Book series: Fate & Flame
A Fate of Wrath & Flame - ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
A Curse of Blood & Stone - ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Author: K.A. Tucker
In “Fate & Flame,” K.A. Tucker introduces us to Romeria, who from an early age has learned to survive in a harsh world. A gifted jewel thief, she’s managed to live comfortably even if it’s meant being at the mercy of someone more powerful. However, a fire-haired beauty forces her to exchange one master for another, and her life soon takes a 360º spin. She awakens in a different world as a different person. She is on a mission to steal a stone from a sacred garden in a kingdom known as Islor. But she is now Princess Romeria of Ybarisan—a murderer, an enemy, a betrothed. She’ll have to use her wit to avoid execution, learn new skills and face her new destiny.
I enjoyed these books more the second time I read them—I wanted to have them fresh in my mind for this review. The first time I was left feeling confused about the world and the story itself. I also felt lost among so many puzzle pieces. It seemed they were thrown in all directions without much sense. You always assume they will come together eventually. And, of course, you decide to wait for the next book to witness that.
The thing is, there are book series like “ACOTAR” by Sarah J. Maas, “The Prison Healer” by Lynette Noni, and “Blood and Ash” by Jennifer L. Armentrout, that are action packed. In them, the puzzle pieces are carefully revealed and put into place, in a way that they progressively build tension. Therefore, when you reach a climax or a turning point and some revelation or twist happens, not only you’re surprised but also feel the joy of good storytelling.
In the case of “Fate & Flame,” the story evolved much as it happened in “Kingdom of the Wicked” by Kerry Maniscalco. A lot of small details are whispered along the way. However, they don’t seem related at the time. As a consequence, you don’t know what to do with all that information. You find it difficult to draw a picture in your mind, to understand where the story might be leading you.
Imagine a jenga tower. Each block goes on top of the other. Eventually the equilibrium hangs in the balance and puf, the tower collapses. The tension is released. Now, imagine those same blocks. Instead of putting them on top of one another, you spread some in the table. You use others to build small towers. But, because they are not all contributing to building the same tower, the tension is almost nonexistent. Now, replace those blocks with puzzle pieces of a story. In the latter example, when the time comes for a major reveal, it goes unnoticed. The suspense and anticipation weren’t present to give that moment the significance it should have had. It doesn’t leave a statement behind.
Now, when you reread the series, because you have more background, you can make sense of all the subtleties while they’ve been revealed from the beginning. Nonetheless, you need to have read the two books for that knowledge to allow you to connect these dots from the start. Thanks to that, you can enjoy more the story. The pieces are already placed in your mind. So, everything makes more sense.
I still have some reservations about the world though. The story starts in New York. Then we travel to Islor, an unheard world for our protagonist Romeria, where everything she’s heard from her delusional father seems to be real. Here, we are met with elven and humans alike. There’s talk of demons and dark creatures lurking around. New York or our world is unknown for Islorians. Islor is unknown to humans of our planet Earth. How these two dimensions came to existence? How can these two merge? How humans came to co-live with fae? How is it that we have immortal characters, who’ve lived for centuries, but haven’t heard of each other? What makes some creatures choose the Earth or the other territories?
Let me give you an example. In ACOTAR, humans live separated from the fae by a wall—with some exceptions. As the story evolves, we understand the reason for the wall. We are told the different arrangements for human and fae coexistence. They are both aware of each other. Let’s use Harry Potter for a different example. Humans don’t know magic exists, and therefore assume they live in their own world, even when there are magicians hidden among them. You can use cauldrons and walls and other means to travel from London to the magic world. Even though the humans are unaware of this other dimension, magicians do know about the humans. There’s an explanation for the dynamic.
In “Fate & Flame,” there are humans in one dimension and humans in the other. Usually in stories, humans and fae don’t mingle—it might happen by choice, but not by nature as they are normally enemies. We know, however, where both species come from. They typically have both their own territories or worlds. In Islor and the rest of the territories, the humans are there as if they were born there and always have been. They weren’t kidnapped or brought there by the elven. I would have liked something more to explain how this mix came to happen. Did the fates created both species and decided to put them together in those lands? I don’t know, there’s something about the dynamics in these dimensions that don’t quite click to me yet. I need more background story, more history on these people.
All that said, we’ll have to be on watch for the third book release. I can only hope all the open loops will come to a successful closure in the next installment.
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