{Review} AIR AND ASH by Alex Lidell

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  AT I FALL TO MY KNEES as His Ashing Majesty's Ship Faithful's mainmast breaks in two and crashes to the deck. The fallen sails drag through the waves, and smoke from the great guns fills the air with a blinding fog. I cough and wave the thick metallic air away from my face.
  Captain Fey gives me a tight smile. Of average height and a solid, slightly pudgy build, the captain stands tall on the quarterdeck, his hands on his hips. His dark, intelligent eyes, speckled with a bit of silver like his hair, take in the carnage around us with preternatural calm. "I believe we have one last broadside for the Tirik Republic in us. Don't you agree, Ms. Greysik?" 
  One last broadside. The words hit me in the gut as surely as enemy shot. In the nine years I've served under Fey, from the eight-year-old-girl in a midshipman's uniform who'd walked wide-eyed onto his deck to the lieutenant I am today, I've never heard him utter such a thing. An admission of the coming end.

(pg. 8, US e-ARC edition)

I am crazy excited to talk about one of today's brand new releases with you! AIR AND ASH is Alex Lidell's second published book. When I found out that she was publishing a new book, I was REALLY excited. In 2012, I helped reveal the cover of her debut novel, THE CADET OF TILDOR, and was on her Street Team. In early 2013, the book debuted and I reviewed it. While that book stands alone, it could easily have become a series and I wish there were more books. It reminded me of two of my favorite series, The Song of the Lioness (aka the "Alanna" series) and the Protector of the Small  (aka the "Kel" series), both by Tamora Pierce, and I wanted more, more, more. (Sadly, CADET is now Out of Print, so if you manage to find a copy, snag it!!! Though I do believe it's still available via e-book...!)

When I found out that after four years of waiting for something, anything by Lidell, she was coming out with a BRAND NEW series set in a BRAND NEW world? I was SO READY to dive in!!!

And let me tell you, it was worth the wait!!!

The series centers around Princess Nile Greysik--but before you go, "Ugh, a princess book", rest assured, it's not like that AT ALL. Nile is as unprincesslike as a princess could possibly be. She's not even the heir to the throne and so, she is expendable. Royalty is expected to serve the crown, and Nile has been at sea since she was eight years old. She's now Second Officer on the Faithful, her country's most prestigious warship...until a dangerous mission destroys everything she's worked so hard to obtain. Now stripped of her title, injured, and ill, Nile finds herself back home...and discovers a plot to marry her off to a neighboring kingdom. No longer deemed necessary in anything other than making a political match, Nile leaves home in disguise and joins a ragtag ship that's vastly inferior to the one she used to call home. Not only that, but on the voyage, she discovers that she's Gifted--which is more of a curse than a blessing. The Gifted have various elemental abilities, but those same Gifts destroy them. Nile's affinity is to air, which means she can convulse or have the air stripped from her very lungs at any time. The Gift is likelier to kill her than to save her, and nobody has ever mastered it. With her secrets mounting, Nile finds it more difficult than ever to fit in on her new vessel and make a name--and life--for herself.

You guys all know how much I love books that have elemental magic in them. AIR AND ASH is intriguing because the magic is something to fear because it can destroy you so easily. Nile's twin brother completely lost his mind after developing an affinity to metal, and Nile's own newfound affinity to air is slowly killing her. She convulses and gets sick when least wanted, and is deemed a newbie still prone to seasickness, which helps undercut the way people see her. But she can't tell anyone what's going on or else she'll be kicked off the ship and sent back home. I'm really interested to see how this elemental system is developed over the course of the series!

I also like how Lidell gives us just a little bit of romance, just enough. Because, of course, the book isn't centered around romance and has no place, especially in a world where admirals aren't able to have relationships with those who serve them. But it's a very slow burn, and just enough, though I can't wait to see more of it in future books!!! I like the dynamics, too, because Nile doesn't even know what she's feeling, and Domenic isn't the most swoonworthy man to fall for. But it works, and I can't wait to see this relationship build!

I definitely wasn't ready to stop reading when I hit the last page especially because, eep, the way things are left off!!! Thankfully, it's not a vicious cliffhanger to fear, but it will definitely leave readers wanting to continue on and see what happens next!

AIR AND ASH releases TODAY, so add it to your TBR now, and let's help the book rise up the charts upon its release so that more readers can hear about this captivating fantasy author! ^.~

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing )
Language: PG ( I saw a couple of "damns" and "bastards," but that was about it! )
Violence: PG ( It's a warship, so there are a couple of cannon fire exchanges, but nothing graphic is shown. )
Other:  PG ( A couple of lewd comments about how Nile can best serve her kingdom in the bedroom and that women can be unscrupulous and that there are steep repercussions if anyone is attacked inappropriately while working onboard the ship, but nothing explicit. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I like the font, especially the swoop of the As! And I also like the divider that portrays the series. The balance is perfect. I also like the image itself, even though I don't see Nile in skirts in my head, and think it showcases that this is a seafaring adventure--and a dangerous one, too! It might have been cool to have a hint of magic somewhere, maybe some "pixie dust" on the waves or around the title, to hint at the fantasy of it all!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Alex Lidell
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Danger Bearing Press
Received: For Review


Master and Commander meets Tamora Pierce in a seafaring adventure of duty, love, magic, and a princess’s quest to protect her kingdom on her own terms. 

After a lifetime of training, seventeen-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission—and fails. 

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battleworthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over. 

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future. 

AIR AND ASH is the thrilling first installment of the TIDES series. Recommended for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Tamora Pierce, and Naomi Novik.