Title: The Crown of Gilded Bones
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult.
What’s it About: Penellaphe has just destroyed the people at the temple, bringing in a contingent of Wolven, and the Royals. She is shocked by the proclamation of Queen Eloana that she, Poppy, is the true heir to the throne of Atlantia. Casteel Da’Neer, Poppy’s husband, heart mate, and the Prince of Atlantia, attempts to make his way up to her to check if she is hurt, only to be thwarted by the Wolven, who treat him as the threat. It turns out that with her arrival, Poppy had broken the bonds between the Wolven and their bonded Atlantians, instead shifting them to her
Before anything else can take place, another group of individuals led by Alistair, the Wolven who is an advisor of the Queen and King, shoot down Casteel and Kieran, Casteel’s friend and Wolven, making it seem like the pair had died. Poppy lashes out with her powers, but is then overwhelmed due to her grief. She is kidnapped to the mountains, chained by the bones of the deities which sap her power.
During her captivity, Poppy finds out that Casteel is indeed alive and that the Captain of the Guard, Jansen, from Masadonia–where she came from–is a changeling. He was the one who took the face of Beckett, the young wolf-pup and took her to the temple right before she had been stoned and lost control of her powers. It turns out that Captain Jansen also killed Beckett in order to keep him from getting in the way of the mission. Their initial plan is to take Poppy to a town in Solis and exchange her to Queen Ileana, and they actually transfer her there.
Before they are able to make the exchange, Casteel and Kieran show up with their own Atlantian army, and destroy the captors. Poppy delivers upon her promise to kill Captain Jansen, who in turn tells her that he will keep his promise. She ends up taking a jagged arrow into her own chest. Casteel, in a fit of emotion and rage, seeing that Poppy is dying, decides to Ascend her in order to even attempt to save her life, despite it being forbidden.
Several days later, Poppy wakes up and is so thirsty for blood that she almost eats Kieran before Casteel shows up. To both of the men’s surprise, Poppy’s eyes continued to stay the same green color as they had known, indicating that she had never turned into a vampyry as expected. Neither of them know what has happened to her or what she became, but they plan to figure it out. Casteel reveals that Alistair is not dead, and that they are holding his father captive at a nearby location so that he doesn’t tell his mother what Casteel did. Shortly thereafter, they visit King Valyn, and talk to him. Like everyone else, he relaxes when he sees that Poppy is not a Vampry, and while he has his theories about what Poppy became, he doesn’t want to tell her before confirming with Queen Eloana. They agree, and free him. Later that night, Alistair is executed with the rest of the individuals with the caveat that he finds out that Poppy did indeed survive the attack.
They eventually travel to a city in Atlantia where they meet up with the King and Queen. They spend the whole first day in the city exploring, after Poppy saves the life of a girl trampled by cart–well really, brings the girl back to life. It surprises everyone, especially her, because it seems that her powers were a lot stronger than expected, ever since she’s Ascended. The following day, they meet up with the King and Queen–Valyn and Eloana–and the Queen reveals that Poppy looks like Malec, her first husband, so there is no doubt in her mind that Malec is the father, making Poppy the daughter of a diety. She eventually reveals that Malec was left in a crypt chained in the Blood Forest for a long time, but could have been revived if the Queen of Solis got to him. Eloana and Poppy take a walk on their own, and the two talk together, where the Queen reveals that they had already amassed an army ready to attack Solis, and the only way out of it is for Queen and King to stop it–making it clear that Casteel and Poppy would have to become the King and Queen if they want to stop it. Poppy is not sure if she’s ready for that, because it would mean taking away her freedom.
Just then, Vonetta arrives and tells them all that Ian, Poppy’s brother, is waiting for her in Spessa’s End and wants to talk to her. Against the King’s and Queen’s advice, Poppy and Casteel head for Spessa’s End. Upon arrival, they take some time, and assess how to set up a potential counterattack incase what they are walking into is a trap. Ian does indeed show up, and deliver the message that the Queen of Solis wants to talk to them in a fortnight at this other city that is heavily filled with Ascended. Ian then gives her a hug and tells her that she needs to seek the one of the god’s guardians for what is to come. This gives Poppy hope that Ian is still the same person inside and not just a Vampry hungry for blood.
Realizing that they will need to get to Iliseum to find the gods and get the guardians that Ian spoke of, Poppy and Casteel talk more about the possibility of taking the Crown. Poppy believes that not every Vampry is bad, because of Ian, and does not want to start a war just yet. The only way that they can avoid a war is if they take the crown, and Casteel claims that he knows she would be a phenomenal Queen, but he would not force her to take the crown if she did not want it; instead they would just find a different place to live, far away from the scene. Casteel and Poppy talk further about what their options are and the outcomes of those options, and ultimately agree to take on the Crown of Atlantia.
They return to the capital city–Eavemon–and tell King Valyn and Queen Eloana of their intentions. They agree, and after some commentary from the Council–who voiced their concerns about Poppy’s background–they get crowned that same day. The announcement is given by Willa, an Atlantia author who happens to be the same lady from the Red Pearl that Poppy encountered that night when she met Casteel for the first time. The crowds in Eavemon are excited for their new king and queen, the new ones in four hundred years.
Poppy and Casteel update the Council of what is going on with the Queen of Solis, asking to hold back the war and the armies, before the conversation with the Queen as well as their intent to go into Iliseum. Shortly thereafter, Poppy and Casteel name Kieran as their Advisor, to his surprise, though he accepts wholeheartedly. Then a group of them heads into the tunnels all the way to Iliseum, where upon entering, they have to fight off snakes and skeletons. Poppy uses her powers and kills everything at once. They then head over to the King of Gods’ temple, where Poppy touches a statue of a dragon-like creature, and the stone starts to crack, revealing a dragon just below it. Nyktos comes out and tells the dragon to watch Poppy’s friends, while he and Poppy go in and talk. Ultimately he tells her that he won’t help her, but she has everything that she needs to make things happen.
They return to the castle, and make plans on how to get into the city where they will meet the queen of Solis. During that time, Poppy meets Gianna, the wolvern that was supposedly engaged to Casteel, and they had an awkward moment before it melts away. They then carry out their plan on getting into the city–a group of three individuals would make their way into the city on horseback, while Poppy, Casteel, Kieran and another individual would make their way into the city by boat.
They arrive through the underground tunnels of the castle, thinking that they would be able to sneak in. In the tunnels, Poppy finds the old cat that she remembers from her childhood, and when she touches it, it momentarily turns into an old man, before it goes back into a cat. They then encounter a woman who tells them that they were expecting them and that they had picked up their earlier contingent, so they were not surprised to have caught them coming in through the tunnels. She almost cuts one of their throats, but Ian shows up and they take them to the room, where they get reunited with those that came before them.
Queen Ileana arrives, and tells Poppy the truth–She is her mother, not Coralena, who was her Revenant–a warrior that is incapable of dying, created out of some of the third daughters and sons of the humans, when mixed with blood of Atlantians. She shows how the Renevants are not easily murdered and come back alive after being killed. Queen Ileana reveals that her true name is Isbeth–she was Malec’s heart mate, and when he turned her, since he was a God, she became one. She then reveals that Malik–Casteel’s brother–has been alive all these years and was willingly on her side. The plan was for Poppy to marry Malik during her Ascension and then have them both take over the kingdom of Atlantia in the name of Queen Ileana. She then demands that Poppy pledge allegiance to her and settle as a Duchess in Atlantia under Ileana’s banner.
Poppy refuses, and Queen Ileana has the Revenant kill Ian in front of her. One of the Wolven in the group also gets killed when she tries to protect Poppy, and chaos ensues, in which Poppy tries to fight against Queen Ileana, but she chokes her. Casteel asks the queen to take him and spare Poppy, and then Poppy faints. When she comes to, they are outside of the castle walls, and Kieran shares the news with her that Casteel was taken prisoner on her behalf. Poppy gets angry, and starts lashing out, until she meets the Revenant on the castle walls, who tells her that it’s not the fault of the innocent that she’s hurting, but the Queen, and that the next time she should bring the “fire fury of the Gods.”
This suddenly gives Poppy the clarity she needs. She returns to the capital city, scares the crap out of the council member who continues to defy her and disrespect her, and confronts Eloana about the truth of who Isbeth is. The former Queen tells her that she didn’t know until Malec had told her the truth all those years ago when she entombed him, about what really happened with Isbeth, and when she finds out that Malik is working for the Queen of Solis, she is heartbroken.
Poppy goes into Iliseum with Kieran and speaks with the dragon-like changeling about realizing what her responsibilities are and that war cannot always be avoided. He agrees on behalf of his whole clan to help her, since she has the same bloodline as Nyktos and can boss them around. He then reveals that Malec isn’t her father, but Malec’s twin is. Poppy then connects the knowledge that the large cat that she saw imprisoned by Queen Ileana was actually her father.
They return to the city where they had met with the Queen of Solis. Poppy asked for the Kingdom of Solis to send someone worthy of receiving the Queen of Atlantia, which turned out to be the King of Solis. She kills him, cuts off his head, and hurts the Revenant that they had left behind–telling them to take the King’s head to the Queen and deliver the message that Poppy is coming for them with all the fire fury of the Gods at her back.
Verdict: The book was a great read, which is really not that surprising considering that the series has been really good so far. I love seeing how Poppy continues to develop as a character, coming to terms with the truth of who she is and what really happened in the history of their countries. I do think it’s a bit strange that she is doing it with so much grace, as I think that humans would have cracked way before that, but Poppy is no longer a human at all. I continue to love the relationship between Poppy and Casteel, seeing how they’re so supportive of each other, and basically push each other to be better versions of themselves by grounding each other. I also loved the plot and the storyline–the intricacies of the mythology around the gods as well as the locations of the mythical existence of the home of the Gods.
Overall, a great story and I cannot wait for the next book to come out!