Author: Amanda Bouchet
Books in series: A Promise of Fire, Breath of Fire and Heart on Fire
Rating: 4 stars
“Have I cheated death again? Hades must be allergic to me.”
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 smouldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.
Note: This is a series reviews so there will be some spoilers so please be weary if you haven’t read any of them.
I picked the first book up as I heard it was a Persephone and Hades retelling and then I proceeded to fly through the series. This story had everything I love—a travelling circus, Greek Mythology and a sweet but steamy romance.
We follow Cat, the Kingmaker, who’s disguised herself as a soothsayer. She’s hiding from the danger and destiny that being a Kingmaker contains in a circus. Until, Griffin, an ambitious warlord wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm.
Cat takes the time to teach Griffin and his family about their neighbouring kingdoms and gives a crash course in royal etiquette. The magical families of the other realms aren’t too impressed with Sinta’s new ruling family and the Power Bid is on. Cat along with Griffin and rest of the Beta Team make plans to secure Sinta and conquer the rest of the realms, starting with winning gladiatorial games.
The narrative is told in a first person from Cat’s perspective. Cat is an interesting character. She’s bitter, snarky and distrusting when we first meet her. Which mostly has to do with her horror of a childhood. She is a complex character, feels very real. Yes, she has this save-the-world destiny hanging over her head, but she works hard even goes to hell to be able to find the strength and power to achieve her destiny.
I enjoyed seeing the way her character develops. Don’t get me wrong there are some setbacks, which really is to be expected given the danger she finds herself in. It was clever to see that her power and magic was tied up with her ability to be able to accept her role as Kingmaker and learn to trust and care for others.
The romance is a slow build and does follow the Hades and Persephone trope. Yes, I can admit that at the start it is problematic. Griffin kidnaps Cat and ties her up with the magical rope so she cannot get away. But, Griffin is all kinds of swoony in a dark, brooding, Alpha-male way.
The female friendship that forms between Cat and Griffin’s sister, Jocasta, is amazing. In amidst the battles and monsters flying around, these girls still find the time be regular girls. They go shopping, talk about boys and have sleepovers. Also, Cat takes the time to teach Jocasta how to defend herself. It was refreshing to see and I think we need more these kinds of female friendships.
I love love love Griffin’s Beta team, Kato, Flynn and Carver. Yes, they may have assisted with the kidnapping, however, Cat really becomes one of them. When Kato and Flynn help rescue Cat from her nightmares, my heart exploded with sweetness. And when Kato went into the ice cave with Cat and they nearly didn’t make it out, my heart couldn’t take it. I love the brother-sister dynamic between these two.
This isn’t a standard myth retelling. Greek Gods and Monsters do lurk around all corners but Bouchet uses them to fit her the world she’s created. Persephone and Ares are the two Gods who feature heavily in the narrative. It’s interesting to see the guises these two have used and how they appear in Cat’s life. They watched over her and helped to raise her. My heart goes all gooey with how domestic it is. I adore Ares’ character and think it fits the image War God.
Also, I adored how Bouchet sprinkled through names of famous Greek characters. While the characters don’t necessarily relate to her mythological counterparts, it was a nice little signpost.
I will say the ending was disappointing, think Breaking Dawn level disappointing, but I still enjoyed the overall series. I hope that Bouchet revisits this world because there were some storylines I’d still like to explore. I need more from this world, please and thank you!