Overall rating: 4/5
Genre: High fantasy, romance
Read if you loved: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Content warnings: Violence
Note: this review is spoiler free
I tried to savor The Crown of Gilded Bones and spectacularly failed. Wow. This delivered. If you read my review for A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, you will know that I was…less than impressed. But this? I have jumped right back on the bandwagon. At the end of AKOFAF, we were left with a reveal that you may or may not have seen coming, and that is precisely where we pick back up. Poppy is demonstrating powers beyond the capability of any mortal, and with her newfound status as the rightful Queen to Atlantia comes a slew of problems. While the wolven and Casteel see her for who she is, distrust is rampant among others who still view her as the Maiden, posing new challenges for our main couple to navigate. The Crown of Gilded Bones is bigger and bolder than its predecessors, and succeeds in striking the right balance between thrilling plot lines, steamy romance, and genuine character development to create what just might be the series’ best book so far.
I mentioned in my reviews for FBAA and AKOFAF that I found the storylines to be (generally) fun but fairly predictable. That isn’t necessarily a minus for me – if the execution is good (which it was) then I eat it up regardless, but wow did I not see so much of TCOGB coming. What an explosive beginning, and an even more explosive end. In the middle lies so much that I have been waiting for – new and old characters, tons of intricate storylines, expansions of the world, and of course, so much spice 😉. This is the book where it became apparent to me as to how much thought Jennifer Armentrout has put into this work. I was admittedly skeptical because the first two books were packed with a ton of information, and there were a lot of loose ends that I was not sure were going to come together. She’s playing the long game with this series – we get answers to things we wondered about in book 1, and all the breadcrumbs laid out so far suddenly make sense. And how can you not love that as a committed reader?
I would also like to take a moment to bow down to the Queen of smut. Because these sex scenes? 🥵 I’ve read my fair share of smut in various books but eventually I tend to get bored and skim through them because, well, they become repetitive. NOT the case here at all! She changes things up in juuuust the right way and there was not a line that I skipped past. In AKOFAF, I was beginning to get frustrated with how overwhelming the spicy content was – it’s just not the main thing I’m looking for in a book so it becomes irritating when it’s overthrowing the plot – but it was perfect in TCOGB.
Now I don’t want to spend the cons section of this review talking about my issues with Hawke because I’ve done that already (you can read more here). He was better in this book, still not my favorite, but given the events in TCOGB, I think there is room for redemption! There were still a couple small things I wish were done differently, primarily the pacing. The ending (last ~20%) was so strong, but there’s so much that happens that I wish it took up more page time? There are a couple crucial scenes that happen is such quick succession and I just wanted to sink into them but they were over so quickly. Conversely, there were scenes in the middle that dragged a little bit, and I think cutting some of that out in order to flesh out others would have been beneficial. But honestly, that’s just me nitpicking. I couldn’t put this book down and I don’t think you will be able to either.
Onto the most pressing question possibly ever – when do we get the next book?!?!?! Because with that ending, I needed book 4 yesterday. I can’t find any dates and that’s making me nervous because waiting a year sounds cruel. What did you think of TCOGB? Are you considering starting the series?