I’m a fan of Ari McKay, so I was already predisposed to grabbing their book anyway. BUT… let me just start by saying this – what astounding detail in both world-building and scene environs! I love a good fantasy novel, and when it is a half elf and a wolf shifter with this level of detail, there is no way to not to be intrigued.
Eli is the alpha of a pack in rural Georgia who returns from a mini vacation to find his pack either dead or missing. His pack may not have much financially, but they are a group of twenty five whom Eli feels privileged to care for.
Arden is a centuries-old progressive half elf on the supernatural council who is horrified by Eli’s story, even if the rest of the council doesn’t want to get involved. The resort owner catering to both humans and supernaturals knows that ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.
Set between both magickal forests and human areas, the narrative walks through the disappearance of Eli’s pack and the shocking (to Eli) pairing when Eli realizes Arden is his mate, and he’s not a shifter. There are lots of twists and turns, plots and subplots, and mystery and intrigue around every corner in this book.
The peripheral cast is vast, but the outstanding players are Arden’s best friend Whimsy, a mage, their friend/lover Julian Schaden, a vampire, and Tharn, Eli’s old friend and mentor, who is the alpha of the pack closest to Asheville. Each is engaging separately; combined, they are a wonderful addition to the world-building, providing comedic relief, steadfast loyalty, and excellent dialogue.
Character growth is vast, not only with Eli and Arden, but also with the shifting interrelations of the MCs with the peripheral cast. It is easy to see more coming, and I am looking forward to learning more about these fascinating characters.
The attraction between Eli and Arden seemed rather mild through the first half of the book – right up until the passion exploded. After that (and there isn’t even a steamy sexy times scene at that point!), it was abundantly clear that they both wanted nothing more than to solve the mystery of Eli’s pack and descend into absolute hedonism.
The conclusion put paid to the concerns the mates had regarding their long distance living, a standing controversy through most of the book, and in a lovely way. I was left smiling, heart full, and canting my head a little wondering who will be next.
I’m rating this at 4.5 stars. Out of the Ashes is another success for author duo Ari McKay. I eagerly anticipate the next book in this new series!