Katie's Pick: King of Flames by Kathryn Ann Kingsley
A forensic autopsy technician wakes up with a mysterious symbol tattooed on her arm and is transported to a mystical realm where she is held prisoner.
Lydia, a forensic autopsy technician is a normal twenty-eight year old living in Boston. Even though her job consists of dealing with the dead, she considers herself to be a relatively normal person. One day, she wakes up with a small, mysterious glyph tattooed on her arm. After the mark shows up on her arm, Lydia’s life is quite literally turned upside down. Normality goes straight out the window. Monsters start showing up and chasing her. Once she falls into their grasp, she is whisked away to a parallel world called Under. Thankfully, she isn’t alone in this new world. Her co-worker, and friend, Nick, also received a mysterious tattoo and is subsequently abducted. Now, Nick and Lydia, along with a few dozen people are held as prisoners by masked monsters. The world of Under is akin to a garish nightmare. The creatures are all carnivorous and magic runs wild. There is a hierarchy of six Houses in Under, ruled by two kings. Edu and Aon. The beings of Under are creatures from legends and nightmares. However, they don’t have nefarious plans for their captives. Since they are unable to add to their ranks in the traditional sense, people must be brought to Under and recreated as supernatural beings. Lydia decides she will not fall into their ranks without a fight. Her resilience catches the eyes of both kings. Unfortunately, King Edu, known as the King of Flames, sees her opposition and considers her a threat. Rather than waiting for King Edu’s hospitality to run out, Lydia plans to escape to avoid an untimely death. King Aon, the King of Shadows, has other plans for her. He takes an interest in her and wants to keep her alive. Now Lydia is caught between two ancient monsters in a nightmarish hellscape, and all she wants to do go home. But it seems fate has other plans.
I absolutely adored King of Flames. Kathryn Ann Kingsley does a phenomenal job of creating fantastical worlds and larger than life, morally complex characters. I was instantly drawn into the story. I felt as though I was being pursued by the monsters, right alongside Lydia and Nick. There’s a lot to take in about the story; garish monsters that wear masks that show their rank, carnivorous beasts, and omniscient ancient gods. Rather than unceremoniously dumping all this information onto the reader, Kathryn Ann Kingsley gently introduces the reader to the world of Under. I especially enjoyed Lydia’s deadpan humor. She’s a realistic female protagonist; she doesn’t shy away from the monsters, but she has enough sense not to try to fight them head-on. There isn’t much romance in King of Flames, but rather a hint of possible relationships further down the line. King Aon is definitely on track to be Lydia’s love interest, but King of Flames (The Masks of Under Book 1), focuses more the characters’ internal struggles and introducing the reader to the bizarre world of Under.
King of Flames (The Masks of Under Book 1) by Kathryn Ann Kingsley is available as an e-audiobook on Hoopla and Cloud Library. If you enjoy monsters, mayhem, and a dash of romance, this book is for you.
Availability: Book; eAudiobook in Hoopla
Rating: ***** Stars (I loved it)
Reviewer: Katie, Reference Librarian