The Ashes and the Star Cursed King book review

Last updated on February 1st, 2024 at 11:36 am

The Ashes and the Star Cursed King book review

Entering the final installment of the Nightborn Duology, The Ashes and the Star Cursed King, I was genuinely excited. Though I found the book enjoyable, it didn’t quite match up to the first instalment, The Serpent and the Wings of Night. The pacing, repeated scenarios, and some storylines left me with mixed feelings.

The story picks up right where the first book left off, amidst the aftermath of the Kejari. Vincent is gone, Oraya’s feeling lost and betrayed, Raihn grapples with the weight of becoming a King while surrounded by adversaries. They’re both battling their inner demons, coming to terms with their identities, and learning to harness the newfound power that comes with the Heir mark.

While the first book focused on the tournament and building trust, The Ashes and the Star Cursed King takes a deep dive into personal growth and the journey of mending Oraya and Raihn’s strained relationship (yes, some familiar scenarios do crop up). Read on to discover what I found enthralling about this story, my thoughts on the characters, and what’s on the horizon for Carissa Broadbent’s Crowns of Nyaxia series.

Book rating & bio

Three Star Rating/5

The Ashes and the Star Cursed King by Carissa Broadbent

Title: The Ashes and the Star Cursed King.
Author: Carissa Broadbent.
Genre: Fantasy Romance, Vampires, Adult.
My Score: 3/5
Good Reads score: 4.20/5. Visit The Ashes and the Star Cursed King in Good Reads.
Publisher: Carissa Broadbent
Format: Paperback
Pages: 600
Buy on: Amazon | Amazon – Kindle edition.

Love is a sacrifice at the altar of power.

In the wake of the Kejari, everything Oraya once thought to be true has been destroyed. A prisoner in her own kingdom, grieving the only family she ever had, and reeling from a gutting betrayal, she no longer even knows the truth of her own blood. She’s left only with one certainty: she cannot trust anyone, least of all Raihn.

The House of Night, too, is surrounded by enemies. Raihn’s own nobles are none too eager to accept a Turned king, especially one who was once a slave. And the House of Blood digs their claws into the kingdom, threatening to tear it apart from the inside.

When Raihn offers Oraya a secret alliance, taking the deal is her only chance at reclaiming her kingdom – and gaining her vengeance against the lover who betrayed her. But to do so, she’ll need to harness a devastating ancient power, intertwined with her father’s greatest secrets.

But with enemies closing in on all sides, nothing is as it seems. As she unravels her past and faces her future, Oraya finds herself forced to choose between the bloody reality of seizing power – and the devastating love that could be her downfall.

Content warning: Graphic violence, violence against children, discussion of sexual assault and rape and slavery. Explicit sexual content. 
Spoilers: This review is mostly spoiler-free. I’ve placed all spoilers within an accordion, leaving the choice to you if you fancy reading them.
Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through those links.

Thoughts on plot and pacing

“I was the Heir of the House of Night, and I was the daughter of Vincent the Nightborn King, and I was every bit as powerful as both those things suggested.”

This book finally provided answers to some of the lingering questions from the first book. I really enjoyed delving into Oraya’s and Raihn’s pasts, which gave us a deeper understanding of their characters. The revelation about Vincent, who turned out to be Oraya’s biological father, was something I’d been looking forward to learning about. Vincents past added a lot of emotional depth, especially for Oraya as she came to terms with her father’s legacy and her mother and fathers relationship.

“Maybe I wasn’t any better than Neculai, or Vincent, or Simon after all. Maybe I was just another cursed king. Because I fucking loved it.”

In addition to Oraya and Vincent’s perspectives, we also got a look at things from Raihn’s point of view. Having a male perspective added an extra layer of excitement and chemistry to the spicy and flirtatious scenes. There’s something about the male POV that makes me go wild! 

“He kissed me like he was starving. Kissed me the way he had fed from me in a cave once, many months ago—desperate and deep and full of hunger, like I was the only thing tethering him to the world.”

The tension and romance were well done, but sometimes the build-up was even more thrilling than the big moments, like that wing scene… While the level of romance was on par with the first book, the action sequences in this one didn’t quite measure up. Maybe it was the writing style, but I found myself more invested and on edge while reading The Serpent and the Wings of Night. That’s not to say that all fight and action scenes weren’t good. There were moments that were very gripping, intense and showcased how badass Oraya is.

The world-building was just what we needed. Carissa Broadbent expanded the world of Nyaxia just enough, leaving us eager for more. We got to explore different kingdoms and houses, like the House of Blood and House of Shadow, which set the stage nicely for the next duology.

As I read, I couldn’t help but notice scenarios that felt very similar to those in the first book, especially the big fight at the end. It made me wonder how many chances one character could have (spoiler alert in the accordion).

The parallels between Raihn’s fate and Oraya’s deal with the god, and the events in ‘The Serpent and the Wings of Night,’ including Raihn’s repeated deaths, felt a bit like a familiar trope and less suspenseful. It seemed pretty likely that Raihn would somehow survive, and this predictability didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat.

The pacing of the major battle and Vincent’s storyline felt a bit slow and disjointed at times. I found it hard to get into it and ended up rereading some pages. However, Oraya and Raihn’s character development and their storylines were beautifully written and paced. I really love their connection and the way they understand each other.

Thoughts on characters

Oraya and Raihn are fantastic characters. Oraya’s strength and combat skills make her a standout. But it’s when Raihn partners up with her that I love them even more. They truly make an iconic duo.

The supporting characters were also well-crafted. If you haven’t read Six Scorched Rose, Lilith and Vale will be new to you, and I believe they added a lot to the book, even with their limited appearances. If you need some persuasion to pick up the book, check out my blog post on whether you should read Six Scorched Roses in the Crowns of Nyaxia series. In my opinion, that book was even better than this one!

Mishe played a central role, much like in the first book. However, this time, we finally get answers to the questions that lingered from book one. She remains a crucial character throughout the Nightborn Duology, offering unwavering support to Oraya and Raihn, and receiving it in return.

In case you didn’t know, The Ashes and the Star Cursed King wraps up the Nightborn Duology. By the end of this book, you’ll discover which house, whether it’s the House of Blood or the House of Shadow, will take center stage in the next book and who the main character will be.

If you’re anything like me and feeling a tad disappointed about not exploring the House of Night further, don’t worry. Broadbent has reassured us that characters from this house will continue to make appearances in the Crowns of Nyaxia series.

I’m eagerly looking forward to the next installment and the beginning of the next duology!

Final thoughts

In sum, this was a solid book. However, it falls slightly below my top picks, The Serpent and the Wings of Night and Six Scorched Roses, which is why I’m giving it a rating just under 4/5. While the tension and action scenes didn’t quite have the same grip, the emotional depth, character growth, and world-building still make it an impressive read. This book immerses you in a captivating vampiric world that’s hard not to appreciate. If The Ashes and the Star Cursed Kind sounds like your kind of read, why not buy it on Amazon today!

Happy reading!

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*MCs = Main characters, FMC = Female main character, POV = Point of view.

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