and his clan along with B and Gio and their clan are going to come together to put the smack down on the as yet unnamed dealer/creator of Elixir

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