Fantasy Novels

‘Ash Kickers’ Review: Adrenaline Fueled Adventure in a Modern Fantasy World

Ash Kickers features the kind of excitement and stellar writing that makes for a great adventure.

It’s a world of dragons, ghosts, and new larger-than-life creatures, highlighted by the always compelling Smoke Eaters and their deadly 9-5 experiences. This is modern fantasy at its best, taking the mythical creatures of legends and plugging them into a future not far removed from present day. Grigsby is fully committed to creating an adventure that never disappoints, and does so expertly.


It’s my strange preference to read a second book in a series without reading the first. I like to see how the author addresses previous books and if the individual entries can stand on their own under scrutiny. In the case of Ash Kickers, I was enthralled from the start, thanks to the author’s imaginative creations and strong character work. It’s always exciting to find an author who has a mastery for realistic, down-to-earth dialogue. I felt connected to these characters, laughing at their tough yet caring back and forths. There always seems to be something to prove between the Smoke Eaters but at the end of the day, they’d each lie their life on the line for any one of their crew members. Those are the kinds of relationships that pull you into the narrative and keep you invested until the end. 


Grigsby doesn’t hold back his inventiveness when it comes to pulling dragons into this world. I’m sure a lot of this was covered in the previous entry in the series, but I was fascinated nonetheless. It’s a constantly changing world, with the dragon foes evolving to fight against their human oppressors. You never know what kind of creature is going to pop up next, adding suspense to an already adrenaline filled adventure.


The battles against the dragons and other creatures are exceptionally done. There’s never a dull moment as these brave Smoke Eaters fight for their lives with each encounter. Exploding dragons, firestorms, enormous mythological beings – it’s all on the table, just waiting to explode from the page. I found myself racing through the pages to keep up with the pace. It’s a fun time, to be sure.


I love a good adaptation of old school fantasy characters and themes into modern day. It’s exciting to imagine beings as old school as dragons flying around modern day middle America. The book never falls into trope territory, but continues to add something new and fresh to the genre. Major props to Grigsby for creating something so unique and thrilling.

Ash Kickers
By Sean Grigsby
Published by Angry Robot

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

Photo by BÜNYAMİN GÖRÜNMEZ on Unsplash

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