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    REVIEW: Igni Ferroque by Ashlyn Drewek

    Tennebrose: Igni Ferroque – Ashlyn Drewek

    Despite being branded as an outcast amongst outcasts, Phelan Oliver devotes his life to helping his fellow Necromancers. But even with his vast knowledge, nothing prepares him for the day he comes face to face with a demon he didn’t summon—one who embodies everything he has been taught to hate, whose wickedness sparks sinful feelings Phelan can’t ignore no matter how much he tries.

    Taken captive by a prince of Hell, Phelan strikes a desperate bargain. In exchange for his soul’s freedom, he’ll give his captor what he wants, even if it means betraying his own family.

    But demons aren’t the only ones with secrets and Phelan’s might end up costing them both more than they’d ever imagined. 

    IGNI FERROQUE is a dark MM paranormal romance about a pious Necromancer and an incorrigible demon and what happens when their paths intersect. There’s scorching steam and brutal violence in this enemies-to-lovers tale, wrapped up with plenty of intrigue and betrayal. It is intended for a mature audience and reader discretion is advised. A full list of triggers can be found in the front matter of the book and at my website under Tropes & Triggers. 

    This book can be read as a standalone, but it is highly suggested to read the series in order, as the history of Winslow and its witches builds on itself with each book. 

    Igni Ferroque is a book that comes with a long list of trigger warnings: non-con, dub-con, blood play, torture, mental illness, occult practices, mentions of animal and human sacrifices, controversial commentary on religion, particularly Catholicism, and more listed in the book.

    Author Ashlyn Drewek excels at darkly delicious enemies-to-lovers romances and pulled no punches in this sequel to Malum Discordae, Book 1 of Tennebrose. I definitely enjoyed this book more than its predecessor.

    Tennebrose is a secretly magical university in Winslow, where witches trace their family histories to the past 400 years. The university is where their sons and daughters study among unaware non-magical students.

    Phelan Oliver is a necromancer from a renowned family of necromancers currently working as a research librarian at the university. The necromancers of Winslow have been systematically summoning demons listed in the Book of Lazarus, only to kill them once they appear. Phelan is one of those involved in the rituals, though his powers barely exist.

    The fun started when Demon Prince Remiel spotted him and took a liking to the necromancer. After stalking Phelan for a while, only to find out how blah the man’s life is, he whisked the necromancer to his domain in hell and had his wicked way with him.

    On her website, the author admitts that writing the non-con parts was difficult.

    “Given all the other horrible things Remiel does, why should that one thing stop him? So even though I knew some readers would hate me for it, I left my human morality at the door and wrote my demon prince as authentically as I could. Did I say it was ok? No. Does Phelan say it’s ok? No. In fact, he brings it up to Remiel on two different occasions to let him know he hasn’t forgotten. But Phelan (and I) also realized Remiel would never apologize for something he didn’t feel bad about because he doesn’t see right/wrong the same way we do. “

    And yes, Remiel is the best character here. Sardonic and sauve, he was always true to his demon nature. He was both the dastardly villain and the charming prince sweeping our boy off his feet. He resorts to torture and seduction to weaken Phelan’s resolve, he could be so amoral and cold in some situations, then be a source of comfort and subtle but heartfelt affection.

    And always, Phelan’s most fiercest protector.

    Complicated he may be, there are no doubts about his deep, unspoken feelings for the necromancer. The tender feather caresses were my favorite!

    Phelan, on the other hand, behaves as most ultra-religious MCs I’ve read. This is a man who lives like a 14th-century monk, denying himself pleasure, remaining completely celibate throughout his 30 years, and even whipping himself with those nasty whips used by flagellates.

    Initially, he proved quite resistant to Remiel’s methods of seduction because our boy is nothing if not stubborn. He even outwitted the demon prince once. At times, I wasn’t impressed with his actions and reactions, always with the woes, the blame, or begging for punishment from God because he was in complete denial of who he is

    Phelan shines best when he’s going toe to toe with demons. Our boy can be quite ballsy and surprisingly wily, outwitting yet another demon prince to save his demon prince. The necromancer even challenged the king of hell in a gutsy move that completely won me over.

    This is a long book about the ever-evolving and hella nuclear relationship between Remiel and Phelan. The sexual tension burns like the flames of hell, leaving our virgin hero scorched, conflicted, and then later, became Remiel’s most feral savior. The evolution of their romance was well-paced, convincing, and deliciously satisfying!

    Interwoven with the romance are fascinating twisty-turny threads of family secrets, dark pasts, demon wars, town conspiracies, deadly grimoires, and powerful arcane relics bestowed by God himself. Tennebrose lore was already rich and here it brought the series to another level!

    There are minor hiccups, things the editor might have missed. Like how one body part was able to reach a certain body part when they were already in a certain position. Or a couple of reactions that seemed confusing or out of character.

    Also, just a heads up if you are sensitive about religion, the story might appear to have a grim view of Catholicism and religion as a whole. This is usually voiced through Remiel, who continuously challenges Phelan to be honest with himself and embrace his true nature.

    But, however tumultuous and dark the journey is for Phelan, in the end, it’s all in God’s plan. And it was the most bombastic, genius coup de etat + coup de gras + literal deus ex machina climax, I could only shake my head in amazement!

    It turned Phelan’s world upside down and inside out, and just like that, he found his place in the grand scheme of things. I could imagine the Almighty giving Phelan and Remiel a big, cheeky wink across the cosmos.

    Igni Ferroque is a potent brew of occult and romance told with the skill of a born storyteller. Overall, unapologetically dark and incendiary!

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Sanctify
    Artist: Olly Alexander (Years & Years)
    Album: Sanctify


    Tennebrose books can be read as standalones but get to know the discordant town of Winslow in Malum Discordiae.

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    REVIEW: Malum Discordiae by Ashlyn Drewek

    Tennebrose: Malum Discordiae – Ashlyn Drewek

    After Cassius Corbin’s mother was murdered by fellow witches, he learned an invaluable lesson: death comes for us all—even Necromancers. Six years later, enrolling at Tennebrose University with vengeance on his mind, the last thing he expects is to come face to face with Graeme Hewitt, the son of his mother’s killer. As much as Cassius tries to avoid the naive weather witch, fate has other plans.

    In spite of their families’ ongoing feud, they’re forced to work together if they have any hope of passing their required class. But as late nights and stolen moments turn to something more, a rash of demonic murders plagues the university. If they don’t get to the bottom of it, they could both be next.
    MALUM DISCORDIAE is a dark academia, paranormal MM romance about witches, Necromancers, and a blood feud that has lasted centuries. It features plenty of steam, a lot of snark, and the pile of bodies you’d expect in a magical Romeo + Juliet retelling—except this one has a happy ending. It is intended for a mature audience and reader discretion is advised. A full list of triggers can be found in the front matter of the book and at my website under Tropes & Triggers.

    If there’s one MF romance writer whose shift to MM made me so happy, it’s Ashlyn Drewek. She blew me away with the devastating Stockholm Syndrome romance, The Solnyshko Duet, and I also loved her Beauty and the Beast retelling, Wither. Her stories are typically dark and come with a chockful of trigger warnings.

    Malum Discordiae is the opener of the dark academia paranormal series Tennebrose. This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling but with witches and magic revolving around the secretly magical Tennebrose University. The town and the school are a mix of unaware humans, certain people in the know, and old witch families.

    The story centers around the centuries-old feud between the Corbins and the Hewitts. The Hewitts are nature witches, considered the good ones. The Corbins are necromancers, mostly shunned and reviled because of their dark magic. The rest of the old families fall between light, dark, and neutral.

    Cassius Corbin and Graeme Hewitt considered themselves sworn enemies, until they were forced by their botany professor and plant witch, Ainsworth, to work together on the semester’s project to grow the mythical poison apple tree. It was one tumultuous getting-to-know-you scene after another, where they cycle through hate, lust, generations-old biases, and grudging clarifications.

    Hands down, our boy to die for here is Cassius! Sporting gothic villain good looks, he’s snarky and standoffish, with a big heart hurt too often. A necromancer and a blood witch, his spells frequently involved disturbing methods (skulls on display, tasting blood, talking to ghosts), and he knows full well the stigma against dark witches of his kind.

    Still, Cash went out on a limb for Graeme several times, trying to help him open his eyes. He explained what necromancy really is and why the spells are like that, aware that the cost is revealing family secrets that could easily be used against the Corbins and other necromancers.

    Graeme is why I didn’t give this book 5-stars. Touted as the next deacon of their witch congregation, he’s a powerful weather witch but spectacularly ignorant of his legacy and magic. Seriously, this witch didn’t even know what his family herald looks like. I could forgive this part because he can learn that in Tennebrose.

    But Graeme would listen to Cash explain something, then quick as a flash, turn against Cash because of age-old bigotry compounded by his ignorance. He broke Cash’s trust, and I’m not even sure he made up for the hurts.

    It might sound contradictory, but I do love Graeme and Cash together. Their chemistry is off the charts! The hatesex was sizzling! The push/pull was exciting!

    When Graeme wasn’t being an idiot, you can tell he’s crazy about the snarky necromancer. Usually brass and self-assured, he lets Cash see his vulnerable side. He does acknowledge his lack of training and genuinely tried to learn from Cash, so yeah, not so bad. His magic is supercool, too!

    The supporting cast was great, many of them memorable. Aside from the botany professor Ainsworth, the Corbins, dad Caius and sister, Claudia, surprised Graeme. Meanwhile his parents, Maryann and George, had some secrets of their own. The congregation is lead by the deacon and the selectmen, who arbitrate and record events. The rest of Cash’s and Graeme’s relatives and friends stand in for the Capulets’ and Montagues’ allies.

    Flawed characters aside, the plot hooked me in immediately and kept me riveted for hours. It would have been a one-sitter if not for the need to sleep. It’s a spectacular retelling, with enough familiar elements and not too on the nose. It’s filled with just the right amount of details to establish the setting and the magic system without resorting to info-dumps.

    There’s also several murders, demons lurking, lost grimoires, and centuries of family history to unpack. And with the lovely gothic vibe that speaks to my grim self, this is a well-conceived fictional world I’d love to be in!

    Malum Discordiae is a Shakespearean tale full of heartbreak, revelations, family woes, and a pair of star-crossed lovers who dealt with life and death. All in all, a dark witchy delight!

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Tethered to the Dark
    Artist: Anya Marina

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