Melanie's Reviews > A Promise of Fire

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
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did not like it
bookshelves: arc, read-in-2016, romance, fantasy, magic

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, this is going to be a difficult book to review. I guess I will tell you the gist of the main story, and then I will tell you why I found this book extremely problematic.



A clairvoyant named Cat, who has a very sad and mysterious past that she ran away from, who now works at a magical circus with people she considers her true family, gets kidnapped by a warlord from one of the three kingdoms.

In Thalyria there are three kingdoms:
Fisa - North, which is where Cat ran away from.
Tarva - Middle, which is ruled by a brother with a power-hungry sister.
Sinta - South, which is where this kidnapping warlord's sister rules with his family.

The warlord's name is Griffin and he comes for Cat with a few of his men. He claims that his family will need her to rule, so she can tell them who is trustworthy and who is not. In this world there are magical people, Magoi, who normally rule, and non-magical people, Hoi Polli, who normally are slaves and servants. That is, until Griffin and his army took over Sinta. Most magical royal families want nothing to do with them, so the only plausible solution is for him to kidnap Cat and force her to work for his family, while assuring her she will have a better life there with him. He also has no idea about who Cat really is or how powerful she really is.

This book was problematic, because it really blurred the lines of consent. Just because we could see the main protagonist's inner monologue and know she was attracted to her captor, she always verbally and physically expressed she did not want to be romantically involved, but he wouldn't stop.

On top of the fact Griffin is physically abusive to Cat, and since they are attached by a "magic rope" and he's a big strong male, she would constantly fall down and express pain. They would also blatantly physically fight, trying to make the main protagonist look "feisty", and he would physically try to get her to submit multiple times. The verbal abuse was prevalently there, and just because they were both doing it does not make it okay. He also, like many abusers, would also get physical with things around the victim (punch walls, kick rocks, ect.), and one time, in a cave, it made her comply with another one of his "requests". Even one of the side characters states she complied under duress. Oh, and let's not forget that the whole starting plot of this story is that he kidnapped her.

Maybe I've read too many "girl falls in love with her captor" stories, but this was problematic and not okay, with me. It just felt very wrong, very bad, and Cat even reminds the reader that she was uprooted from her life and kidnapped constantly. She didn't have a choice with being taken, and Griffin doesn't make the rest of their "relationship" feel like a choice, either.



Regardless, this book has grey area consent that feels like rape culture and maybe it won't bother you, or maybe you'll be like me and it will completely ruin the story for you. That's the beauty of reading; everyone will read and interpret things differently, and everyone will feel differently about the same book.

Maybe if you could just forget Cat was kidnapped, pretend that she willingly left her friends and the people she considered family for Griffin and his team, then maybe you could enjoy the story. I mean, it has Greek Gods in it, so I'm sure readers that grew up with Percy Jackson and the Olympians would appreciate that. Unfortunately, I don't think this book has much plot, either, but that's because it's setting up for the rest of the series and trying to make you familiar with this world.

I also feel like I need to state two other disclaimers:
1.) This has a few very sexual scenes; this is a very adult book. The scenes didn't bother me (even if the content getting to those scenes did) and is tastefully done, but still use caution if you're going into this thinking the content is YA, because it's not (I'm looking at you A Court of Mist and Fury).
2.) I felt very weird about Cat's stance on her body. I understand most girls have problems with their body image, but she was really weird about it. At first when they call her curvy, and talk about how she can barely fit in her pants, she seems fine with it, maybe even proud. Then, throughout the book, she loses weight and it starts to feel like she was really resentful of having curves or being bigger. Her friend later tells her she should eat so she can "fatten up" and she seems appalled. This is a pretty big theme in this book, which is touched on a lot, and it feels pretty bad, I'm not going to lie.

Also, one more rant (because at this point, why the hell not?): This book series is going to be called "The Kingmaker Chronicles", which makes me actually laugh out loud, because I guess the author, or publisher, or whoever was in charge of that idea, has never heard of one of the most popular fantasy series of all time, The Kingkiller Chronicle by Pat Rothfuss. I know, I know, it's a little different, but I can't unsee it and it's just so cringey to me.



I'll be honest with you; I wish I would have DNFed this book. I knew at 50% this book was going to get a terrible rating and review from me. The only reason I finished was because I absolutely hate to DNF books I get ARCs of for review. I never want to discourage anyone from reading a book, so these reviews are always heavy on my heart. Hopefully, if you decided to give this one a shot, you will find more joy with it than I did.

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Reading Progress

July 1, 2016 – Started Reading
July 1, 2016 – Shelved
July 1, 2016 – Shelved as: arc
July 1, 2016 – Shelved as: read-in-2016
July 1, 2016 – Shelved as: romance
July 1, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
July 8, 2016 –
51.0% "This book is, so far, very abusive and problematic. All the reviews I've seen are five stars and it's making me more and more uncomfortable with every chapter. \n "
July 9, 2016 – Shelved as: magic
July 9, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 160 (160 new)


SueBee★bring me an alpha!★ Congrats and enjoy dear! xo


Melanie SueBee★bring me an alpha!★ wrote: "Congrats and enjoy dear! xo"

Thanks, beautiful! I just finished and I didn't really care for this book, but that's what I have you and Shh for - good books! <3 xo


message 3: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Masterson Great review, Melanie. I'm so sorry this was a 1 Star book. :(. <3


Melanie Jennifer wrote: "Great review, Melanie. I'm so sorry this was a 1 Star book. :(. <3"

Thank you, Jennifer! <3 And it's okay - so many books, so little time! >^.^<


message 5: by Anna (new)

Anna Great review, Mel! Also, i totally thought it was funny how it's kingmaker and there's a king killer haha. But i loved this review and feel this is 100% just<3


Melanie Anna wrote: "Great review, Mel! Also, i totally thought it was funny how it's kingmaker and there's a king killer haha. But i loved this review and feel this is 100% just<3"

Thank you so much, love. I still feel a little uneasy about posting this, but I will always be honest with how I feel. Thank you so much for your kind words. <3 xx


message 7: by Anna (new)

Anna Melanie wrote: "Anna wrote: "Great review, Mel! Also, i totally thought it was funny how it's kingmaker and there's a king killer haha. But i loved this review and feel this is 100% just

Thank you so much, love. ..."


Never feel uneasy about having a good heart<3 :)


Maria✦❋Steamy Reads Blog❋✦ Bummer, Melanie... You gave good feedback though, great review! Hope next one is better for ya!


Melanie ✤Maria✤ wrote: "Bummer, Melanie... You gave good feedback though, great review! Hope next one is better for ya!"

Thank you so much for your kind words, Maria <3.


message 10: by Rose (new) - added it

Rose So, so glad you wrote this review! I've seen other 5 star reviews and was hoping to read this but thank god I never will. This sounds like the opposite of anything I'd ever want to read. Seriously such a great review, sorry it sucked but hope your next read is better :)


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Wow, wonderful review Melanie. I didn't read this book, but from what you said I just know that it would madden me. The hero seems like an abuser to me and I can't fathom how we're supposed to see him as a love interest! Thank you for the warning.


message 12: by Book lover (new)

Book lover Great review! Sorry you didn't enjoy the book, I hope your next read will be better! :)


message 13: by Nenia (new) - added it

Nenia Campbell Helpful review, Melanie. I got this as an ARC and put it on hold because I wasn't feeling the vibe. This makes me feel a little better about that decision!


Melanie Rose wrote: "So, so glad you wrote this review! I've seen other 5 star reviews and was hoping to read this but thank god I never will. This sounds like the opposite of anything I'd ever want to read. Seriously ..."

Yeah, this book really upset me, but I never want to discourage anyone from reading something - maybe you'll like it more? Haha. But thank you so much for your kind words. You are so nice, Rose <3.


Melanie Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE) wrote: "Wow, wonderful review Melanie. I didn't read this book, but from what you said I just know that it would madden me. The hero seems like an abuser to me and I can't fathom how we're supposed to see ..."

I hate writing negative reviews for books I get ARCs of, so I had so much anxiety writing this, but your kind words make it so much better, Alienor. Thank you so very much. <3


Melanie Anna wrote: "Great review! Sorry you didn't enjoy the book, I hope your next read will be better! :)"

Thank you, Anna! I have a ASOIAF reread going on, so I have no doubts for my next book ;] haha. <3 xx


Melanie Nenia wrote: "Helpful review, Melanie. I got this as an ARC and put it on hold because I wasn't feeling the vibe. This makes me feel a little better about that decision!"

Thank you so much, Nenia. Your praise means so much to me! <3 xo


Alexia Chantel It's always hard writing a review for a book that didn't click with you but you did a great job!


Melanie Alexia Chantel wrote: "It's always hard writing a review for a book that didn't click with you but you did a great job!"

Awh, thank you so very much, Alexia! <3


Chantal ❤️ Nice review. I don't think I would be able to follow this plot.


Melanie Chantal wrote: "Nice review. I don't think I would be able to follow this plot."

Thanks, Chantal! If you ever do decided to read it, I hope it brings you more happiness! <3 xo


message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary Thanks for not glorifying an abusive relationship. I have to ask myself why people do this so frequently with books all the time so while I'm sad to see this book wasn't good, I'm glad to see that you can show others how this is wrong.


Marielle Good review, from a different point of view than mine


Marielle Oeps, that last post went wrong somehow. Just wanted to say, although I absolutely adored this book, I do love reading reviews with a different point of view. If I do a reread, I hope i'll remember your point and see how i feel about that and why it didn't (or will) bother me.


Melanie Marielle wrote: "Oeps, that last post went wrong somehow. Just wanted to say, although I absolutely adored this book, I do love reading reviews with a different point of view. If I do a reread, I hope i'll remember..."

These are my favorite comments, Marielle! I will always respect other people's opinions and be happy that they loved a book, even if I didn't! Thank you so much for your kind comment and words.<3 xo


Melanie Mary wrote: "Thanks for not glorifying an abusive relationship. I have to ask myself why people do this so frequently with books all the time so while I'm sad to see this book wasn't good, I'm glad to see that ..."

Thank you, Mary. I always try my best to read critically, because when I was younger I would completely miss unhealthy themes in books. I look back at some of my older reviews and I just cringe, haha! <3 xo


message 27: by Aniketa (new)

Aniketa Thank you. You just saved me from ANOTHER book filled with abuse. I just DNFed one of this .


Vee83 I just finished this book and the only abuse in it is child abuse. No one was raped and the heroine was granted freedom to leave later on in the book but she chose to stay. And the "fatten up" thing was not that serious, her friends were worried about her health after being starved for 6 days and were joking about her getting her curves back.


message 29: by Melanie (last edited Aug 10, 2016 03:36PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Melanie Valeen wrote: "I just finished this book and the only abuse in it is child abuse. No one was raped and the heroine was granted freedom to leave later on in the book but she chose to stay. And the "fatten up" thin..."

Your opinion is your opinion, and everyone reads and comprehends what they are reading differently.

If you actually took the time to read my review I said "this book has grey area consent that feels like rape culture." The sexual content throughout the journey in this book is VERY grey area consent. This is my opinion, and very problematic to me.

Also, look up Stockholm syndrome sometime.

Cat's problems with her body was very problematic to me, because books that talk like this are the reason so many girls are not comfortable in their own skin. Also, the body-shaming started in chapter one, way before the conclusion you are talking about.

This is my space, my opinion, and my review. Do not come into my space and tell me my feelings and review are not valid. I was very polite in this review, and I want everyone to be able to form their own opinions, but save your opinion for your review, don't undermine mine.


Melanie Stephanie wrote: "Great review.... I hope you like your next one better. :D"

Thank you so much, Stephanie <3.


message 31: by Jessica's (new)

Jessica's Totally Over The Top Book Obsession Great review hun :)


Melanie Jessica's wrote: "Great review hun :)"

Thank you so much, love! <3 xx


Chelsies Reading Escape Oh no thats depressing I cant stand controlling love interest. Its one of my biggest pet peeves and I got this book for review so I have to read it soon


Melanie Crazy4Books wrote: "Oh no thats depressing I cant stand controlling love interest. Its one of my biggest pet peeves and I got this book for review so I have to read it soon"

I hope you enjoy it much more than I did! <333


message 35: by Tas (new)

Tas I know you hate negative reviews but this one is superb! Thanks for detailing it so well; I hate abusive male protags and lack of consent, they're so often romanticized and its extremely problematic. I look forward to more of your reviews!


Melanie Tas wrote: "I know you hate negative reviews but this one is superb! Thanks for detailing it so well; I hate abusive male protags and lack of consent, they're so often romanticized and its extremely problemati..."

Thank you so much for your kind words, Tas - You have no idea how much this comment means to me. <3 xo


message 37: by Thelma (new) - added it

Thelma Thanks for this review. I got through chapter 3 and could not get past the kidnapping. It is now on my DNF shelf.


Melanie Thelma wrote: "Thanks for this review. I got through chapter 3 and could not get past the kidnapping. It is now on my DNF shelf."

You are very welcome, Thelma. I'm sorry, and I hope your next read is amazing! <3 >^.^<


message 39: by Khenta (new)

Khenta A big thank-you for the frank review. I don't like themes of kidnapping and dubious/non-consent, so even if this just got a recommendation from Nalini Singh, I probably wouldn't have liked it. Most of those 5-star reviews are misleading, IMO.


Melanie Khenta wrote: "A big thank-you for the frank review. I don't like themes of kidnapping and dubious/non-consent, so even if this just got a recommendation from Nalini Singh, I probably wouldn't have liked it. Most..."

This comment means so very much to me. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it. <3 :]


message 41: by Tonya (new)

Tonya Hodgson I really appreciate your review on a number things. First and foremost that you not only were honest about getting an ARC and you gave it an honest review! I have started to think that the line about ARC and honest aren't really. I really like how you layout what didn't work for you! So thanks for the great reviews.


Melanie Tonya wrote: "I really appreciate your review on a number things. First and foremost that you not only were honest about getting an ARC and you gave it an honest review! I have started to think that the line abo..."

Thank you so much, Tonya. Your words mean more to me than you'll ever know! I hope you have an amazing day! <3


message 43: by H (new)

H Thank you for talking about consent in relation to this book! I think many readers can gloss over that sort of thing, but it shouldn't happen. Kudos for speaking out.


Melanie Hiba wrote: "Thank you for talking about consent in relation to this book! I think many readers can gloss over that sort of thing, but it shouldn't happen. Kudos for speaking out."

Thank you, Hiba. I am definitely in the minority with my feelings on this book, so your words mean so very much to me. <3


message 45: by Anzy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anzy Varghese I want to make it clear that I am in no way a fan of Stockholm romances, but I do not agree with ur opinion about there is Stockholm syndrome, in the begining yes it was a little slow and i was not a fan of Griffin but from the beginning she was in conflict with her attraction to him. But remeber Griffin was sent to Cat by the Gods, they would not have sent her a murdering rapist aftr all she has been through, in ordr to over throw her mother's regime and be the Queen her people needs. Just saying...


Melanie Anzy wrote: "I want to make it clear that I am in no way a fan of Stockholm romances, but I do not agree with ur opinion about there is Stockholm syndrome, in the begining yes it was a little slow and i was not..."

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I will always respect someone's opinion, even if I do not agree with it. This book, for me, was just too problematic and had too much grey area that made me, personally, feel uncomfortable. But I am happy you enjoyed it! >^.^<


Fozia I just finished the book and this review is everything I have to say about the book. It really annoyed me when they ended up together.

Anzy wrote: "But remeber Griffin was sent to Cat by the Gods, they would not have sent her a murdering rapist aftr all she has been through,"

Actually Greek Gods are known for their cruelty and playing games with humans and even demigods. Lots of the myths have the Gods raping people. There's even a version where the Gods make Achilles's mortal father rape his mother (nymph) just to stifle the power of her child so I actually wouldn't put it past them to send her a rapist. Cat may be protected by Poseidon and Hades in this book but it wouldn't surprise me if that pissed of some other god in a future book.


Melanie Fozia wrote: "I just finished the book and this review is everything I have to say about the book. It really annoyed me when they ended up together.

Anzy wrote: "But remeber Griffin was sent to Cat by the Gods..."






Chelsea Drinkwater Just wanted to let you know that I completely agree with your review and I wish I would've read it but before I started this book... the whole kidnapping aspect really bothered me. And the fact that it felt like she had to keep reminding herself that she had been kidnapped in the first place? That's ridiculous.


message 50: by Neha (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neha Agarwal As someone who's read and re-read the Kingkiller chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss diligently, it never once occured to me that it was a play on that name, because the story itself is as different as they come. Also, Though I was kind of annoyed by the kidnapping part, there was no dubious consent whatsoever, atleast in the sexual sense. Anytime Cat refused Griffin, he stopped. The romance was a huge part of the book, but the fantasy elements and the very interesting storyline was enough to make me restless for more immediately, as soon as the novel finished. I sat down to read this book at night and kept reading through most of it, until four in the morning and had to check out the release date for the next novel. You're entitled to your opinion but somehow I just cannot reconcile with it.


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