Book Review: The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Warning! This book review of TCOGB contains slander. Remember when I said Blood and Ash was a brilliant series for new adults? Yeah. You can scratch that. The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout took a huge dump on me. This book has no place to exist, and only proved the author is part of the problematic batch of writers.

(Review contains spoilers.)

Book review TCOGB by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Crown of Gilded Bones official cover art
The Crown of Gilded Bones official cover art

My rating: ★★ (2/5)

Summary: Poppy and Casteel don’t know where to go or what to do for 645 pages. Sometimes, they fuck.

Genre: Want-to-be Erotica

Audience: People with Alzheimer’s

Themes/potential trigger warnings: violence, explicit sex, complete lack of editing

This is a first draft, not a novel.

The fact alone that it took me exactly one month to finish this book is enough of a sign that this was one of the worst reads of the year. I am so disappointed by this third installment. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it after finishing the first and 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 going to empty my wallet, give me something that feels rewarding.

Problem #1: Categories versus 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 focuses on sexual feelings. I’m not sure repeating the word 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 main characters have yet to fight their enemies. The promised battles and wars didn’t even begin. I don’t know what is epic here. Is it the Gods? The Draken? They did nothing relevant and when they were about to… the book ended.

This world has many elements that could fall into the high fantasy genre (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.

Problem #2: The bus without a driver

This book was like going on a school trip, hopping on the rented bus, and finding out there was no one driving it.

Poppy begins by getting kidnapped again. So without doing a retelling of this mess, these characters went from:

Spessa’s End → Saion’s Cove → The Wastelands → Saion’s Cove (with another potential stop at Spessa’s End but I can’t remember) → Evaemon → Spessa’s End → Evaemon → The Iliseeum → Evaemon → Oak Ambler → Evaemon → The Iliseeum → Oak Ambler.

And they didn’t get a single thing done. This entire book added more world-building, info-dumping, and 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.

Problem #3: The dialogue

The dialogue made ACOTAR look like a masterpiece in comparison. Let’s keep in mind that the characters descend from either royalty or gods and grew 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 no.

Even the queens with similar names talk like they came straight 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.”

Problem #4: Poppy’s so speshul

This book confirmed at least one thing, 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 there is no such thing as a Maiden, but now we’re back with something even worse.

That Poppy is SO SPECIAL. She is some god’s grandchild, which explains why she has Empath powers and why she bonded with the Wolven, etc. What baffles me is that she is so quick to understand how her powers work. She needs what, a month or less, according to this timeline, 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 the author stated in the previous books that Poppy didn’t age slower, so she really is 18 years old.

Problem #5: Internalized Sexism & Terrible PoC Representation

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?

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 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.

Also, I want to point out how every major PoC character is a Wolven, and when the Wolven got rid of the bond that tied them to the elemental Atlantians AKA a bunch of white dudes, it is just to go serve Poppy. Another white character. There’s no choice, and honestly, there’s no more confirmation needed that the Blood and Ash series comes with some truly harmful representation. In the text, it’s literally an honor for the Wolven.

To end this book review of TCOGB, 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. It was just a let-down.

What did I read next? Indigo Dusk by Kristy Nicolle!

October update: Rumor has it Jennifer L. Armentrout fired her editor and still released A Shadow in the Ember. Some people don’t get it, huh?