Book Review: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My book review of AKOFAF probably goes against the current. A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the second book in her Blood and Ash series. The story picks up right where we left off in From Blood and Ash. Overall, this is a book I couldn’t put down. While there were bits that didn’t convince me or left me perplexed, I am still eager to know what happens next. I think this book deserves more credit than the first book in the series.

(Review contains spoilers.)

Book review of AKOFAF by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire official cover art
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire official cover art

My rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Summary: After discovering that Hawke Flynn is Prince Casteel of Atlantia, Poppy faces a new reality. The Kingdom of Solis is a lie, and so is the Maiden. Poppy agrees to a fake marriage to Casteel as part of a plan to rescue Casteel’s brother. But Casteel had a taste of her blood, and it seems Poppy isn’t as human as she thinks she is.

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Audience: New Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: arranged marriage, violence, explicit sex

Well Paced, But Repetitive

Many people seem to have liked the first book more than this one, but I didn’t. I think this second book is where the series truly picks up and becomes interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, save for a few eh moments.

First, I liked the pace of the book. They basically travel almost the entire book, and maybe I’m weird, but that felt realistic to me. I also prefer this kind of world-building since it happens as the characters move from one place to another. The problem is, this makes me wonder why there was so much info-dumping in the first book since the second book would take the characters on a journey across the continent.

This novel is a perfect example of new adult fantasy for me. Since I really like the genre, I was eager to know where the story went. Poppy became a little more likable, although the inner monologue thing needs to stop at some point. The parts where she forces herself to believe that Casteel is going to sell her to the Ascended were unnecessary. Plus, they dragged on for too many chapters.

AKOFAF introduces some extra characters that seem pretty interesting as of now, like Jasper. I also liked Alastir’s desperate need for soap opera drama. Casteel is still Casteel, and maybe I’m biased because I like egotistical characters. The way he carries himself makes me laugh. His interactions with Poppy were less cheesy to me, though I wonder why everything about him is… a food comparison?

The story moves forward and becomes more about “romance” and less about politics. I don’t mind, but I am a little confused. What is the author is aiming for? What are the real stakes?

The ending of AKOFAF intrigued me and I’m truly eager to know what happens next. I hope the sequel contains more action because, although the battle in AKOFAF was far from realistic (Atlantians die only by head injury but no one wears a helmet?), it kept me entertained. I also hope we get some more insight on this religion other than legends and omens. The setup is promising.

Overall, a good fantasy romance, maybe over-hyped, but for its genre and audience, it delivered what it promised.

Unnecessary Tropes

I am a little conflicted with some words and concepts the author is introducing in her series (*coughs* heartmates *coughs*). I cannot understand the need for that. What does it bring to the plot other than some warm-and-fuzzy-feelings moments that belong to the realm of fanfiction?

Maybe this gets explained later in the series. I hope this won’t take Armentrout down the mate path that swallowed half of Sarah J. Maas’ writing, for example.

More commitment, please!

Sometimes, this book feels like it’s half-fantasy and half-erotica. The fantasy setting is very basic, with promises of an expanded universe. There’s also a lot more focus on the romance part compared to the previous book. However, Armentrout doesn’t really commit to the explicit scenes she writes. Whenever we reach that point, it’s like she writes them in a rush to get them out of the way.

To end this book review of AKOFAF, I’d say I wish she would delineate her choices better, give us fewer monologues and more affecting moments. I’m down with both epic fantasy and fantasy erotica, but at the moment… The author is just testing the waters.

The sequel to A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire is The Crown of Gilded Bones. Find my review here!