A review by literaryweaponry
The Crown of Gilded Bones, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


“You will bow before your Queen.” Casteel eyed the Atlantian coolly. “Or you will bleed before her. It is your choice.”

Minor spoilers 

Prior to the release of The Crown of Gilded Bones I made it no secret that it was my most anticipated book of 2021. The first two books in the series, From Blood and Ashand A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, were my favorite reads of 2020 and as of this writing (April 2021) I have now read them both four times. Yes, I love them that much. So, it was logical to assume that I would continue with that feeling, or at least come close to it, in The Crown of Gilded Bones. 

Instead I found myself annoyed with this story more often then not. 

First off, let’s start with something I did enjoy. Poppy has had quite the journey in her life and much of it has been full of hardships and sacrifices. With her newfound freedom, which was annoyingly provided to her by a man, she has become a strong willed and intelligent woman. Discovering that she has amazing powers and learning how to wield them, help them grow is absolutely the best part of this book. Watching Poppy become more confident in herself even as she learns some hard truths is fantastic and I feel like Armentrout is doing a wonderful job with Poppy’s character. 

Everyone else on the other hand? Well, that is another story. 

Casteel/Hawke was a brilliant character in both Blood and Ash and Flesh and Fire. As a physically skilled warrior willing to go to great lengths to help his kingdom and those he loves it was impossible not to adore him. Add in his tortured soul back story and I was sunk. However, and there is always a however, it seemed as if all of the hard edges that made him an interesting character had flown the coup in Crown of Gilded Bones. He talks a big game but does little more than be a big softy which made him disgustingly dull. Where was the warrior we had come to know? I’m hoping he shows back up in the fourth book because this version of Casteel left much to be desired. 

While we are at it, we can’t forget Kieran. Kieran, the sharp tongued Wolven and bonded to Casteel, seemed to have dropped his personality entirely somewhere along the way. Gone were the snarky comments and robust attitude that drew readers to him. What we were left with was a sack of docile flesh and bones that just simply trotted around obeying anything Poppy had to say and being a good boy. His personality downfall probably hurt the most. 

Overall, I just wasn’t impressed with this book. I found the plot points too jumpy, the characters washed out, and even the sex scenes had become ho-hum. Will I read the next book in the series? Yes, absolutely. I enjoyed the first two books in the series too much to not give it another go but I do hope the male characters find a little of the feisty, fiery attitudes they had before.