Review: The Crown of Gilded Bones

I am incredibly surprised by how much I… did not enjoy this book.

So, The Crown of Gilded Bones is book three of Jennifer L. Armentrout's very popular romantic fantasy series, Blood and Ash, and I am sorely disappointed because of how much I loved the first two books, From Blood and Ash and A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire.

Being a writer and working mum, I don't often have the time to binge-read books these days. But those first two books? I had to make time; I couldn't put them down. So my anticipation and expectation for this third book were sky-high. Maybe that was part of the problem? I doubt it, though.

The book started with a bit of action and excitement. Good, we like getting straight into things. Then from about 15% to 85% of the book, nothing happened. Nothing except people sitting around giving hundreds of pages of info dump and repetitive banter that went over my head, most of which could easily have been cut. A quick browse of the reviews on Goodreads tells me I am not alone in how I feel about this book.

Unfortunately, that seems to be what happens when a bestselling author's manuscript lands on the desk of an editor–they don't do what they're supposed to do because no matter what crap they serve up to the market, the fans will eat it up. Hell, they'd make a fortune from preorders alone. I mean, the fourth book The War of Two Queens isn't even released yet and it's already got an average rating of 4.76 on Goodreads.

Just to prove I'm not talking shit about the subpar editing of this book, check out these examples that stood out for me:

“Yes,” she said, clearing her throat as her husband came forward a step. My spine stiffened as she continued staring at me. “It’s just—I’m sorry.” Her golden eyes widened as a weak smile formed.

Really? Three 'as' in a short paragraph? I'm not a great writer myself but it should be obvious that a lack of sentence variety is not good writing. Unfortunately, that repetitive overuse of 'as' happened throughout the whole book.

And how about this:

The woman before me’s smile grew as she straightened

Please.

To clarify, I'm not having a crack at Armentrout for the writing quality and choppable content. Authors write. Mistakes are bound to happen. But it's the editor's job to edit, and whoever edited this book should be fired.

Did the book improve after 85%? Ehh. Mmm. Ehh. It did get a bit more exciting. Things happened (finally!), but the things that happened aren't quite my taste.

Show spoiler
TLDR; the female lead goes from badass fighter, to princess, to queen, to deity, and now she's a god.

Were they supposed to be plot twists? If so, they weren't the mind-blowing sort, but the 'Huh, this is getting just a bit over the top now' sort.

I fully expected the story arc to end with this book. I didn't know there was going to be a fourth book until I finished reading. And now, by the end of this review I've realised that this series will have six books? Are you serious? I'm not sure if I have the patience to endure more info-dumping and repetitive banter just to see the female lead evolve into some overpowerful Queen of Gods type thing, yet I would hate to DNF halfway through a series. I have never done that before, and I am feeling very tempted to.

Completed: 3 December 2021

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

That said, the prequel A Shadow in the Ember actually sounds great so I am excited to dig into that at some point.

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