What would you do if you woke up the next day with a tattoo you didn’t remember obtaining after a calm night at home? King of Flames (The Masks of Under Book One), a gripping fantasy book by Kathryn Kingsley, begins with this puzzling idea. Despite having a bad day, Lydia, a 28-year-old forensic autopsy technician and horror enthusiast, is exceptional at maintaining her composure.
The forearm tattoo comes first. Then, while Lydia is hesitating to use the v-word, a corpse with comparable marks rises during an examination. This corpse has Victorian attire, pale complexion, and fangs. It turns out that Nick, a security officer at Lydia’s place of employment, also awoke with a tattoo. A huge man wearing red armour is attempting to grab them both.
Our bewildered main protagonists are unaware that they have been chosen to take part in the Ceremony of the Fall, a ritual carried out in the shadowy realm of Under. Under is an untamed world inhabited by hedonistic carnivorous immortals who actually tattoo their power onto their skin and conceal their soul markings, which are vulnerable, under masks.
One of six houses, each with a unique colour and set of skills (for instance, the purple-clad members of the House of Words are experts in science and history, while the green House of Moons comprises shapeshifters), these unusual people belong to. We also get several entertaining monsters, such as large lizards and insect horses, but my favourite by far is the Graspling, a strange but lovable living tumbleweed with a skull in the middle.
Kingsley crafts a web of fascinating lore and people while masterfully navigating her complex world. The compassionate Lyon, also known as the Priest, who is a vampire who looks after Lydia and makes her tea, the silent warrior King Edu, who communicates with Ylena, an empath, and the terrible sadist King Aon, who rules the House of Shadows, are present.
I don’t want to give away the plot of this book, but it has a few minor issues like too many dream sequences and a propensity to conclude scenes with Lydia fainting out. An accomplished writer can write a disgusting home tattoo removal surgery scenario and also make significant comments on class through Under’s servant characters, and Kingsley’s work succeeds in both concrete details and lofty ideals. After all, what good is immortality if you have to endure a terrible existence at the base of the food chain?
About The Book
Everything about my life has been pretty normal working as a forensic autopsy technician. Until the day I woke up with a mysterious symbol tattooed on my arm. Suddenly normal no longer existed. The barrier between Earth and a world called Under, dissolved… Now I’m trapped with dozens of other people. Held prisoner by the creators of myths and legends, where the realm is ruled by two masked kings who want to turn us into creatures like them.
But even though I didn’t choose to be here, this new world manages to pull me deeper, affecting me differently than other humans. Unfortunately King Edu, also known as the King of Flames, notices this and I’m now considered a threat. If I want to survive King Edu and the dangers of Under, I need to escape. The only problem is, there’s another masked king who seems to have an interest in me. Aon, the King of Shadows, wants me here in this world, and he wants me alive. I just need to figure out why.
King Of Flames
What a bizarre and fascinating world the author has created. And I have a feeling we have only scratched the surface of the oddities that world contains. Lydia is definitely not in Kansas anymore or even on earth for that matter and things just keep getting worse for her. Plus I have a thing for dark, twisted, and mysterious bad boys so I was immediately intrigued by Aon.
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