Updated: Jan 22
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
by Jennifer L Armentrout
Published by Blue Box Press
Book 2 in the Blood and Ash Series
Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.
Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.
But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy High Fantasy Exciting
Violence Romance Emotional
New Adult HOT
Before I write this review, I feel like I need to show you the progression of emotions I have had the last few days of my life since A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire showed up on my Kindle.
I may or may not have walked into a door while reading.
I got all kinds of happy and thrilled and excited
Um, THIS. ^^^^^^^
My utter shock at the end
for the next book
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the second book in her Blood and Ash Series, and starts off essentially where we left off in From Blood and Ash, with Poppy in the hands of Casteel/Hawke, struggling with the heartbreak from Hawke's betrayal, and trying to figure out what the truth is.
This. Fucking. Book. There is NO WORDS. None. I remember her admitting (I believe on her facebook page, where she is very active with her fans), that she was not sure if she could write a good high-fantasy, and she didn't know if she would ever publish it. In all truth, she should never doubt herself. All of her books are amazing. What we have here, though, is a masterpiece. Much like From Blood and Ash, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire has an amazing story-line, constantly ramping up the action, and the relationships between everyone grow organically. Personalities are kept consistent, and best of all, the book is thrilling and unpredictable. We get so many questions answered that developed from From Blood and Ash, and, very much like Poppy, I have so many more questions for the next book.
I finished this book 24 hours ago, and I still feel like I'm in the middle of a book hangover. Just. Wow. I have been very devoted to LUX being my favorite series to date, but I think it's been bumped down to the number 2 slot. This series blows my mind.
Trying to talk about my thoughts on characters, will be a little difficult to not spoil ... so if you have already read the book, feel free to highlight the hidden text to read. If you haven't read it yet, first of all, do it now. Second of all, don't highlight the text. The surprise is half the fun.
I frigging love Poppy. I love her unyielding strength and courage. I love her passion and fiery temper. I love how aware of herself and her feelings she is. She doesn't deny the conflicting feelings she has, she just fights from letting those emotions take over. She's intelligent and funny. She refuses to be the victim, and shows an astounding amount of empathy for even those who don't trust her. She understands. She is the perfect heroine. ---------> Did anyone predict that ending? Holy fuck. I was not expecting that. I was expecting her to have a stronger bloodline, sure ... but I was not expecting that at all. I was thinking she might have been part Wolven, considering her connection with them, but I like this. This is better. I'm expecting some insane drama resulting from the reveal though. Her mother-in-law doesn't seem to be happy. <-------- I don't just love Poppy though. I also am head over heels with the dark one himself, Casteel. It's no secret on this little blog of mine that I have a thing for the anti-hero. The bad boy. Casteel/Hawke has earned his nickname, for sure. Doesn't mean I can't love the guy. -------> Sure, he kidnaps her ... but very quickly, it's her choice to stay with him. To work with him to get both of their brothers back. He gives her freedom to make her own choices, even when he is unhappy with them. He respects her, physically and emotionally. He answers her questions with no judgement, and is honest with her. <-------- He is kinda perfect himself. And Poppy and Casteel together? Um .... ------->Holy fucking hell. It's hot. I love when you can feel the tension and chemistry between two characters, and it blows me away in this book. The banter, the passionate fighting, the sex, and all the things they do before they get to that point again? The last chapters of the book are just epic. Poppy and Casteel finally being real, not "pretending," and getting married. Yes. I am all for it. The fact they get married in this book, with two more to go ... shit is going down. I know it. <-------. Perfection. Utter perfection.
We can't forget about the side characters in this book. Kieran. I'm kinda obsessed with Kieran. He adds a level of humor to everything with his personality, but obviously also takes his role as protector very seriously. Casteel and Kieran together is always fun, but -------->Poppy and Kieran? I love! There were plenty of hints in the book that a possible threesome might happen at some point, and while I usually wouldn't mind that level of smut, I just don't see it. Kieran doesn't show any interest in Poppy like that. They very much seem like a big brother enduring his curious and talkative little sister. There is a level of respect and caring that they have for one another. Plus, does anyone really think Cas is going to be okay with Poppy having sex with anyone but him? If they are heartmates (which I think they are), he won't be able to endure that. And Poppy, wouldn't either. Cas can't even feed from someone else because of his love for Poppy. Forget about sex. <--------. We get to meet some of Kieran's family, and I'm totally in love with them too. It's obvious Kieran gets his sense of humor from his father (Jasper), and I love how fierce his baby sister (Vonetta) is. ------->
I honestly was thinking that she would be bonded with Poppy at some point, but considering what we find out in the end, Poppy doesn't really need a bonded wolven, as technically, all wolven are bound to protect her. <------- And now Alistir, a newcomer to the series. When I read the first three chapters after they were released a month early, I was feeling like this guy was bad news. Then -------> after Poppy and him have their first conversation, I was thinking that Poppy might actually get a father figure back in her life. But by the end of the book, I was right back to thinking this asshole is shady. It's obvious he was behind the stoning attack. He wants the crown. He obviously pushed his daughter into a relationship with Cas to get his bloodline onto the throne, and when that didn't work, he tried to push his niece to marry Cas. Shady, shady, shady. When all is revealed, I wonder if Cas will kill him himself, or if he will let Poppy do the honors after that stoning attack.<--------.
God there is so much I can say about this book. SO FREAKING MUCH. It's been a while since I have been so emotionally attached to a book/series. A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire was just ... perfect. Masterful. You need to read this book. This series if you haven't read From Blood and Ash yet. And a special treat in this book: at the end, you get a link to read the red pearl scene (From Blood and Ash) from Hawke's perspective, and it's pretty amazing.
Cas killing Landell for his insults and threat to Poppy and
Casteel and Poppy's fight after her escape
Casteel comforting Poppy after a nightmare
Kieran explaining to Poppy that Casteel can smell her "arousal" to her mortification
Casteel and Poppy's bargain
All of Poppy's questions and Kieran's annoyance with them
Casteel announcing who he was to Lord Chaney
Poppy and Casteel's "disagreement" while riding the house, ending with Poppy elbowing Casteel in the stomach
Poppy's shock at Kieran's nakedness
Kieran explaining to Poppy that he thinks Poppy and Casteel are heartmates
The Joining talk with Alastir, and Casteel's reaction to it.
The. Freaking. Feeding. Holy gods.
Casteel teaching Poppy how to ride a horse
Poppy healing Beckett
Poppy addressing the people who are fearful and disgusted by her at dinner
Casteel and Poppy's conversation
Da dum da dum ... and what comes after <3
Kieran nudging Poppy's hand with the wedding band in his Wolven form
The carriage scene.
Reaching Atlantia and THAT ENDING
Where to Buy
Paperback (Amazon Canada)
Casteel: "Which part confuses you?"
Poppy: "It's the part where you think I would actually marry you."
Across from me, I heard the choked sound of someone trying to conceal laughter. I flicked a look at the handsome face of a tawny-brown-skinned, pale-blue-eyed wolven - a creature able to take the form of a wolf as easily as they could assume the form of a mortal.
Elijah: “As I just said, I’m with Casteel. Always, and no matter what he chooses. And if he chooses her, then we all do.”
My wide eyes followed the blur that was Casteel as he pinned Landell to the wall, his forearm pressed into the wolven’s throat.
Casteel: “I just want you to know that I’m not even particularly upset about you questioning what I intend to do. How you’ve spoken to me doesn’t bother me. I’m not insecure enough to care about the opinions of little men. If that had been all, I would’ve overlooked it. If you had stopped after the first time you referenced her, I would’ve let you walk out of here with just your overinflated sense of self-worth. But then you insulted her. You made her flinch, and then you threatened her. I will not forget that.”
Landell: “I –“
Casteel: “And I will not be able to forgive you.”
Casteel jerked his arm back, throwing something to the floor. It landed with a fleshy smack.
My lips slowly parted as I realized what the lumpy, red mass was. Oh, my gods. A heart. It was an actual heart.
Casteel: “There is no side of you that is not as beautiful as the other half. Not a single inch isn’t stunning. That was true the first time I said it to you, and it is still the truth today and tomorrow.”
Alastir: “Penellaphe? Named after the Goddess of Wisdom, Loyalty, and Duty?”
Alastir: “A fitting name for the Maiden, I imagine.”
Casteel: “You wouldn’t think that if you knew her.”
Poppy: “If you say I smell like Casteel again, I will punch you in the face. Hard.”
Kieran: “You do smell like him, but that’s not it. You smell of death.”
Poppy: “Should I fear him?”
Kieran: “He has done things some might find unforgivable. Things that would haunt your sleep and leave you with nightmares long after you wake. He may hate being called the Dark One, but he has earned that name. But he’s the one thing in all the kingdoms that you, and only you, never have to fear.”
Poppy: “Dammit. I’m not going back to the keep. You will have to force me, and I will not make it easy for you. I will fight you.”
Casteel: “If you’re looking for a fight … You’ll fight me, Princess.”
Casteel: "I suppose I will need to add lock picking to the ever-growing list of attributes. But what a very un-Maiden-like talent to have. Then again, I shouldn't be that surprised. You have many un-Maiden-like talents, don't you?"
Casteel: "No one, and I mean no one, speaks of you like that. Threatens you and lives."
Casteel: "This reminds me of the stables. You were just as violent then as you are now."
His weight and the heat of his body against my back and the iciness of the snow at my front was a shock to my senses, stunning me.
Casteel: "Most wouldn't find that such an attractive quality. But ..."
His mouth brushing my jaw, followed by the graze of his sharp teeth, sending an illicit thrill through me.
Casteel: "I'm not most people."
Poppy: "I don't like anything about you."
He laughed as his lips skimmed the side of my throat
Casteel: "I love how you lie."
Casteel: "Your penchant for violence isn't anything to be ashamed of. Not with me. Haven't I told you it turns me on?"
Poppy: "One too many times."
I said, pushing off the ground against Casteel. I felt him against me for a brief moment, felt the proof of his words. The tight throbbing response to the knowledge made me question my sanity.
Casteel hadn't expected the move, and he slipped to the side - or maybe he was just humoring me. Probably the latter. Either way, I scrambled to my knees and turned on him, throwing a wild punch.
Casteel caught my hand.
Casteel: "Then I guess it would be repetitive of me to tell you how much you're turning me on now?"
Poppy: "That and how incredibly disturbing it is."
He smiled up at me, his eyes twin golden flames.
Casteel: "I do so prefer hand-to-hand combat with you."
he said, catching my other wrist when I swung my fist down.
Casteel: "I like how close it brings us, Princess."
I shrieked my frustration - my irritation - at him. At myself.
Poppy: "There is something so wrong with you!"
Casteel: "Probably, but you know what? That's the part you like the most."
Casteel: "If I'd known those marks were bites, I would've realized what you were right away."
Poppy: "Yeah, well ... Would that have changed anything?"
Casteel: "No, Poppy. You being mortal or half-Atlantian wouldn't have changed what was already happening."
Poppy: "I'll try to escape again."
Casteel: "I figured as much."
Poppy: "I'm not going to stop fighting you."
Casteel: "I wouldn't want you to."
He looked up, one eyebrow raised.
Kieran: "What took you two so long? I was actually beginning to wonder if she beat you."
Casteel: "You seem real concerned sitting there."
Kieran: I was beside myself with worry."
Casteel: "You're so incredibly violent."
Poppy: "Only around you."
His lips curled into a half-grin, revealing the dimple in his right cheek.
Casteel: "Now, you know that's not true at all. But you know what is true?"
Poppy: "What? What's true?"
He smiled then, a real one.
Casteel: "It still turns me on, Princess."
Poppy: "You lie."
Casteel: "Why would I lie about something like that?"
Poppy: "Because you're a liar?"
Casteel: "Poppy, you wound me. In my heart. Again."
Poppy: "Don't whine. You'll heal. Again. Unfortunately."
Casteel: "There's a lot we need to talk about, Poppy."
Poppy: "There is. But talking doesn't require you to be shirtless."
Casteel: "Talking doesn't require any clothes at all. I can promise you that some of the most interesting conversations take place with no clothes to speak of."
Casteel: "I am Hawke. And I am Casteel. I'm not two separate people, no matter how badly you want to believe that."
Casteel: "It's considered a great honor in Atlantia to be welcomed into the bosom of the noble, ruling family. I think my mother is going to like you."
I shot to my feet.
Poppy: "We are not getting married!"
Slamming the knife down, it scored deep into the wood of the table by the bed, the handle vibrating from the impact.
Casteel: "On second thought, my mother is definitely going to like you."