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There was no way I was taking a pause to read something else. I jumped straight into A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout after finishing From Blood and Ash. Especially on the cliff hanger that book left off on. And like the previous book, I COULD NOT put this book down and finished it in a day.
Is Love Stronger Than Vengeance?
Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.
Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.
But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.
- Published: September 1, 2020
- Page Count: 570 page count
- Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Thoughts While Reading (Spoilers Included)
Alright writing this after I’ve finished the book so don’t mind if things are all over the place. Going to breakdown my thoughts on a few things and as the header of this section says there will be spoilers.
So, the book starts off right where the previous left on. On the cliff hanger that Casteel announces that he’s going to marry Poppy without consulting her on this detail. The two argue and eventually come to an agreement to go forward with the plan with conditions:
- It’s purely an arrangement and will only act in love in public. And Poppy can hate Casteel all she wants in private in front of him or Kieran.
- They both rescue their brothers.
- After their brothers are rescued if Poppy desires it, the marriage will end with a divorce.
Of course, they have to get to Atlantian soil first in order to wed. Which means they have to travel out of Solis. Their plans are delayed by weather and an attack on the hold from the Ascended trying to get Poppy, the Maiden, back. She realizes that Casteel has not lied to her about what the Ascended are. And while she still doesn’t trust him after betraying her, she also stops trying to escape after they rescue her after she’s taken.
The group heads to the Spessa’s End where the relationship between Poppy and Casteel has changed. They pretend on occasions to be Hawke and Poppy (back when their relationship wasn’t complicated), and eventually this along with conversations with Kieran (bonded wolven of Casteel) that she cares about Casteel regardless of what happened in the past. Not to mention that he cares a lot about her, to the point where he stops feeding from other Atlantians because he can’t stand the thought of doing that with anyone other than Poppy.
Also, Poppy’s abilities have been maturing along their journey especially in Spessa’s End, a city that Atlantia took back. She doesn’t need to imagine a connection anymore or think about happy thoughts to take away pain. She can do both instantly. And eventually she’s able to heal others with a mere touch. It also no longer leaves her with headaches afterwards. This could be the Culling (state of maturing amongst their race) or Casteel’s blood in her system. Wolven also are able to sense things from Poppy sort of like a call to action.
Most of the book revolves around Poppy sorting out Hawke/Casteel, and her feelings regarding him. As well as them traveling to his home. You can see her struggle with being around him after everything he’s done, and trying to come to terms with where that leaves them. Ultimately, she does. She starts calling him by his real name, talking with him about personal things, allowing him to feed on her blood, and being very intimate with him. The two share a room anytime they lodge anywhere, and you can see how the trust goes both ways with them. Casteel at first locks the door until she proves she knows how to picklock, then there’s a guard outside of it. Over time, he leaves it unlock and doesn’t leave someone guarding her all the time. Not just for her protection, but to make sure she doesn’t run away back to the Ascended.
The gods make several appearances throughout the novel. Where Poppy’s blood was spilt during the attempted kidnapping a blood tree grows. When Casteel and Poppy marry their union is blessed by the gods as day turns into night after they complete the ceremony. And when Poppy sleeps in the mountains surrounded by mist, they stop her from sleepwalking off the edge of a cliff. While the Ascended called her the Maiden, or the one Chosen by Gods, for their own purposes. Poppy truly is chosen by the gods, or at least they are watching out for her. And they tell her to take what it is… which I assumed with Casteel since they are heartmates. Which is basically a blessed union that makes the mortal blooded one immortal, if they go through trials or something that gods decide upon. Which I have a feeling is skipped over, or something that will happen in the next book.
Poppy also learns from the Duchess that the Queen of Blood and Ash, the Ascended Queen is her grandmother. How much of that is true? We don’t know. Much of Poppy’s lineage is debated during the course of the book. We do learn about the different types of Atlantians, which I thought was really interesting even if the majority of the bloodlines have died out.
Ummmm… the cliff hanger on this book is just… what? Poppy almost gets stoned to death after she’s lead away from the group by a young wolven she had once healed. No one suspects anything wrong, even when Poppy senses the boy is scared. As she’s being stoned, she lashes out revealing that she’s not only an empath, but she is the last descendent of the King of Gods. The sky starts bleeding blood, blood trees appear, and those attacking her died. Her eyes also changed color or something happened with them. But when it’s over, the rest of the group arrives including Casteel’s parents. And his mother announces that she’s the rightful ruler of Atlantia. The Queen takes off her crown and announces this as everyone kneels in front of her including Casteel while the wolven surround her in a protective manner. Like we know she’s chosen by the Gods, but a descendant of one? That was a twist I did not see coming.
Final Thoughts (Spoiler Free)
I could not put this book down, and I seriously need the next book to find out what happens next. But we have to wait until April 2021 for that. I have a feeling this book is going to leave me with a bit of a book hang-over. One in which means I’ll probably end up re-reading the series several times, and not be able to onto another book for a while. Great…
This book was way more of a romance book than a fantasy book. It explores Poppy’s and Casteel’s relationship more than it does the world that Jennifer L. Armentrout established in the previous book. There’s plot, but this book is way more focused around the romance than the plot. Unlike From Blood and Ash, which was more about the plot. It didn’t feel jarring to make that switch and I’m curious how the next book in the series will handle it. Especially since for the most part the two characters have reconciled their differences, and the romance arc I don’t think we be a massive focus coming up. Instead it will return to the plot driven style, focusing on the conflict between Solis and Atlantia, and rescuing the brothers. Not that I’m 100% positive on that. We’ll have to see when the next book comes out.
Even though the book was largely romance-driven (which is not my usual reading style or taste), I didn’t mind it in this instance. Since there was still plot going on and no parts felt like they dragged. Even when they were trekking across the country. And I hate when it turns into camping trips during those types of sections, but luckily that did not happen. Anything mentioned played into the larger theme of the series or played into something that happened later in the book.
This book served as a good transition of Poppy’s very limited view point of the past to what’s happening on a larger scale. As well as her coming to terms with who Casteel is and everything he’s done. Yes, some things were horrible. He did lie and there’s blood on his hands. But he did try to minimize the fall out, and tried to shield Poppy from most of it. Not to mention, he rescued her from a cult government that wanted to use her as a blood bag. Which was greatly needed after what occurred in From Blood and Ash.
Overall, I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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