Title: From the Ashes (Fires of Redemption #1)
Author: Xen Sanders
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: 2nd Jan, 2017
Genre(s): Romance, Crime, Fantasy
Page Count : 350
Reviewed by: PIU
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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?
“From the Ashes” is the second mutant/genetically enhanced individual trope that I read this year and I was very impressed with how the author delves into the gray areas rather than sticking to the black and white. This book is dark and quite intense especially when one of the MCs is actually the villain. It was action-packed, emotional, and intense with a very redeeming and powerful romance developing in the midst.
Tobias Rutherford a.k.a Spark is an aberrant, an individual with superhuman ability to generate electricity. His father is a megalomaniac who has destroyed many countries and killed millions of people on his mission to save the aberrants, genetically advanced individuals who are born that way. Spark is his right hand man and has helped him in his mad dash to suppress humans and establish his aberrant empire, Xinth. At present, Tobias is in undercover as a student in the UC Berkley, trying to foil researches about “cure for aberrant”.
Sean Archer is Tobias’s ethics professor to whom he is very much attracted to. One night a random meeting between the two starts an affair that goes far beyond the scope of “casual sex”. Tobias falls in love with Sean while his father plans to topple America. Tobias has to don his persona as Spark and do his father’s bidding because it is his duty. But he is not sure anymore if he is the “villain”, he has always considered himself as or the “victim” of his father’s brainwashing.
Tobias was a very complicated character who had a lot of demons. He was conflicted about his actions and about his humanity. He never knew anything different than what he had been always told that he is doing the right thing for a righteous cause, so when Sean confronts him about his views, Tobias flounders to accept that he has the capacity to do the right thing despite his genetics.
Tobias was a villain because he was never given a choice, never shown that there can be a different way which did not involve bloodshed. Despite him being a mass-murderer, I sympathized with him. Sean brings light into his life and I was proud of him to finally decide to be a hero rather than a villain at the end.
The twist in the plot is predictable but still managed to impress with the charged confrontation involving cool powers and going totally “X-MEN” on me. Sean and Tobias’s views were different all along but it was put in the front and center with some fantastic action and intense emotions at the end.
There is still a whole lot which was felt unresolved at the end. I cannot believe that Tobias’s father will accept his decisions so easily. So my guess would be that there is a big battle coming between humans and aberrants with Sean and Tobias trying to change the outlook of humans and aberrants alike. I will definitely look forward to the next book in this series.