Monday 6 March 2023

Kingdom of the Feared

Right, let the mass book review begin. I know I keep apologising for being so distracted by YouTube lately, but I am still reading (and writing, but more about that later). Some of these might be speed reviews as I run to catch up.

The first book I finished in 2023 was the final instalment of the Kingdom of the Wicked series. Unusually for me, I'd put it on pre-order. I don't read a lot of series, but this one caught my attention for the feisty, unapologetically sexual female protagonist in the first book (Kingdom of the Wicked). I also really enjoyed the second instalment, Kingdom of the Cursed. But this one didn't quite do it for me.

Everything that was so original in the first book seemed to become a bit stale by the third. I'm maybe being completely unjust here, but it felt like a case of the publisher pushing the author for a conclusion the author wasn't entirely ready to tell yet. The sex seemed a bit repetitive and the plot seemed like an afterthought. 

You could join them up there, experience the power of two sins at once. Those body adornments they wear enhance every sensation. Imagine how those pearls would feel as they slid over sensitive flesh, hitting areas of pleasure inside you never dreamed of.

If you do want to explore that concept more, check out Gaijin

You can only keep readers in a state of arousal for so long, and if it's not quite doing it for them, what else you got? 

I know it's all very subjective, and I am looking at this through mature adult eyes. I'm probably not the key audience here. But the main reason I didn't love it was more to do with the character development. Again, a very personal thing, but I get a bit put out by books that turn demons into just misunderstood good guys. Beauty and the Beast syndrome - every guy can be tamed if you just take the time to get to know them properly. To me, it feels a little boring. If that's the case, why make them demons in the first place? Why not just choose any troubled misfit? I feel like, if you're going to go for the seven deadly sins, you really need to play that large. Give a genuine sense of danger and derangement. Sure, it's a YA book, but if it's mature enough to handle erotica, it can handle the rest? 

I don't know. I didn't actively dislike it, but I didn't feel it lived up to the other two books. I found some of the repeated phrases like oh, goddess above, a bit irritating by the end, just because they came up so often. The ending was quite good, I see how everything fits together, just about, and it seems to be the set-up for more books to come, but I think I've had my fill for now. I think it's very difficult on authors to write ongoing series. Often the first couple of books are crammed with fantastic ideas and a huge amount of energy, but the pressure, as with film directors and musicians, to keep pumping out the same standard as quickly as possible is too much to ask. You can either be patient and have a really outstanding book, or you can pressure a writer to keep delivering and get a lot of the same stuff over and over because they haven't had time to imagine something fresh. I'm not saying that's exactly what happened here, it just felt a bit like it might have. 

From this day forward, a curse will sweep through this land. You will forget all but your hate. Love, kindness, every good thing in your world will cease. One day that will change. When you know true happiness, I vow to take whatever you love, too.

I think it's also difficult when you include characters like Circe, who have been so totally owned by other authors, notably Madeline Miller. Once you've met her through Miller's eyes, no other representation quite fits. She was so completely and potently brought to life. 

Anyway, I still like the overall concept. The whole Kingdom of... titles and cover art are delicious. Just needed a little more plot than pleasure.

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