#PinkReads – Book Review #030 : A Study Of Ash And Smoke by Yolandi Horak

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Synopsis

Cara should be the queen of Mordoux, but instead she must pretend to be a boy named Carl.

Her father hunts her, and will kill her if he finds her.

She’s trapped with him beneath the Mantle forcefield that isolates the kingdom of Aelland. The only way to elude him is to hide as a male physician’s apprentice, keeping her telltale royal hair covered beneath medical robes.

But when the enigmatic Nathan Cutter takes over her apprenticeship, her secrets could be exposed.

Nathan knows surgery, not deception, and certainly not the feelings he starts to develop for his new apprentice. Pulled into an ever tighter web of lies, he must decide how much he is willing to give up for a person he hardly knows.

While Cara’s father tries to manipulate the puppet queen he installed in Cara’s place, a terrible plague threatens to rot Aelland from the inside.

Can Cara and the other physicians find a cure? Or is the only solution the fall of the Mantle, and surrender to the emperor who’s claimed the rest of the Seven Kingdoms?

General Information

  • Genre : New Adult / Fantasy / Steampunk
  • eBook : 611 pages
  • ISBN : 9781999064
  • Publisher : Skolion
  • Author : Yolandi Horak

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Review

* SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT*

I received a free eBook copy directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I LOVED this book and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on book 2!!! Except that it hasn’t been written yet…

Click here to get your copy now!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t enthralled by the title, but the blurb was interesting enough – I put it aside for the time being because I had other review books to read… But when I saw how other people, people whose opinions I trust and respect, started raving about it, I had no choice but to bump it up on my TBR!

And I am so glad I did – I’m literally badgering the author to “hurry up and write, already!” (Lol, I’m only joking)

Yolandi is another newly discovered South African author for me who is not only a brilliant writer, but an amazing woman as well.

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Ms Horak’s writing style is a seamless blend of simplicity and elegance, beautifully weaving images in vivid clarity.

Her words paint harsh landscapes and beautiful vistas, sickening disease and loving moments, equally effortlessly.

You can tell, right from the very beginning, that the author has put a serious amount of research into her book; the medical terms and procedures come across as genuine and simple enough for most people to actually understand.

Despite the frigid, wet air, the woman’s tiny waist and arms were bare, while her petticoat and wide-legged pants accentuated her ample curves in ruby red, threaded with gold. She dripped sensuality, from the pout of plump lips to the slight pause of a hand at her collarbone before she brushed a strand of dark, wavy hair over her shoulder.

Her weapon was sex, and she wielded it with as much power as Varda held her axe.

The pacing of the story, as is the case of any High Fantasy, isn’t fast – it’s going to be a series, not a standalone – but neither is it slow enough for boredom to set in; the story unpacks at a decent rate, never loosing footing or timing.

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Just a bit of a warning here; you are going to love the main players with all your heart!

From sweet, innocent Clarabelle, a queen in her own right, parading as Carl and training to be a physician to “I’m a battering ram” Varda, independent, strong and sensitive.

Nathan will melt your heart, Pointy will annoy you the most while always being the voice of reason, and dear, damaged, no nonsense Nita, fighting for a better life, for everyone.

But the MCs are not the only well written characters in the book; Puck and Lance and Jerry and Ahmed – all beautiful souls.

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Ehrdia is a world at war, fighting for survival, fighting for freedom, besieged by the brutally, tyrannical The Salamander.

Most of the free world has been swallowed up the The Salamander and his underlings, except for Aelland which has hidden itself under The Mantle, a defensive dome like forcefield consisting of three concentric rings of lethal barriers, cutting itself off from the rest of the known world.

Yolandi has created a world populated by different nationalities and has drawn inspiration everywhere to create them; Varda’s people, for example, show a definite Viking influence and their War Bears are reminiscent of Pullman’s His Dark Materials.


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yolandiYolandi can often be found typing away at the computer or nibbling at the end of a paintbrush. When not writing or making art, she spends her time cuddling her daughter and husband, reading, fangirling, or gaming.

She resides in Calgary, Canada, but misses the milk tart and koeksisters she frequently ate in her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. She’s currently working on the sequel to her debut novel, A Study of Ash & Smoke.

Click here to read an interview with the author.

She has been a passionate blogger since the dawn of time, and updates her blog twice per week with art tutorials, her thoughts on writing, book reviews and experiences as an immigrant.


I’d love to know what you thought of this book once you’ve read it, so be sure to drop me line on any platform! Until next time…

Keep smiling

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