Monday, October 10, 2022

All Things Halloween Review of A Curse of Blood and Stone

A Curse of Blood and Stone (Fate & Flame, # 2)

By: KA Tucker

Publication: July 12th 2022 by K.A. Tucker

485 pages

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

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Goodreads description--“I do not know how to love you and be a good king to my people.”

From jewelry thief to interloper to queen-in-waiting, Romeria flees Cirilea a traitor to all. But the yawning distance between her and Zander troubles her more than any king’s bounty on her head. While Zander may have escaped by her side, he seeks to regain his throne, and no immortal will ever welcome her as Islor’s queen. She fears it won’t be long before Zander abandons her as everyone else she’s ever loved has.

Zander sacrificed his crown to save Romeria’s life, yet he dreads what her existence means for the future of his realm. As Ybaris’s plan to destroy Islor unfurls, a more insidious threat, orchestrated by rival fates, lurks beneath the surface. He can offer his allies no honest explanation for why he protects the Ybarisan princess and takes counsel from Queen Neilina’s caster, leading those closest to doubt his wisdom—and his allegiance.

As their company aims for the Venhorn Mountains, steered by prophecy, Romeria is desperate to wield her newfound abilities to undo Princess Romeria’s treachery before the kingdom tears itself apart. But with the mortal rebellion swelling, bolstered by the gift of Ybaris’s poison, it may already be too late. From internationally bestselling author K.A. Tucker comes the second novel in her Fate and Flame series, an adult fantasy story that should be read in series order.

When I finished A Fate of Wrath & Flame I wanted to wait to pick up A Curse of Blood & Stone because 1) I'm cheap and didn't want to spend the money for it and 2) because I was behind on writing book reviews and wanted to write my review for book 1 so the stories didn't merge into each other too much. But in the end I did neither. I didn't write my review for A Fate of Wrath & Flame before starting this book, and I also ended up spending the money to purchase this one out of pocket. I was just so curious what was going to happen next. A Fate of Wrath & Flame ended with Zander and Romy on the run and officially broken up. See what I mean? How can you just stop there?

Romy is coming to terms with being a key caster which means she's extremely powerful. She's just not ever purposely done anything with her power to know how to use it. She has a journey to go on to learning about herself and that power. I said in my review for A Fate of Wrath & Flame that this series reminds me of Jennifer L Armentrout's Blood and Ash series and this book reminded me of it even more. Romy doesn't intentionally work to win over the mortals of Islor but her actions towards them wherever she goes wins over their hearts and in the end a lot of their loyalty. But she has to keep her power a secret from even those in her traveling party.

Zander is faced with the reality that his father (and himself) didn't do what they should have for the mortals of Islor. Since the elven are dependent upon the mortals to survive you would think they would treat them better, but that hasn't been the case. Fear often provokes people to behavior that wouldn't otherwise be considered and KA Tucker plays up the fear and how it turns into mob mentality in this book and series.

I've struggled with the feminist movement in so many ways. I am all for women's empowerment but does it have to be at the expense of men? I enjoy reading books about female characters that are strong and not victims but I'm seeing a trend of books where the female characters start out subject and under the power of a king and grow to be a queen that surpasses the kings they were under. I'm thinking of the Blood and Ash series I already mentioned but then there's also Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas and I'm sure many others. Maybe this is just an enthralling character arc to read about, but I was kind of looking forward to reading a story where the female character elevates the already strong male character. Like the sum of the parts are greater than the whole. And I suppose the two aren't completely separate. We haven't finished the series so I don't know how things will end. Zander is still the true king of Islor so maybe the partnership will be the true end result of the series, but I can't say I want to see every strong male become subservient to every strong female character. It's just a trend I'm noticing.

That being said, I did actually tear up over Romy's relationship with Zander when she says "Don't worry, I'm used to being a pawn." My heart just broke for her because she has truly been used over and over again for what she can do for others and not because she was wanted for who she was. Anyone would hurt over that. And it's true that in chess the queen is the most powerful piece and the king is the weakest. So maybe that's the angle KA Tucker was trying to take.

Favorite quotes:

-“I have the people of Islor to think of, and I must do what’s best for them, no matter the cost.” “And what exactly is this costing you?” His chuckle is derisive. “What hasn’t it cost me?”

-“Trust is easy enough to lose even after it is gained."

-"We’re sitting here in a room full of truths, and you’re still using me.”

-“These people see only what surrounds them in this tiny town in this mountain range. It’s all that matters. It is their whole world. They cannot see the cascading effect of their actions toward the cataclysmic ruin of Islor.”

Besides the relationship between Zander and Romy, I was most excited about Romy and Jarek. They have a ribbing banter and start out as enemies. I appreciated the slow build to their friendship. Even platonic relationships can have a enemies to friends path that makes them so enjoyable to read about.

A Curse of Blood & Stone sucked me in and spit me out. I read it so quickly and was annoyed when I had to put it down. I needed answers so badly it defied both my cheapskateness and my desire to review book 1 before starting this book so I could know what was going to happen next. If I had book 3 I would have finished it already. A Curse of Blood & Stone gets 4.5 Stars. Have you read A Curse of Blood & Stone? What did you think? Let me know!

This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.

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