The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.

Fantasy, 645 pages, published in 2021

Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Oh man, where do I even start with this book…I enjoyed the first book, had mixed feelings about the second, but this one took it to a whole other level.

THE GOOD

There was one specific scene where Casteel told Poppy that she can be who she is and feel everything she’s feeling around him. She didn’t need permission, but after guarding herself for so long, she had forgotten.

THE BAD

This book just felt like one long, repetitive, boring conversation. It just felt like the characters had a problem, would discuss it, get absolutely nowhere, then discuss it again. There was some action at the beginning and end, but other than that, it was just a long conversation.

There were some references to modern day things (like showers and casseroles, of all things) that immediately took me out of the story. It takes some effort to take this book seriously for me, but those things made it impossible.

Everything with the worldbuilding and family trees is so confusing to me and I’m not sure it will ever make sense.

I RECOMMEND THIS FOR…

If you enjoyed the first and second books, you’ll probably like this one? I’m not even sure. My opinions about this series go downhill with each installment, especially when I realized that there will be at least two more books in the series after this one.

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A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

After being betrayed by those she thought she trusted and finding out everything she’d been told her entire life was a life, Poppy is stuck with nowhere to turn.

Fantasy, 713 pages, published in 2020

After being betrayed by those she thought she trusted and finding out everything she’d been told her entire life was a life, Poppy is stuck with nowhere to turn.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warnings: explicit sex, mentions of torture, sexual assault, and imprisonment

Even though I enjoyed this book quite a bit, I had some issues, so I think the first one is still my favorite.

The first book has a mysterious element, where you don’t really know what is going on, but once you (and Poppy) find out, the story lost that mysterious atmosphere that I enjoyed so much.

There was a lot of worldbuilding and lore at the end of the first book that went over my head a little bit, and I wish I understood it better because I feel like a lot of this book relies on the reader knowing that. There were a couple reveals that left me underwhelmed because I had literally no idea why they were important.

I also felt like the plot was quite drawn out. This is by no means a short book, and not a whole lot happens in terms of plot. There was also one very inappropriately timed sex scene that actually made me laugh out loud because I was shocked!

I still really enjoyed this book! The romantic relationship definitely progressed and gained some depth that I really liked. I also have a new favorite character – Kieran! His sense of humor and his loyalty to those he cares about made him so likeable to me.

I’m definitely excited for the next book! I don’t know how JLA gets these books out so fast, but man, am I thankful. I’m hoping I can get a better grasp on the lore beforehand, because I know it’s going to play a big role going forward. There was also a ritual mentioned in this book many times and if you’ve read it, I’m sure you know which one I mean. Anyway, based on how many times it was mentioned, I am desperately hoping that it will happen in the next book!

Anyway, this was definitely a good entry into this series, though I do think it suffered a little bit from middle book syndrome.

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From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Poppy has been told since she was a child that the fate of her people relies on her sacrifice as the Maiden. She’s had faith in that, even though no one will tell her exactly what it means, and she begins to question her role once she meets her mysterious new guard, Hawke.

Fantasy, 634 pages, published in 2020

Poppy has been told since she was a child that the fate of her people relies on her sacrifice as the Maiden. She’s had faith in that, even though no one will tell her exactly what it means, and she begins to question her role once she meets her mysterious new guard, Hawke.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: abuse, murder/death, death of family members, mentions of possible sexual assault, graphic sex, violence

I definitely had expectations going into this book (that it was going to be a fun, steamy time) and it definitely met those expectations!

I have to say that my biggest problem with this book was that I was definitely confused for about the first half about the worldbuilding. Words like “the Rise” and “Ascension” meant nothing to me, so I kind of just went along with it until I finally got it. There was a point near the end that was a tad info-dumpy, but at least then I was actually able to understand what was going on.

Other than that though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The romantic/sexual tension was just so good. I saw a specific fanart that convinced me to read this book, and I feel like that sums it up well.

I wasn’t expecting to like the characters as much as I did. Poppy has been sheltered for most of her life, but she is a fighter. There was a certain moment where she finally let go of what was holding her back and it was just such a satisfying moment to see. I also really liked a few of the side characters, specifically Poppy’s other guards.

There was a point that felt like a crossroads, where the story could have gone one of two ways. I like the direction it went, but honestly, I think I would be happy with the other way I was imagining in my head as well.

Overall, I just thought this book was a super fun time and I can’t wait to read more of the series! This is kind of the content I’ve been craving. Contemporary romance feels like not enough and fantasy with a romance sideplot is also not enough, so this was a perfect mix for me.

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