Review of Branded by Ana J. Phoenix

Branded (Ash and Flames, #1)Branded by Ana J. Phoenix

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Asher faints in the middle of an argument with his mother and wakes up in a parallel world, torn by civil war. He teams up with a fire elf named Jose’ to try and find his way back home, whilst trying to avoid the dangers that lurks everywhere in this other world.

This is a difficult book for me to review. the first 50-60% of it was only a 2 star read to me. I severely disliked Asher and wouldn’t actually have minded it too much if he had come to an unfortunate end. Yeah, ok, life dealt you a rough hand, no reason to be a complete and utter shithead! Grow up for god’s sake! Jose was just too bland for me to really care about and I felt the world building lacking and too abrupt for me to follow or be interested in…

However, around the halfway mark I actually got interested in where their journey was leading them and by around the 70% mark I was starting to kind of engage with the characters. By the time the book ended I was invested and I am going to have to read the sequel – I hope it takes place mainly in the human world though.

Beware that this book ends on kind of a cliffhanger. One storyarc does end, but with no real conclusion and quite a few loose ends, but the other big story arc – the relationship between Archer and Jose – does not. So if cliff hangers are not your cup of tea, you may wish to hold back and wait for the sequel to come out later this year.

I end up giving this 3 stars, based on the fact that the first half was 2 stars and the second half a 4 star read. The author has a very nice voice and I enjoyed the prose, I just really didn’t engage with the characters or the world in the first part of the book, but I did enjoy the second half and I will be reading the sequel.

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