“Before she could even muster a scream, it overtook her. And the world was gone.”
Book review number eight is here! I have to say straight away that this book was probably one of my favourites so far for the club. (Definitely up there with The Haunting Of Hattie Hastings by Audrey Davis, which, as you’ll probably remember, I was super impressed with!) At first glance, I got the feeling this story was set a long time ago – a world full of Kings and Queens, myths and legends. I’ll be honest, that genre isn’t something I would pick up initially, but after reading King Of Flames: The Masks Of Under, a story which dips into both this and modern day, I’m confident my mind has been swayed!
Kathryn Ann Kingsley’s compelling novel follows the mysterious story of Lydia – an average girl who wakes up one day with a strange tattoo. Now, you’d think someone who likes a good laugh and a few drinks every now and then would make the mistake of getting a drunken tattoo. However, this is not the case. When her good friend Nick reveals the same mark, things begin to get even weirder. Will she ever get to the bottom of it? And what on Earth did that freakishly scary corpse want from her? (Gosh, I’m getting re-excited all over again typing this!)
The first chapter was pretty flawless – I spotted a little bit of my humour in here straight away and loved the modern day PlayStation and Blockbuster references (to name a few). Kathryn’s writing style is definitely my cup of tea. Again, it reminded me of The Haunting Of Hattie Hastings a little; a really conversational tone and scenes you can relate to.
We know the main character pretty well by the end of the first couple of chapters and this is always a crucial part of any story. You need to know whose story you’re following and have a good feel for the rest of the book as soon as possible, otherwise, you’re instantly going to turn your reader off. Obviously, I felt hooked into this book straight away – we get to know a lot about Lydia’s hobbies and interests and I feel like she’s a really likeable character. She also likes horror – surely a moving dead body shouldn’t scare her…
Multiple points of view are a great addition to any book. However, Kathryn has done something different. She’s upped the game and gone a step further to bring a really great experience to her readers. Not only has she written with multiple points of view, but multiple points of view in two completely different worlds and time frames? Now this is something I’ve never seen before! Such a unique idea. There is also a complete change of writing style which blew me away. Such an amazing skill to have, and one I am sure many authors would be jealous of – myself included!
“Bodies could sometimes move hours after death. They might twitch, but they didn’t turn their heads. They certainly didn’t open their eyes. They absolutely didn’t grab your wrist.”
The two different time frames soon meet in the middle, causing a wave of panic over Lydia and Nick. New characters are introduced; strange characters that really shouldn’t be in the present day. This only added to the mystery and suspense that had already been created, and as Lydia and Nick’s fears escalate, I was really excited to see where the next part of this creepy journey would take them. An incredibly strong way to start a book!
The uncertainty throughout the middle of the story and Lydia’s thirst for finding answers makes King Of Flames an unforgettable adventure. There’s so much secrecy in this new ‘world’ and it’s soon clear that Lydia is the bravest of the group. She needs answers – why are they hostages in this strange new place? What do these people want from them? Each page is a crucial part of the puzzle to solving the mystery and, as a reader, I really felt the pressure Lydia had on her shoulders. The description of each scene is in-depth and Kathryn delivers on this consistently throughout the book.
The Under is an immensely creepy place – a world full of monsters, but those which aren’t necessarily dangerous at first. There was a really weird creature I liked the sound of called a Graspling; a tangle of arms without a body, which had a really peculiar way of moving around. Great description here and because of this, I was able to construct this creature in my mind quite easily! I thought it sounded similar to the Huddle from the game ‘Inside’, if you’ve ever played it. (If not, look it up. It’s really creepy.)
I have to attempt to explain my joy in the tone of voice Kathryn uses. The chatty tone, which I love, is that of present day Lydia. However, when our point of view changes to a resident of the Under, Kathryn changes the voice she uses to fit that specific ‘time frame’. I hope you understand what I mean there, but having being able to write in two different writing styles is something really fresh and different. Definite bonus points from me!
“He was not the idiot that many would paint him. He did not care to ply his time to such uses that others could far more readily fulfill.”
My favourite part of the story had to be the Fall – a time where newbies of the Under were truly accepted into this new world, a place where they have to sacrifice their looks, obtain powers, dive into the unknown and be accepted into certain Houses. Very intense and scary. This was a really long chapter, but the complexity of it and the detail made it more than worth it. It’s been a while since I’ve read a scene in a book that has been so captivating – I even forgot to breathe in parts! I was THAT absorbed into the text on page, and for words to have that sort of an effect on someone is extraordinary.
As we get closer to the end of the book, we begin to question Lydia’s fate more and more. Her situation gets riskier; her chances of survival look shockingly low. Kathryn easily helps us prepare for the best and worse outcomes for the novel and, of course, what will happen to our beloved main character – someone we’ve grown really attached to throughout the book.
Just at the right moment, we meet Evie, a character who isn’t necessarily a friend all the way through the book, but one that knows Lydia’s situation and wishes to help her as much as she can. This character is instantly likeable, and it’s clear to see how much Lydia is thankful for her help and quick thinking where she needs it the most. The perfect accomplice and someone who makes Lydia see sense and direction.
We see an action packed scene in the final chapter, where Lydia and Evie try to plan their escape. We know what the monsters and characters in the Under are like and what will happen if their plans go wrong. Kathryn’s build up to this crucial moment and her description as it unfolds is utterly flawless. She managed to cature 100% of my attention and imagination, making it one unforgettable reading experience. In fact, this seemed to be a common theme throughout the whole book – constant awe!
“She kept talking to herself in her mind, trying to convince herself she was not about to die.”
Before reading King Of Flames, I did read a few other reviews out of curiosity. I think I remember one review in particular saying that the ending was really good, but I didn’t expect the cliff hanger to be SO big! Without giving away any spoilers for this, a huge event happens out of nowhere – a completely perfect ending to this book and an exciting transition into book two. I’m so excited to read the second book of the series and it is clear that the adventure is only going to get bigger, better and a whole load more awesome.
Such a great book that I’m more than happy to give 5 stars to. This one completely and utterly surprised me and really opened my eyes to genres I never thought would be my ‘thing’. Kathryn’s way of writing totally captured me and I easily sunk into this whole new world.
Thanks so much to Kathryn for submitting her awesome novel to our book club for review! You can purchase King Of Flames: Masks Of Under from Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. 📚 Follow Kathryn over on Twitter to keep up to date!
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