Remember when I said that From Blood And Ash was a great New Adult series? Yeah. You can scratch that. The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout took a huge dump on me.
Cover from Amazon
⭐⭐.5/5: was it really okay?
The fact alone that it took me exactly one month to finish this book is enough of an indication that this was one of the worst reads this year so far. I am so disappointed by this third installment. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it after finishing the first and the second book, and now all I can think of is how I got scammed.
Because yes, this book, this series, turned out to be a scam for me. Apparently, this series is going to last 6 books?! Really? How much are we trying to milk readers here? I mean, take my money Jenny, I was up for it, but not after this book. If you’re gonna empty my wallet, give me something that feels rewarding.
Warning: spoilers ahead
First problem: the categories vs the content
I kid you not when I say that when I bought this on Amazon, it showed up among Epic Fantasy and Erotica.
Let me get rid of the Erotica part first because that one’s easy. This has to be the one book with fewer erotic moments out of all three books. We have a good amount of recycling old sex scenes that readers enjoyed and that’s about it. There is nothing erotic about it. People, authors need to understand that including sex in your story doesn’t automatically make it Erotica. Erotica is meant to focus on sexual feelings. I’m not sure repeating “honeydew” after giving oral to your woman is Erotica. And having less than 10% of sex in a book certainly doesn’t make it erotic/romantic literature either.
Now, the Epic Fantasy part. You’d think that in the third installment of a fantasy series, you’d have some epic battles going on. Do we get that? Absolutely not. After 600+ pages the situation is still the same as before. The people they had to defeat aren’t defeated, the battles and wars that were promised didn’t even begin. I don’t know what is epic here. Is it the Gods? The Draken? They don’t do anything relevant and when they were about to, the book ended. This world has many elements that can be considered high fantasy (the hero’s powers, the fight against evil, the mythical creatures, the power struggle) but they are so underdeveloped after three books that it doesn’t work. I would have said this is general fantasy, not epic, not high.
Second problem: the bus without a driver
This is literally how it feels. This book was like going on a school trip, hopping on the rented bus, and finding out there was no one driving it. Let me explain, otherwise I will just sound mean for no reason.
Poppy begins by getting kidnapped again. So without doing a retelling of this mess, these characters went from Spessa’s End to Saion’s Cove to the Wastelands to Saion’s Cove (or did they stop in Spessa’s End there too? Can’t remember) to Evaemon to Spessa’s End to Evaemon to the Iliseeum to Evaemon to Oak Ambler to Evaemon to the Iliseeum to Oak Ambler. And they didn’t get a single thing done. This entire book was meant to do some more world-building, info-dumping, and to set up the freaking prequel about Nyktos. A freaking book in a series setting up its own prequel. I cannot comprehend this. Not as a reader, not as a writer, not as a lama.
Third problem: the dialogue
The dialogue made ACOTAR look like a masterpiece in comparison. Let’s keep in mind that these characters either descend from royalty or from gods and were brought up surrounded by nobles. And yet, I have never seen so many fucks and shits flying around. Or modern slang and colloquialisms. Things like, “One hell of a hole”, “I don’t give a flying fuck/shit”,”Like super dead” and the list goes on. You’d think this would come only from the Scooby Gang Cas/Poppy/Kieran/Netta on their spooky mission in the gods’ mountains but nooo… Even the queens with similar names talk like they came straight out of an emo TV show.
Wait, no. That’s a bad comparison. The queens talk like they came out of The Young and the Restless, hands slicing the air and dramatic zooming in their faces as they reveal they’re not “that dead character” but “that one’s mother” and “I was so unloved I had to do it”.
Fourth problem: the unrelatable character development
In this book, one thing is consolidated at least and that’s Poppy’s lineage. This again was such a disappointment because the first book completely took the “chosen one” trope and destroyed it by revealing that there is no such thing as a Maiden but now we’re back with something even worse. The fact that Poppy is SO SPECIAL. She is some god’s grandchild which explains why she has empath powers and why she is bonded to the wolven, etc. What baffles me is that she is so quick to understand how her powers work. It takes her what, a month or less, according to this timeline, to be able to go all Jean Grey on her enemies? We never see her training or researching what she can and cannot do, all we get is:
“I am a god. And I’m so over it. I learned how to fight like a god.”
Glad she learned that in one night before she was to meet the Big Bad King.
But Poppy’s special only when it’s time to make people explode. In fact, she spent quite some time believing that Malec was her father although Eloana told her she entombed the mofo eons ago and it was stated already in book one or two that she didn’t age slower so she really is 18 years old.
Fifth (and last) problem (because I am discontent enough): the internalized sexism
1) Poppy: she’s the legitimate heir of Atlantia because she descends from the gods. Her existence alone broke the bonds between the wolven and the elemental Atlantians. So, she wants Casteel to be her equal and that’s all fine and dandy but someone has to explain the following to me.
If she’s above the Atlantian rulers why is she is still Penellaphe Balfour Da’Neer and not Penellaphe Balfour? Why isn’t Casteel the one taking her last name?
If she’s above the Atlantian rulers why is everyone acknowledging Casteel as the King first and then her as the Queen?
If she’s a god why does even she see herself as “the one Casteel made his” and not the other way around?
2) Casteel: aside from the fact that I’m sick and tired of those fake “morally grey” characters being washed clean from their actions, someone has to tell me if giving Poppy the d is all Casteel is good at anymore. He appeared in a few chapters to play the role of the loving husbando and to shag Poppy silly and tell her that he’s still in control when she just wanted sillier shagging.
And they say men can’t write women. Well, some women can’t write men either.
I honestly don’t think I’ll pick up the next books. It’s a shame because I really liked FBAA and AKOFAF and had high hopes for this series as a whole. I rambled about how great it is in the New Adult genre. And it was just a let-down.