Overall rating: 3/5
Genre: High fantasy, romance
Read if you loved: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Content warnings: Violence
Ugh I’m really out here with the least popular of opinions. I promise I’m still very excited for The Crown of Gilded Bones but its predecessor just did not do it for me. Maybe it was overhyped, after all, almost every single review that I’ve read says it’s better than From Blood and Ash so I was pumped…but I have to wholeheartedly disagree. A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire picks up immediately where From Blood and Ash leaves off and explores Poppy’s journey of discovering the realities of the world she has been instrumental in maintaining. Besides wrestling with her own beliefs on where the truth lies, she also has to contend with the loss of a man she thought she knew as well as the distrust of those who may seek to hurt her. A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire is more character-driven in its storytelling as opposed to relying on a fast-paced plot as in From Blood and Ash, but its repetitive content and character regression had me wishing things went in a different direction.
I can check off what I *really* liked about AKOFAF on one hand – the ending, new characters, and Kieran. That ending was what I flipped through every single page for, and it paid off. Good thing too, because I don’t know how I’d be feeling about TCOGB without it. The last 20% of the book really picks up in terms of giving readers something fresh, and finally giving us some answers to questions that have been lingering since FBAA. I also enjoyed some of the new characters we meet (the guardians!!) and I’m very eager to see them play a bigger role in future books. And of course, we have so much more Kieran and I lived for his scenes. I just wanted more of him and everyone else! Instead, I got way too much Hawke who honestly gave me the ick. Which brings me to…
What the heck happened to Hawke in this book?! I was swooning over him in FBAA and then found myself wishing he would die in AKOFAF. His entitlement and toxic male energy was unattractive, his banter with Poppy got boring, cheesy, and repetitive until he’d interject with sex to end any discussion. And look, I love me some good smut, but it has to come at the right place and time. It felt like each scene was just building up to another sex scene and I was getting really sick of it. Poppy herself lost her edge, and I was so frustrated with her behaving highly unlike herself in FBAA. The intent of AKOFAF seemed to be to develop their relationship – but at the end of the book, I didn’t think we actually learned that much more about them. We just watched them learn and come to terms with what we already knew would happen. If this book were 300 pages (which I fully believe it could have been) – my rating would have been higher, but at 600+ pages, this was a bit of a snooze.
I know everyone loves this book so if you do – please tell me why! I want to love it too! I just don’t right now. Good thing is I think there’s a lot of exciting material to work with in TCOGB so I’m expecting (and hoping) for more FBAA and less AKOFAF. Let me know what you think in the comments below!