Tuesday, August 2, 2016

ARC Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Series:     Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Pub. Date:Aug. 2, 2016
Publisher:Sourcebooks Casablanca
Length:448 pages

I'm so happy to have a new name in fantasy romance - my favorite genre. Amanda Bouchet is off to a good start with captivating characters who have some interesting abilities and diverse family dynamics.

Catalia Fisa is on the run and in hiding from her murderous magical family. Heavily made up and hiding her power, she has been posing as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. But when she is captured by a Sintan warlord, her cover begins to unravel. Cat has some very interesting powers, some of which we have yet to see. She can absorb the magic of others and use it herself. She can divine truth from lie. And she converses with Gods. So I was definitely digging Cat's character as a kickass female lead. I didn't quite dig her immaturity, but I was able to ignore for the most part.

Griffin is Beta Sinta, which means he is second in charge of Sinta. He fought his way to the throne, deposing the former magical royal family and placing his sister on the throne (making her Alpha Sinta). Griffin is a bit of a barbarian, an alpha male war lord. These male characters are rising in popularity of late and I, for one, will never complain. Anytime I can insert Jason Momoa into the role of hero, I am happy. I do question Griffin's intelligence a bit as he has yet to figure out exactly who Cat is, when it is patently obvious. Though you have to admire his fighting abilities and determination where Cat is concerned.

The romance between Cat and Griffin was somewhat contentious. Griffin was all in - he knew he found something special in Cat, and he was attracted to her from the first. Cat's immaturity impeded most of the forward motion... she would let him get close and then put her hand up. However, the relationship seems firmly cemented by the end of the book.  I think, going forward, that the biggest obstacle may be Griffin wanting to keep Cat safe, and Cat wanting to be in the fray with Griffin and the rest of the Beta team. I am looking forward to discovering what kind of power couple they make... and if Cat truly is a Kingmaker.

The secondary characters in this story were fabulous. I always love the Greek Gods, but they really took a back seat to the circus performers and Griffin's family. Cat formed a family away from Fisa with the circus performers, and you can tell they all cared about one another. There were knife throwers, a fire breather, a color-emitting dancer, and one of Hades' lovers. Griffin's family was just as interesting. His aging warlord father had the knack of banding tribes together and a great sense of humor. I loved the close family dynamic, all the brothers and sisters were likable characters and truly cared about one another. This was so foreign to Cat, who was used to the royal family members murdering each other off.

While I really enjoyed the story in this first book, I felt like the world building needed some work. The world was really just "there" without being built. Oddly enough, we are told that Cat is a Kingmaker... but we were not told exactly what a Kingmaker is or does. I know she can divine truth from lie... but is that it? What about that makes her so special that they only see one every 200 years? I want to know how the Greek Gods fit into this fantastical realm - it was not explained and its not a common occurrence to see Greek Gods playing a part in a true fantasy realm. I also wanted to know a little more about how the magic worked... Cat could be tracked by her blood, but how? Aside from the euphoria incident, there was not a casting of spells by any of the magic users. Instead, the magic seemed to be more of an internal characteristic that was individual to each person. So I hope in the next installment we see more world building that explains how the Gods, magic and setting integrate.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Sourcebooks Casablanca in exchange for an honest review.