Review: “Set Fire to the Gods” by Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons

You know what’ll get me to almost automatically read a book? Give it a comp title of one of my favorite series. With this one, it’s An Ember in the Ashes.

And yes, hello. I think I may be back posting reviews twice a week. Hurrah!

My Goodreads tracker that says I’m 3 book behind schedule.


Title: Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods #1)
Author(s): Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: August 4, 2020
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 432 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.

Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family’s taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn’t have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn’t been seen in centuries.

When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash’s path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior.

But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.”

I’ll admit this book has a unique concept. I was instantly drawn to it when I saw it being compared to An Ember in the Ashes, which is one of my favorite YA fantasy series. (Although, the more I look into it, I don’t recall where I exactly saw that comparison.) I’ve read two books in Raasch’s Snow Like Ashes series but didn’t like it enough to finish the series, and I haven’t read anything by Simmons. Maybe I would have rated this book higher if I hadn’t been in such a weird mental funk while reading it. Anyways.

I liked the setting, an Ancient Rome like world where gods take the form of humans and each country is ruled by a god who specializes in a particular element. But gods are petty and use humans to fight their wars, humans who train as gladiators and fight to the death in arenas for their god in order to control or gain access to the other god’s country’s resources. It’a in these two different countries that we meet Madoc, a poor stonemason with supposedly no power, and Ash, whose mother is the fire god’s favored and best gladiator.

Like I saw, the concept is really good but everything else… I mean it’s obvious that Madoc and Ash were going to fall for each other but it didn’t feel natural, which made the ending feel weird. As for Madoc discovering his actual power… I liked how it was done. I’m distantly interested in seeing what Madoc will do with his power, and I like what he did for Ash. Both are fiercely loyal characters. The faux wall that was built between the two characters almost had me thinking this could be an enemies-to-lovers tale but the “lovers” part seems too forced at this point.

I do like the deep love Madoc and Ash have for their families, blood or not, because it’s really the catalyst for the events to follow. I found Ash to be more logical while Madoc a bit rash. They do, in a sense, even each other out and if I were more in love with this series, I’d be interested to see how the rest of the series play out for them. Alas, I am not.

This cover is top notch though. 

Check out these other reviews:

  • Aila wrote an in-depth review and rated the book the same as I did.
  • Christina at The Bookshelf Corner absolutely adored this book.
  • Donna at Pages in Waves wanted more depth from the book and its characters.

You can order this book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, or find it at your local indie with IndieBound.

5 thoughts on “Review: “Set Fire to the Gods” by Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons

  1. Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner says:

    Great review and thanks for the mention! Sorry you didn’t like it but I can see where you’re coming from. I had only read Raasch’s Snow Like Ashes series (which I also loved) and nothing by Simmons so I didn’t know how this book would turn out. Totally agree with you about the cover! 🙂


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