Title: A kingdom of flesh and fire
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre(s): Fantasy, romance
My rating: 4/5 stars
Other books by this author: A lot, on the author's website you can find all the titles.
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A kingdom of flesh and fire is the sequel to From blood and ash, I advise you to stop here if you haven't read the first part yet. Otherwise you will see big spoilers for part 1. This story continues immediately after the cliffhanger of part 1 and that's necessary because it brought quite a change. Everything that seemed true for Poppy turned out not to be true at all. Her powers are getting stronger, and many people and creatures would rather see her dead than alive. Still, Poppy sees a chance to find her brother. So she makes an agreement with Casteel, for his brother and for her brother. They pretend, but how long can you keep this up when everything is at stake? When deeper feelings surface, can you forget the urge for revenge? The two must cope with a world that seems to be turning completely against them, and that brings more difficulties along than they thought when the plan was made.
In this second part, you get to know the main characters even better, and especially, the true nature of some of the characters. You also meet new characters who make the story even more fun. Of course, you keep following Poppy, Casteel, and Kieran the most, those three are so nice with each other. Also, the relationship between Poppy and Casteel develops in a calm way, with in between some heavy desires. You empathize with the characters and understand how they act and think. Just like you understand how Poppy's powers develop. You see how confusing she finds it, and that there is only little time to process things, and that makes you empathize with her. Also, Poppy's curiosity is always present, and she asks exactly the questions you have as a reader too, which makes you connect well with her as a character. Although, as a reader you also wait for the moment when Poppy and Casteel have a good talk and clear up some things between them, which they don't really want to admit.
Besides these characters, some other new characters are introduced, for example Vonetta and Jasper, Kieran's sister and father. They are well portrayed right from the start and are fun characters to follow. These characters also play a pretty important role in the journey that is made. Besides these two, more characters are shown and all of them are portrayed in their own way and you start to care about them, even though not everyone survives. Of course, the soulless Ascendeds are not out of the picture, and they come along from time to time, and they are written so well too. They just give you the chills with what they all do.
This book is a very big build up to part 3 and you keep noticing that throughout the book. It's a long journey and things slowly unravel, but most of it still remains a mystery. Just like Poppy you want to get different answers, but most of the time it only gets more unclear. The tension is good, but is also nicely interspersed with quieter scenes (although our two main characters did not always do it quiet). The relationships between the characters are developed further and you get to know them a little better each time. You also learn more about Atlantia and other cities in this world. This happens in a very nice way during the journey, because you experience it together with the character and it is not just told.
Here and there, I felt the story could have gone a bit faster and that it took a bit long before anything really happened. Although the slow pacing here and there was nicely used to work out a relationship. Towards the end, it became increasingly clear that things were about to change and that something big was about to happen. And in the beginning there were also a lot of events following up on the cliffhanger with which part 1 ended. In my opinion, the middle section could be a little shorter at certain points.
Other than that, I found this book great to read, and I don't know if I can ever let go of these characters. Just like part 1, this book ends with a cliffhanger, and I had to keep reading to find out what would happen next. Fortunately, I already had part 3, so I could immediately continue the story. Which instantly brought new surprises along. I never saw this ending coming, although I also did. I sometimes had the feeling that something like this would happen, especially with the things that were said, but it also came out of the blue for me.
So overall, I found this another great story to read, even though I found it a little tedious at times. In the end, the characters made up for it all.
A kingdom of flesh and fire is a strong second part in the series. It continues right from the cliffhanger of part 1 and prepares for a big thing that will happen in part 3. You get to know more and more about different characters and just like them, you want to know the answers to many questions. This story also ends with a cliffhanger, which makes you want to read part 3 instantly. There are more steamy scenes in this book than in part 1, so if you didn't like that in part 1, you might want to stay away from this book. But for all other readers who like fantasy with romance, this is a great story to read.
Let's finish with one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“I don’t want to pretend,” I whispered. “I’m Poppy and you’re Casteel, and this is real.”
- Jennifer L. Armentrout. A kingdom of flesh and fire.