Wounds of Ash

Book One of the Vendi Chronicles

Romance - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
414 Pages
Reviewed on 02/15/2024
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Author Biography

KL Hester was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. Surrounded by the beautiful Utah mountains, her imagination was allowed to run wild. When she isn't reading or writing, she can be found playing board games with family, or RPG with her husband and friends.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Wounds of Ash is a work of fiction in the romance, fantasy, adventure, and suspense subgenres, and is the opening book of the Vendi Chronicles. It is best suited to mature readers owing to themes of violence, sexual assault, torture, and more. Penned by author K.L. Hester, this gripping novel plunges readers into a world of magic, revenge, and ancient powers. In the capital of Myral, Ringard, the magical Ringada has been attacked, prompting Josen and his best friend to embark on a quest for vengeance against those responsible. Fuelled by rage over the murder of his wife during the assault, Josen's determination knows no bounds. Meanwhile, Aliyah, a Myralian with untapped magical abilities, finds herself sold to a Gralanthian nobleman, where she discovers the dangers of magic firsthand. As their paths converge, Aliyah and Josen must join forces to confront mythical monsters and unravel the mysteries surrounding the awakening of ancient powers seeking revenge.

Author K.L. Hester's imaginative storytelling and intricate world-building kept me engaged from the first page to the last, crafting an immersive reading experience that transported me to a richly imagined fantasy world. The characters, particularly Josen and Aliyah, were compelling and multifaceted, each driven by their own motivations and haunted by their pasts. I really enjoyed the narrative approach and unique flavor to their dialogue, presenting two interesting personalities with strong attitudes shaped by their harrowing life experiences, who come together with such dynamism and intensity. The novel's blend of action, mystery, and magic created a sense of urgency that kept me eagerly turning the pages, eager to uncover the secrets hidden within the story. The pacing was done well to deliver tension and action in equal measure but never leave readers bored. Overall, Wounds of Ash is a must-read for fans of epic fantasy who want darker, more intense experiences for their characters to endure, and more emotive developments and surprises as a result.

Tracy Traynor

Wounds of Ash by K.L. Hester is book 1 of the Vendi Chronicles. Courageous Aliyah is raised by her punishment-meting aunt and then sold to the nefarious Sir Caldryk who takes her torture to a new level. With each cut, Caldryk takes Aliyah’s magic. Josen, with his true friend Kaino, has been tracking the killer of his wife for a year; each day draws them closer to The Executioner. However, when they finally catch up to Driel’s horse, they find not a barbaric man who slaughters all in his wake but a young woman being attacked by white-eyed creatures called grarg. Two broken souls are drawn together, but love is hindered by the determined pursuers who are intent on delivering Aliyah to their master—a long-dead Wyvanni.

Wounds of Ash by K.L. Hester is a gripping thriller of a fantasy. With magic users intent on wielding it for evil, huge creatures thought extinct, and antagonists that cause nightmares, this is a dark and haunting story. But Aliyah and Josen’s slow-burn romance, their hurts and hopes make this a completely unputdownable read. The character building of the two main protagonists is what kept me turning the pages and sets Hester apart as a skilled writer. I was hooked on their storylines, willed them to succeed, hoped they would fall in love, gasped near the ending, and can’t wait to read book two! This character-driven fantasy is harrowing, romantic, full of fate, magic, and hope. Wounds of Ash is deeply engaging with a riveting plot, rich world-building, and unforgettable characters.

Divine Zape

Wounds of Ash is the first book in KL Hester's Vendi Chronicles, an enthralling blend of fantasy, romance, and adventure set in a richly imagined world filled with magic, intrigue, and danger. Josen loses his wife in an attack on Ringard, the capital of Myral. His father has also gone missing, so he sets out to find his father and avenge the death of his wife. Accompanied by his friend, Kaino, Josen follows a treacherous path that eventually leads to a chance encounter with Aliyah, a Myralian with mysterious powers. Aliyah has been a captive in Caldryk Manor, a place where she doesn’t belong. When she finally escapes from the imposing Sir Caldryk, the meeting with Josen sets them on a journey that will force them to confront ancient powers that seek not only to destroy them but also Myral and Gralanth. Can they survive the onslaught of enemies and save their worlds from destruction?

Wounds of Ash has a stunningly imagined setting and intriguing characters. The story is told from the perspectives of Aliyah and Josen and the author uses this style to build suspense. The inner worlds of the characters are intelligently explored. Josen’s grief slowly cedes place to an unquenchable hunger for revenge while Aliyah discovers her abilities as she confronts new challenges. The bond between these characters stands out. The setting is rich, a world filled with magic, and it takes a unique place in the narrative, affecting the characters in mysterious ways. For instance, Aliyah discovers that she is a Wyvanni, a magical being. Sir. Caldryk is a dangerous manipulator and readers will see him as a monster. Wounds of Ash features gorgeous writing; the prose is descriptive and the dialogues are intelligently crafted. KL Hester has penned an engaging opening for the Vendi Chronicles that makes me want to read more in the series.