A Courtroom of Ashes by C.S. Wilde. Published on April 5, 2016. Buy on Amazon (e-book, paperback)
I received a free copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
Love. Epic battles. And a lawyer with shady morals.
Santana Jones never thought she’d fall in love with a ghost, but that was before she met John Braver, the incredibly charming and incredibly dead politician on the other side of her brand new mirror. Who knew the damned thing was a window to Purgatory?
But John isn’t alone on the other side. Vicious spirits roam free in the land of the dead.
When an evil ghost drags Santana’s soul through the mirror and into Purgatory, she’ll need all the help she can get to return to her body.With John by her side, nothing can go wrong. But Purgatory is a dangerous place for a lawyer with a pitch-black past.
Santana has always wondered if she’d go to Hell for defending rapists and murderers. Now she’ll know.
Even though it’s been three days since I finished this, part of me is still conflicted. Is it meh, do I like it, or is it good?
The book starts off really well. We get a sense of who Santana Jones is in just the first few pages, what she does for a living, and how she lives her life. We learn she’s a very good criminal lawyer, believes she looks fabulous, that she’s wronged society at least twice, and that she’s possibly trying to right her wrongs by doing free work (nothing is ever free).
As a character I really enjoyed reading from Santana’s POV. Even though she was a lawyer and older than me, there was something really relatable about her. Knowing she broke off her friendship with Barbie over a guy made me facepalm but I also understand because that’s what teenagers do. Her pride over the things she’d earned, the guilt over the things she’d done, and as the story progresses, her relationship with all of the characters. Everything just felt real and like I could be Santana Jones.
I believe this is also the first book that I’ve read where ghosts and the afterworld are involved and I loved it! Everything seemed like it was planned out in detail. How there was a Home and the Wastelands, the Shades, normal ghosts, the opening of Heaven and Hell, and other elements of Death. The only thing I had trouble understanding was the Wrath. I wasn’t entirely sure how someone became one…was it just extreme anger, like the next level of a Shade? I’m not sure.
Alongside Santana we have Honest John as our male protagonist, a real soldier who has pretty much encountered the good and bad of Death. I wasn’t really impressed with his character and while there were moments where I could understand why Santana would swoon…he just didn’t come off as approachable or real.
But the real star of this book was Irving. Irving, the cute and funny megane who had an answer for everything and who was more of the third wheel of this story. I completely agree with Barbie that his accent was adorbs! AH~ I wish there’d been more of him! Unfortunately, his role only consisted of making sure Santana and John didn’t get down and dirty in random places and to give the readers explanations (possible theories) to how Death worked.
Now, everything I’ve said sounds pretty positive and why would I be conflicted over how I should feel about this book?
Well, most of it happens in the second half of the book. At the start I was really enjoying the pacing, how the characters were interacting, and just a lot of the elements. Then the later half started and things started to pick up. Santana somehow found a sword in the middle of the road (not exactly but basically), she turned from self-sufficient badass lawyer to teenager in seconds, she met all of her ghosts in Death and easily conquered them, she was SO guilt ridden to the point of annoyance, and everything just came easily to her.
Even that ending where Heaven and Hell open up during the epic battle between Wraths felt too convenient. Maybe if the book had been some 100+ pages longer, things could have been smoothed out.
Basically it wasn’t a bad story but I was expecting more because it started off really well.
Rating: 3/3.5 out of 5
Final Thoughts: For being my first read on ghosts and the afterlife, this book did a really good job at introducing me to one way we can look at Death. The characters were memorable, the relationships felt real, and we get a complete story in one book, however, there were a few things I just couldn’t ignore. Two of them being the pace and convenience of events in the second half of the book. I would SO read a book centered around Irving, haha
Would I purchase this book for a friend/me? I would purchase this for a friend