Review: The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Disclaimer: This review contains my own opinions regarding this book. If you loved this book and disagree with me, that’s perfectly okay! Reading is subjective, and we’re all entitled to our own opinions!

The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood And Ash Series Book 3) eBook: Armentrout,  Jennifer L.: Kindle Store

She’s been the victim and the survivor…

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.

The enemy and the warrior…

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.

A lover and heartmate…

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.

And now she will become Queen…

Let me preface this review by saying that I really, really wanted to love The Crown of Gilded Bones. After all, it’s the worst feeling in the world when you dislike a book that everyone else seems to adore.

The From Blood and Ash series has gotten so much praise within the past year, and very little criticism. I thought the first book was pretty great, and, for the most part, deserving of the hype. Then I read the second book, which was not nearly as good, but still enjoyable enough to keep me reading. Then came the third book, The Crown of Gilded Bones, which is probably the most disappointing sequel I’ve read in a long time. When I finished it last night, it literally felt like a victory, since the book was so exhausting to get through. I really struggled with it, for a number of reasons.

First of all, the pacing of the story was a total nightmare. The first 100 pages were very eventful, and I thought we were off to a good start, but then BAM! Everything went downhill. The next 400+ pages were completely and utterly pointless when it came to advancing the plot and developing the characters. In fact, I would even say that BACKWARDS character development took place, since most of the characters had me wanting to tear my hair out by the end of the book (Please note that Kieran, the only character in this book with more than half a brain cell, is exempt from that statement).

For starters, Poppy, our protagonist, suddenly became as interesting as stale bread. In the last two books, I admired her wit, daring, and boldness, but in The Crown of Gilded Bones, she just read off as a typical Mary Sue. She had virtually no flaws, and everything about her was painfully perfect. As a result, I couldn’t connect with her AT ALL, which made her inner monologue extremely difficult to read.

Casteel, too, became very bland in this novel. I’ve never been a big fan of him (mainly because he reminds me of a horny teenage boy), but at least in the previous two books, he actually had a personality. In book three, said personality was completely erased! Casteel’s only purpose was to be a hype man for Poppy by constantly praising her and reminding us readers how amazing and special she is. He had no character arc of his own, and, like Poppy, was boring to read about.

And naturally, when you combine two flat characters, you end up with a flat romance as well. In From Blood and Ash and A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire Poppy and Casteel had phenomenal chemistry, but in The Crown of Gilded Bones, I felt nothing from them. Maybe it’s because now that they’re together, there’s no romantic tension or slow-burn keeping me invested in the romance. But nevertheless, I’m disappointed.

Another thing that made this book so hard to get through was the endless info-dumping. Over the course of 600+ pages, Poppy asked a LOT of questions, and I get that questions are kind of her thing, but Jennifer L. Armentrout took it wayyyy too far in this book. Every time Poppy asked a question, 15+ pages of info-dumping would follow. I understand that Armentrout is trying to expand her world-building, but we’re three books into this series! By now, shouldn’t most of the world-building be out of the way? Plus, a lot of the new plot elements she introduced in this book completely contradicted the world-building she constructed in books one and two. It was all so confusing and impossible to keep up with.

So, with this series’ plot, characters, romance, AND world-building completely down the drain, it was a challenge for me to find any redeeming qualities in The Crown of Gilded Bones. There was really only one thing that convinced me to rate it two stars instead of one: the ending.

As much as I disliked the majority of this book, I can’t deny that the ending was epic. Probably because Queen Ileana, the villain of the story, swooped in within the last hundred pages and enchanted me with her fascinatingly wicked character arc. I’m a sucker for an interesting villain, and Ileana might just be one of my new favorites. She reminded me a lot of various other fictional villains, such as Queen Levana (The Lunar Chronicles) and Amarantha (A Court of Thorns and Roses), but there was still something so refreshing and new about her character. I owe her a big thank you for making this snooze-fest of a book a whole lot more entertaining. I really, REALLY hope we get to see more of Queen Ileana in book four of this series, especially if Poppy and Casteel continue to be such bland main characters.

However, I will confess, within those last few chapters, Poppy somehow managed to grow a spine after acting embarrassingly naive and whiny for a majority of the book. Just when I was about to give up on her character, she reclaimed the boldness and badassery she possessed in the first two books. I have a theory for why this is, but I wouldn’t be able to explain it without going into spoiler territory. But let me just say that I truly hope this confident, fiery version of Poppy is here to stay, because I can’t take another whole book of her acting like a twit. Sorry-not-sorry!

As much as I loved the ending, it didn’t make up for the 400+ pages of boredom I had to force myself through to finish this book. I think Jennifer L. Armentrout has gotten into the habit of making her books unnecessarily long, for reasons I clearly don’t understand. Does she just do it for bragging rights? I hope not. 😂

Overall, I’m so crushed that The Crown of Gilded Bones wasn’t for me. It had a strong beginning and a strong ending, but the majority of it was painfully boring, which was such a big disappointment.

Am I still going to read the next book in the series? Yes. Will I regret it? If it ends up being as boring as The Crown of Gilded Bones was, then probably. But I’ve already dedicated so much time to this series, so I feel like I owe it at least one more chance. Here’s to hoping future novels set in the From Blood and Ash world are more enjoyable than this book!

Premium Photo | Two out of five stars rating

7 thoughts on “Review: The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  1. Yolanda @ Past Midnight says:

    Nice review! I read the first two books but decided not to read the this one because I struggled so much to get through the second one. Poppy and her questions! Anyway, congrats on finishing it though – I didn’t know there were more books to come in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Octavia @ Mermaid Reads says:

      Thank you! It was definitely wise of you to drop the series since The Crown of Gilded Bones is even harder to get through than A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire! I’m definitely scared to read future books in the series, because I’m worried that they’ll be even slower!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Alexandra says:

    I’m really hoping that the next books redeem this series because Crown of Gilded Bones was such a freaking TRUDGE. Like what the actual heck HAPPENED? From Blood and Ash was the book that finally saved my reading slump a few months back but Crown of Gilded Bones almost reignited it! The middle was 100% pointless – you said it! 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    • Octavia @ Mermaid Reads says:

      I’m totally with you! I thought From Blood and Ash was such a fun adventure, but for me, it feels like the books are slowly becoming more and more boring. Here’s to hoping things pick up in book four! (That jaw dropping ending definitely has me feeling optimistic!)


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