Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Book Brief: From The Ashes by Xen Sanders


Title: From The Ashes

Author: Xen Sanders

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Release: 2nd January 2017

Genre: M/M (fantasy)


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Sociopath. Killer. Deviant.

Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called this and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire. Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate researcher, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

But one kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. When his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile higher, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?


Freya’s Review

Student, Tobias Rutherford doesn’t like to think of himself as part human. He does believe himself to be the instrument of Man’s destruction. There is something special about him, which his dictator father has trained him to use for bad. He can control electrical elements.

College lecturer, British-born Dr. Sean Archer, is the one person able to drive Tobias to distraction.

The two men start the story at polar opposites of the moral spectrum. Sean is the trusting idealist, while Tobias is the untrusting amoral, cynical, society has labeled, an aberrant. But is that where either man started life? Sean challenges Tobias’s ethos. In fact, every encounter with the enigmatic lecturer leaves Tobias in emotional turmoil.

Told in the first person from Tobias’ POV, a LOT of time is spent in the young man’s head. For the most part, this is entertaining as there are some lovely turns of phrase. But, I found that, for me, too much time was spent there, and it was tempting to skip over the odd superfluous paragraph.

I loved the encounters between Sean and Tobias. Sean ticked every box for me, and I couldn’t wait for his page time. Occasionally, though, the momentum of the dialog and occasional scene, was interrupted by Tobias’ long-winded ruminations over every thought, feeling and plan.

Tobias has been trained to be a killing machine, and although cold towards the general human populace, his missions were dramatic and enticing. He tries hard to hang on to what he knows, both emotionally and physically, but, due to Sean’s actions, transition is in his future.

Just over half way, the story takes off, and I found it hard to rip myself away from it.

From The Ashes, isn’t so much a tale of redemption, but an education of the heart. Interactions whether intimate or life ending throw white hot sparks into the mix. When it happens, the action is excellent, and although Tobias is initially hard to like, his journey is ….. Well, you’ll have to read for yourself. Sean is a scene stealer – I’ll leave that statement at that, and your imagination. If one can persevere, the ending makes up for the internal verbal diarrhoea.

Purchase Links

Entangled Publishing



Meet Xen Sanders

15288441Slender. Angry. (Part) Asian.

Yeah, that about sums me up.

Hi. I’m Xen. Cole. Whatever you want to call me; both are true, and both are lies. My pen names are multitudes, my nicknames legion. Tall, bi/queer, introverted, author, and of a brown-ish persuasion made up of various flavors of Black, Asian, and Native American. I’m cuter than Hello Kitty, more bitter than the blackest coffee, and able to trip over cats in a single half-asleep lurch; I’m what happens when a Broody Antihero and a Manic Pixie Dream Boy fight to the death, and someone builds a person from the scraps left behind. Beardless, I look like the uke in every yaoi manga in existence; bearded or not, I sound like Barry White. About half my time is spent as a corporate writer, and the other half riding a train of WTFery that sometimes results in a finished book. Romance, erotica, sci-fi, horror, paranormal; LGBTQIA and cishet; diverse settings and diverse characters from a diverse author.

Sometimes I shout about things on the internet. Usually intersectional feminism and marginalized voices, and whomever’s punching down in those directions today. Sometimes human sociology, the psychology of sex and gender, and my own gender non-conforming arse (he/him, by the way). Sometimes I get really mad at Stephen Hawking and nerd out all over the place about hairy black holes, and believe it or not, that’s not a terrible pun or even worse innuendo.

That’s it. I’m a huge dork. My humor’s so dry it could empty oceans. I’m a native Southerner from the New Orleans area with zero Southern accent; I’m a mess of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual influences; I have two cats. I wake up at daft hours of the morning to go running. I crochet terrible, lumpy things that never really turn into anything. I’m older than you think I look. I’m much more shy than my fury makes me sound (signifying gods only know what, but probably nothing). Recently I decided, at 36, that I needed to restart my life and move cross-country, so I tossed 75% of my possessions in the trash and randomly trucked it to Seattle. I’m in love with books and music and technology, and they war with each other for dominance and sometimes come together in a beautiful confluence. Most of the physical books I own are strange, obscure, out of print, overseas imports, or any combination of the four. Most of the physical books I used to own were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and have been replaced with the infinite library on my Nook. My wallet has a dangerous attraction to anything with pages; it flirts and teases and gives its all, until there’s nothing left but emptiness and ruin.

There will always be things you don’t know, and I won’t tell.

But ask me late at night over live music in a seedy bar, and you might just get an honest answer.



  1. You persuaded me. I'm such a pushover. I must remember - review for Sinfully but never ever go to the blog. I going to be sooo broke this year

    1. Freya's reviews have that effect on me too!