As usual this review will contain spoilers and I do not hate the author or anyone who enjoyed these two books. If you enjoyed this book – that is great, I however would like a refund.
I’m not even going to attempt to summerise these two books because I have neither the energy nor comprehension to understand what I have just read.
After reading “To Kill A Kingdom” I was looking to read some fantasy without the cringe of Lira and that other guy’s romance. I was wanting some good angst, plot and romance and I decided to give this series a go after reading a review saying it was dark.
I know realise that the “dark” aspect was not from tension, angst, stakes and character developments, but from the empty hole these books leave in your soul. Like a slow-acting poison the first book starts off promising (maybe a little flowery with the description but that’s something I can try to ignore) and with an interesting enough concept. And then just when you think that midway the annoying hint of cringeness that happens is the worst that it would get; – the ending of the first book and the entirity of the second, takes a full 180 and it becomes, excuse my language, a fucking mess.
Poppy as a character was extremely confusing. First of all the whole ‘Maiden’ thing makes no sense especially after learning the truth to the situation. Her behaviour and personality in the first book was somewhat more consistent despite being erratic at times. I found some of her naivity to be really uncomefortable when it came to her relationship with Hawke/Casteel because it felt like she was remarkably vulnerable despite the ‘strong independent woman’ message I think the author was trying to portray. Her behaviour in the second was literally insane and it made the less-believable aspects of her character in book 1 look even more jarring. Her relationship with Tawny and arguably the Duchess (I obviously did not think the Duchess was a good person but I was very much interested in her character and relationship to Poppy) which made their absence from the second book (minus the Duchess for a few pages near the end) greatly affect the way I saw her character. Tawny and Poppy’s friendship was a highlight of the first book for me and I only really realised it in the second book when Tawny was absent.
I especially hated Poppy’s inner monolouges which were annoyingly similar, albiet worse than the ones in “To Kill A Kingdom”. Poppy seemed to say the most cringe-worthy things that made me roll my eyes numerous times (especially in the second book) and it got old fast.
There was something annoying about the subtle rip-off moments that felt just that bit too like other books. The glowing of Poppy when she did her gift, the characters who were copy and pasted from other books and even the name “The Dark One” after watching Netflix’s Shadow and Bone based on a book series struck a nerve too.
Let’s talk about Hawke/Casteel/Cas. What a goddamn mess of a character. He starts off a semi-interesting, well-developed character until near the end of the book before the betrayal is revealed where he says “I’m so unworthy of you” to Poppy and I nearly vomitted in my mouth due to the cringe. Then when he betrays her as he planned all along you get the impression not that he some sort of attractive bad guy as I think was intended, but that he illogical. That’s the only word that springs to mind when I read that he was the traitor all along or whatever “huh? that’s illogical.”
At the end of the first book and the whole of the second I get horrible Rowan from the Throne of Glass series and Rhysand from the ‘A Court Of Thorns And Roses’ trilogy vibes from Casteel/Hawke. The ‘banter’ between Poppy and Casteel was agonisingly repetitive and I swear parahraphs were copied and pasted muliple times.
Casteel saying he “put the fun in disfunctional” is line that will haunt me to the day I die. When I suffle from this mortal coil – I will still cringe at the thought that this line was not cut from a fantasy new adult novel. Other moments such as “does my face look surprised?” and “random!” were words I did not want in the book and that’s only the tip of the cringe ice-berg.
Despite my harsh words there is a confession I must make. I read the first book from start to finish never so much as skimming a sentence. I had my full attention on the story as I did with th second book until one word was read that made me lose hope in humanity. It gave me Vietnam war flashbacks to ACOTAR and TOG. And that word was “Heartmates” and after that line all bets were off. I skimmed the rest grateful that I was no longer wasting another moment of my precious time on this Earth.
Anyway thank you for reading this review and I hope you have a wonderful day. Take care!