Review: Amanda Bouchet’s A Promise of Fire & Breath of Fire

by | January 23, 2017

Amanda Bouchet’s A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles Book 1) (Sourcebooks Casablanca) was one of my favorite books from 2016. It had romance, action, adventure, mythology, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. i recommended it left and right to my friends, who also loved it as much as I did.

Seriously, I still love it, despite the fact Breath of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles Book 2) is such an incredibly disappointing clusterfuck.

I really hate saying that. I do. I really hate that I had to even go there and declare a book I haven’t been able to even finish because it’s that disappointing is a clusterfuck.

Now that I’ve gotten the bad news out of the way, let me discuss the good news: A Promise of fire is still totally an amazing book, which is not belittled any means by my utter disappointment in book two.

Here’s what it is about:

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

Catalia “Cat” Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

I have an absolute crush on Griffin. I won’t deny it. Griffin cracks me up every time, and he oozes Alpha male in a way few other books bring to the table. Unfortunately, what was such a promising start of a series led straight to an epic-level sequel slump.

SPOILER AHEAD

Seriously, if you can’t handle a spoiler about Breath of Fire, turn back now. Last warning.

About the Book:

SHE’S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD… 
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

“Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a warrior queen to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world—for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin risk sacrificing everything they’ve fought for. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or die trying.

The first 10% of Breath of Fire was an utter clusterfuck of unsurpassed… clusterfuckery. That’s all I can think of to express my disappointment in the first few chapters of this book. In short, if you’re studying domestic mental and emotional abuse with a side dish of borderline sexual abuse, read Breath of Fire. I have no problems with main characters fighting.

I have no problems with a couple splitting up and coming back together again.

I have no problems with people making mistakes.

I have problems with contrived explosions between characters, a complete lack of substantial characterization, forced relationships, gaslighting, emotional and mental abuse, and all of these things packaged together and attempted to be sold as ‘love.’

I don’t trigger on books often, and when I do, it’s my problem. I don’t believe in trigger warnings as a general rule, although I find they’re nice on some subjects. If I don’t like something I’m reading, I stop reading.

I’m going to put this trigger warning up for you: This shit is awful. The gaslighting is flinch worthy, the sex feels like it came from an erotica (I have nothing against eroticas or sex scenes in books, but the first 10% of a fantasy novel probably shouldn’t be dedicated to writing explicit sex and showcasing domestic non-violent abuse.) Some people may disagree with me on the non-violent abuse, as there is borderline sexual violence in the first 10% of the book. I say borderline because it involves spanking, and at one point, the one character asks for it.

However, as said character has literally *just* been the victim of gaslighting and emotional/mental manipulation, I can’t in good conscious say that the sex is completely consented to by both parties. Where do you draw the line at sex in relationships being forced or manipulated? That’s up to you. Personally, I didn’t really have THAT much of a problem with it… it’s fiction. But that said, note I used the word ‘THAT.’ I can’t say it isn’t there, because it is.

I saved Breath of Fire as a book I was so, so certain would be a good, fantastic read. I haven’t given up on it yet–and it does get a bit better after the 10% mark… but a lot of the problems remain.

Where everything was just so right about a Promise of Fire went wrong in Breath of Fire so far. I’m not done.

I’m stepping away from it, and I’ll return to it another day. But Amanda Bouchet went from “Preorder Status” to “I will see what other trusted reviewers have to say about Heart on Fire before I invest a single cent into the book.”

There are plenty who will disagree with me, but I stand by my thoughts: the first book will remain one of my favorites, but the second suffers from severe Sequel Slump Syndrome.

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