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King of Flames

By

Loved it! 😍

A forensic autopsy technician wakes up with a weird tattoo and falls into a fantasy world in Book One of the Masks of Under series.

What would you do if, after a quiet night at home, you woke up and had a tattoo you didn't remember getting? This perplexing premise starts Kathryn Kingsley's captivating fantasy novel King of Flames (The Masks of Under Book One).


Lydia, a 28-year-old forensic autopsy technician and horror aficionado, is good at keeping a level head, but she's having a horrible day. First, the forearm tattoo. Then, a corpse with similar marks gets up during an autopsy--a corpse with Victorian clothing, pale skin, and fangs, but Lydia's refusing to say the v-word. Turns out that Lydia's friend Nick, a security guard at her workplace, also woke up with a tattoo. And there's an enormous man in red armor trying to capture them both.


Unbeknownst to our confused main characters, they've been selected to participate in the Ceremony of the Fall, a ritual performed in the mysterious world of Under. Under is a wild realm populated by hedonistic carnivorous immortals, who literally show their power on their skin through tattoos and hide their vulnerable soul markings under masks. These strange beings belong to one of six houses, each with different colors and abilities (for example, the purple-clad members of the House of Words excel at science and history, while the green House of Moons contains shapeshifters). We also get some fun monsters, like big lizards and bug horses, my favorite definitely being the Grasplings--a bizarre, yet somehow endearing, living tumbleweed with a skull in its center.


Kingsley manages her elaborate world with masterful ease, weaving a web of remarkable lore and characters. There's the kind Lyon, called the Priest (he's another vampiric creature, but he watches over Lydia and makes her tea), the silent warrior King Edu (who speaks through Ylena, an empath), and the evil sadist King Aon (dark ruler of the House of Shadows).


This book has some tiny flaws, like too many dream sequences and a tendency to end scenes with Lydia passing out, but the plot is mostly so well-executed that I don't want to spoil it. Kingsley's work succeeds both in practical details and heady ideas, which is the sign of an accomplished writer; she can create a nauseating home tattoo removal surgery scene, and also pen important commentary on class through Under's servant characters. After all, what's the point of being immortal if you live a miserable life at the bottom of the food chain?

Reviewed by

Co-Founder of The Haint
Former:
Batavia Public Library Tech/Reference Assistant
Literary Agent Assistant at Barbara Braun Associates, Inc.
Personal Assistant to Marilyn Stasio at the NYTBR
Book Review Editor for KGB Bar Lit Mag
Business Manager of Columbia Journal
MFA in Fiction, Columbia U

About the author

Kat has always been a storyteller. With ten years in script-writing for performances on both the stage and for tourism, she has always been writing in one form or another. She works as Creative Director for a company that designs and builds large-scale interactive adventure games. view profile

Published on March 05, 2019

Published by Limitless Publishing

60000 words

Genre: Fantasy

Reviewed by