ARC REVIEW: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L Armentrout
The latest series from Armentrout is the new adult fantasy pitched as 'Game of Thrones with vampires', set in a fictional world where Poppy is awaiting her Ascension to be deemed worthy by the gods. For most of her life, she has been the Maiden with a duty to her kingdom, never to be spoken to or seen; she has led a life of isolation. When a new guard is assigned to her protection detail, he temps her with freedom and a different way of life, which threatens everything she has come to know. As dark truths begin to manifest about the kingdom, the story takes an unexpected turn as it becomes apparent that lies and deceit plague the city.
The plot twists continued to cause my heart to stop, the plotting having taken on a domino effect ever since the initial reveal in From Blood and Ash. The politics and the heinous goings-on in the kingdom are seen in the wider scope of this whole world and it's exciting uncovering further power plays.
The 'enemies to lovers' trope has always been a favourite of mine but rarely does it have the most substantial impact. A character can be rude to the heroine for a few scenes and it's somehow a shock when they eventually fall in love? Try again. Armentrout does not hold back by putting the characters through literal hell. There is real hatred between them, it's as though two antagonists are going head to head in a villain origin story. Book One does explore this to a certain extent but the sequel is where it's truly at.
The rest of this article contains spoilers for From Blood and Ash
Poppy is a fierce warrior in The Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, her confidence having grown immensely due to no longer being under the influence of the Duke and Duchess. She has become a standout heroine, her fierce nature bodes well for this intense story as each scene is uplifted by her witty and unapologetic remarks. Armentrout is a master at dialogue and the contrasting personalities of the two leads, creates the most chaotic atmosphere each time they converse. Or fight, should I say because Poppy's bloodlust for Casteel has not diminished by any means.
Casteel is a layered complex lead, his backstory becoming further apparent as we begin to understand his motives and why he has such difficulty being the calm and logical person he was known to be before certain events left him broken. For the first time, I have encountered such an intense origin story for a male lead, his purpose isn't to make snide remarks and look pretty, there's a reason for his unsavoury behaviour.
If you're interested in political intrigue and heartwrenching romance, this book is an ideal shot of adrenaline.
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A full series review (without spoilers) is up on my channel now!