Hello and welcome to another review!
Okay, I know what you are thinking. “This book series is everywhere, what the hell is so special about this book” or you are thinking “I do not read over-hyped books because they never live up to the hype”
Let me give you reasons to check this series out. Yes I have read a number of JLA books and I have not liked them all, some I even DNF but that is to tell you that she has a book for everyone. Not everyone might like this book series but if you like reading fantasy, romance, magically worlds, vampires, wolves then this is one you want to pick up. The magic system in this world is just so different, it is not simple and it bridges good and evil. All the characters are morally grey (which I love, I don’t like reading about goody shoes) and they are willing to go as far as possible to get what they want. The main characters are not heroes, they are people with more power than mortals and even gods deserve to have!
You might notice some ads in the middle of the post, your girl is just trying to make some money, so check them out if you are interested. (Very Long Post Ahead)
From Blood and Ash
If you read this book and you didn’t like it then let me squash your reasons. If you DNF this book, let me give you a reason to pick it up again. If you have not picked it up because of mixed reviews, let me help you calm your confusion so that you can pick it up.
“The more I would desperately want to believe that I was special to him because I just wanted to be special to someone. Anyone…”
A brief summary
Poppy is a maiden. Not just because she has never had sex before, but because she is supposedly chosen by the gods. She has lived most of her life in solitary, veiled, silenced and without real human connections. The most connection to the human world she has is with her royal guards and her lady in wait, Tawny. Her royal guard who was a father figure to her, Vikter taught her how to fight and protect herself. In the fighting aspect, she is trying a badass but no one can know. Not only because Vikter would lose his head but because she is supposed to be ‘chaste and innocent’ which really doesn’t link. Anyways, one night, she finds herself in the much rumoured “Red Pearl”. A place more like a regency era risque brothel but since I cannot really place the time period this book is set in, I ask that you think of it has a place where you can really go wild. She finds herself in a room with a guard that she has heard so much about, not only has she heard about him, she has seen his hot ass in action. Since she has decided to live a little, she enjoys his kisses and a little bit more. Hawke Flynn is an amazing kisser!
Skipping forward a bit to avoid spoilers. Hawke became her royal guard after the death of Rylan. This is when things actually pick up in this book. With Hawke has her guard there are more stolen kisses, glances and touches much to Vikter distaste. Then came the yearly Rite, the duke ends up spiked through the heart and hanging from the ceiling like meat. Vikter dies and in her rage, she kills asshole Lord Brandole Mazeen, chopped him up like meat. Did he deserve it? Well, I will leave that for you to answer.
Poppy is sedated and by the time she wakes up she had been requested by the Queen to be sent back to the capital. This is when I started yelling “when is the betrayal going to happen?” because I knew that things were going too smoothly. Then we found out who the Dark one really was…
I tried reading the reasons people had for not liking this book.
The names: Yes I agree that the names were weird, I think the only people with normal names in the book were Hawke and Keiran, which is ironic considering what they are. This reason is simply silly in my opinion, not liking a whole book because the author decided to replace vowels with other vowels. It was weird but did not after my reading pleasure. For all we know, some people might have names like that!
Info dumpy: True but the same can be said of any book series with magic systems and mystical creatures and worlds. The first book in the series is usually info-dumpy and that is just the way the author lays out the structure of the coming books. I understand that it might take the enjoyment out of reading a book with over 600 pages when you are basically just reading about world-building and no actual character influence, which I have to say was not the case in this book. Right from the very first chapter, we are introduced to the main character and her dilemma.
Fanfiction: Honestly, I personally take this as an insult. They say it reads like fanfiction. What is wrong with fanfictions?? There is nothing, people who write fanfiction are also writers, how do you know it reads like fanfiction if you don’t spend time reading them. I am not even going to grace this reason with an explanation.
Zero sense: This is one that actually confuses me. What exactly is meant by the book made zero sense? I understand that towards the end of this book, things got a little complicated, especially since the structure of the Ascended which we understood was upended both for the reader and for Poppy. We find out more about the Atlantians and what and how their power works. We also find out why the children are given to the gods and what becomes of the children. Further, we find out the source of Hawke’s pain and understand why Poppy’s power seemed to be growing. So, this book made perfect sense, it was a little confusing at first but once I got to understand the magic system, I realized that this is almost like every other fantasy series that lays its foundation on betrayal, power and deceit!
Porn: If people think that Poppy and Hawke making out in Red Pearl was porn or even them finally smashing was porn then they have not read adult romance books. Don’t get me wrong, JLA did her thing with the steaminess but it was okay and not something my head exploded over. It was fine! Let me not even compare the scenes to that written by Tessa Bailey or Talia Hibbert. I think people need to be reminded that this is an Adult fantasy, not YA that they might be used to reading.
Tropes: Is this book tropey? Yes, it is. Did it work well in the context of the book? Yes, it did.
What time period was this book actually set in? Is there even a time construct? It read like old English before the time of carriages but that cannot really be because they had electricity and running hot water so might be a little later. Or probably, the world is set outside of past or current reality, it might be a world in the author’s reality where anything she wants works. The world did not seem mythical or like the fairyland like we have seen in Holly Black or Sarah J. Maas books. It just felt incorrect or rather incomplete. Maybe once I read past the Skotos Mountains, things might make more sense!
I gave this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
When I got about 10 chapters into this book, I decided that it was going to be a 2.8 out of 5 stars for me because of the story progression and the seeming lack of direction. But let me tell you why I changed my mind and why I think this book is worthy of more than 4 stars.
A brief summary (I ducked 0.2 stars because of slow story progression and 0.2 because I wasn’t given ‘The Joining’ I was hoping for!!) Note: if you have not read book one, then some things might be spoilers.
This book starts off seconds after the end of book one with Casteel telling his people at the keep that he was going to get married to Poppy. As expected nobody is happy with the Prince of Atlantia, next in line to the throne marrying the Maiden, a woman so close to the Ascended. She was not accepted and even till the end of the book, this did not change.
There was a lot of self-discovery and building of their relationship and her finding out more about the culture of the people of Atlantia. She learns more about the gods and the ascended. With her new knowledge, she decides to join hands with Casteel, not only because she believes she would be able to meet her brother again but because she has fallen in love with him. Everything seemed to be going well until a group of ascended made their way to the Keep. Lord Chaney, the ascended and the knights arrive at the Keep, the laid slaughter to the people there and that was really the first time that Poppy was the carnage the Ascended were known to lay. To save the life of a boy, she surrendered. Knocked over the head, only to wake up in a fast-moving carriage. Lord Chaney figured out that she had been bitten by Casteel also that she knew everything about the falsehood that the kingdom had fed the people. Chaney ends up biting her in his blood rage and she stabs him like a pin cushion. she is saved/not really by Casteel and he takes her back to the Keep.
They soon leave the keep to Spessa’s End which had been reclaimed by the Atlantians. Since the land was now of the Atlantians, they could get married. I think this is a good time to bring up ‘The Joining’ something that everyone cannot stop talking about. It is supposed to be a ceremony where Poppy was supposed to be bonded with a wolven, blood is exchanged and it can get very sexual. I will let you read it for yourself. But we soon will not forget chapter twenty-six (26) and how things heated up with her caught between Casteel and Kieran. (Personal note: I will not be mad if anything happened. Just saying)
Duchess Teerman and some of her goons came and people were killed. Poppy’s power grew and she found out things about herself that made lots of people afraid of her. They arrived at Atlantia and the most unexpected thing happened.
Reasons for the lower rating at the beginning: I think it was the fact that the book suddenly because solely a relationship between Poppy and Casteel, I understand that it was a phase necessary for trust and bonding, it just felt too much and almost unnecessary. It is not unusual for book series to have filler chapters in the second book. I did feel at first that the story was not progressing fast enough but after completing the whole book I quickly realized that it was moving at a necessary pace. It was was fast enough that we moved across large acres in a few chapters but it was slow enough that we really experienced life at each of the locations the author settled.
There was a large influx of characters in this book. Most of them died along the way but the pain of their loss was felt. They were not just filler characters, each and every one of them played an important role, even if their’s was just to die.
I gave this book 4.6 out of 5 stars
The Crown of Gilded Bones
What in Nyktos’ name was that ending?!!!!!!!! I need the next book yesterday. I cannot wait to read what happens next! (As this is the third book in the series there is obviously going to be some spoilers in the review from books 1 and 2. Best to read this review after reading the first two books.)
This book picks up at the temple where Poppy’s power has just been witnessed by the King and Queen of Atlantia and the Wolven have sworn their fealty to her. At the same location, she is kidnapped by Alistair and chained. This is when she finds out about her power and some long-forgotten prophecy about her. Most of which by the way was false and Alistair was just licking his own ass.
She is rescued by Casteel, his father and the wolven. At this point, we begin to see the link between poppy and the gods. She is killed during this fight and she had to be made into an ascended for her to be saved. I am trying so hard not to spoil this book but from this point in the story, things really build up. She meets her brother Ian who is an ascended, he suggests that she go wake Nyktos (King of the gods) who happens to be her grandfather, which leads to them searching for the land where the gods slept. There is a lot of sex thrown in there. She finally meets Miss Willa (the lady whose smut Poppy loves to read). A little spoiler; as it happens Miss Willa was the one who directed her to Casteel’s room at the red pearl.
At the end of the book, we see Poppy grown as a person and into her identity as a god. The power she holds and her ability to maintain her compassion even in the face of her own rage.
I really enjoyed this book. There is definitely a lot going on in this book compared to the first two in the series but it was so great. I cannot wait for the next book. With Poppy sending a message to Isbeth, I wonder what is going to happen. I am standing with Poppy, I doubt anyone would want to be on the wrong side of a woman with a dragon!
There is this quote I pulled from this book that just expresses love to me
“I will not replace the veil you loathed with a crown you hate”
I gave this book 4.7 out of 5 stars
I cannot wait to see where this story goes!
Thanks for reading.