The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Blue Box Press
March 15, 2022
Review by Jen
Whew…The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout is a LONG book. I think it was 25 hours!! I’ve listened to every book in this series- with two more to go- and the author changed this one up a bit with dual narration. It stunned me at first when Casteel spoke and low and behold it was a real guy! After the initial shock, I did really enjoy his voice.
There’s been some controversy over this fourth book. I’ll get to that near the bottom of the review since it’s spoiler-ish.
Definitely not a standalone, you have to read the other three books in the series, and it’s helpful to read A Shadow in the Ember as well. Casteel is being held by the Blood Queen and Poppy is plotting how to rescue him. She works with the wolven, the draken, and Atlantian generals to lead them into battle for their King. Lots of action, spice, secrets revealed, angst, and the usual terrific world building that I love from JLA.
We get to really see Poppy’s strength in this book. Her courage, backbone and sheer physicality are just amazing. My heart broke for Casteel being held prisoner…again. There’s one character in particular that I loved to hate, even more than the Blood Queen! Callum, the Queen’s walking dead right hand man, is such an ass. He’s all shades of cruel, smug and vindictive. The secret behind Millicent the handmaiden adds to the intrigue! And, Casteel’s brother, Malik, plays a prominent role in the rescue. He has his own secrets, too! All and all it was a great book.
There were two things that bothered me. One, it’s just so incredibly long! I love the witty banter, the fight scenes and the bits that showed how horrific the Blood Queen is to human children. She’s a bitch. Number one enemy and deserves all the bad things that come her way. But… the book could easily be at least a few hours shorter. Because I was listening, I didn’t skip any sections. It did drag for me in spots, got repetitive and I found myself daydreaming. Next, I had a hard time keeping track of the characters, how they were related, Gods, Primals, fake gods, etc… Who is a wolven, who is just an Atlantian, who is human? Things got confusing. I wish there was a glossary of characters and a family tree included at the beginning of the book. I feel like I’m missing out on some backstories because I simply can’t keep track of it all in my head.
Now onto The Joining! Beware spoilers ahead…stop now if you don’t want to read about this part.
Ok…here we go…rant ahead…
I am SHOCKED at the outrage I’ve read in some reviews and am so glad I stayed the course to read this book. Kieran, Casteel and Poppy do perform the The Joining and it was tasteful, critical to the story, and I didn’t find it to be out of character at all. Not one bit. Have we all not read the first few books and every damn clue that this was not only coming, but that the three of them have a special relationship that is full of love, trust and loyalty?! It actually makes me mad that so many reviews early on were intensely critical and downright nasty about JLA and this part of the story. There were one stars on Goodreads from readers who said she caved to her fans and gave them what they wanted, even some crazy shit about appealing to older soccer moms? WTH??? The spoiler is that it happens, but the set up and why it happens is important and I won’t give it way. There was nothing about the scene that felt gratuitous to me, or a way to appease fans over what was right for Casteel and Poppy’s story. After reading a few terrible reviews I expected some insane story line that came out of nowhere. I was happily disappointed!
I’m excited to read book five. I may need to build my own family tree for the characters ahead of time, unless JLA reads this and grants me my wish!