The Series That Cured my ACOTAR Reading Slump

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I read ACOTAR right after Fourth Wing to get out of my Fourth Wing reading slump. But what ended up happening was falling into an even deeper reading slump after finishing ACOTAR. So I searched around and found A Court This Cruel and Lovely by Stacia Stark, which the first book in the Kingdom of Lies series. And let me tell you, I am so happy I found this series! So let’s chat about it. 

*This post is also 100% spoiler free. My A Kingdom This Cruel and Empty review contains some spoilers.*

Disclaimer, there are currently 4 books in the series, with 3 already published. I have not started the 3rd book yet because of the trauma I received at the ending of the 2nd book. But I do plan to read the 3rd book before the 4th book in the series is released at the end of May 2024 and finish what might be another favorite series.

There will definitely be a follow up to this post to round out the series.

Kings of Lies series in order – A Court This Cruel and Lovely, A Kingdom This Cursed and Empty, A Crown This Cold and Heavy, and A Queen This Fierce and Deadly. (Coming May 30th, 2024)

A Court This Cruel and Lovely – Summary

Goodreads / Amazon / Storygraph

So in book one we meet our main character Prisca, she lives in a small town in a world where humans are stripped of their powers after being born. But in return for their loss of power, the Gods protect them from the fae. 

A human who hides their power from the Gods is considered corrupt and is burned. 

Prisca has been harboring a dark secret and when it is discovered, she must flee. And to survive, she makes a bargain with a mercenary. The same one whose green eyes and cruel smile have taunted her, left her nearly dead. 

As Prisca grows closer with the mercenaries and learns more about then, she also begins to uncover secrets that not only threaten the safety of everyone she loves, but secrets that could tear the whole kingdom down. 

Thoughts on Book One

The beginning is pretty much the summary of the book, so I wasn’t too intrigued right off the bat but did enjoy the story once Prisca is forced to leave her small town.

The pacing was a little weird in this book, sometimes it was slow and then things would start to happen and the plot would start racing.

The world-building in this book is also super promising, we didn’t get too much and I didn’t find myself too confused or overwhelmed with what was presented.

There are so many twists and turns within this book and it really sets up the “vibes” so to speak for the rest of the series.

The characters were a bit hard to connect with, primarily because everyone is hiding something and no one really trusts anyone.

I did love the “found family” trope in this book with Prisca and the mercenaries, this book also had the “one horse trope” which I am really starting to find I enjoy.

The enemies to lovers was done quite well, it could also be labeled reluctant allies to lovers.

Prisca really evolves in this book which I appreciated, she goes from a sheltered girl dreaming of big things to actually living the life she once only dreamed about.

And Lorien, our love interest is quite a brute. He is not nearly as soft as Rhysand can be but I kind of liked that about him and he quickly grew on me as the book went on. 

Final Thoughts on Book One

There were so many kinds of magical abilities in this book. I wanted to know so much more than we were given. I also wanted to learn more about the fae and the history. Someone smarter than me could definitely pick up on the twists at the end better than me and the spice? Perfection. 🔥 As good as ACOTAR if not better.

A solid 4.5 stars out of 5 stars, I genuinely enjoyed this book. Now onto book 2!

A Kingdom This Cruel and Empty – Summary

Goodreads / Amazon /Storygraph

In this book, Prisca has learned the truth about Lorien. 

She is feeling betrayed and is trying to come to terms with her new reality. 

Because the truth of Lorien, also begins to uncover the truth about Prisca. And how her and Lorien are linked beyond what Prisca could even imagine. 

The King is also on a war path in this book and his schemes are quite dark. We travel to the fae lands and meet Lorien’s brother, as well as uncovering a lot more about Prisca’s past. 

Thoughts on Book Two 

I did struggle a bit more with this book than the first. 

The plot is still quite strong and there is so so much history to begin learning about in this book. 

This book did feel a little repetitive to the first book, especially when it came to Prisca and Lorien.

The pacing was similar to the first book with moments that were a bit slow and then something happening and the plot just taking off. 

Like I briefly mentioned earlier, that cliffhanger was a lot to deal with and I have been reading a lot of really over the top/dramatic cliffhanger endings and so this one was not appreciated. 

And if I’m being honest, the ending made me want to not pick the series back up but some time has passed and I’m ready to continue Prisca and Lorien’s story

Alongside the King’s scheming, we also get the Queen’s POV in this book and boy, what a waste of a POV. We never got any actual information.

We do get to know the side characters a lot more in this book and I did enjoy that quite a bit

Lorien’s discovery about Prisca but not wanting to tell her really rubbed me the wrong way, so I’m curious to see what he does with that information in book 3

And Prisca, Prisca, Prisca, Prisca. She had quite a bit of (in my opinion) character regression in this book and I can understand why, but it also felt sorta random. Like the revelation about Prisca almost felt out of left field

This is a big theme with the second book for me, it took a lot of the growth from the first book and just kinda tossed it out the window in the second book

So I am hoping to get back to that character growth in book 3.

Final Thoughts on Book Two

All in all this book was very entertaining. I found I really enjoyed the history and the path’s set in front of Lorien and Prisca. Together and separately. 

The self-doubt Prisca couldn’t seem to shake in this book became exhausting and the spice, while still on point, did feel a bit repetitive at time. Lorien can afford to mix things up in the bedroom if you get where I am going with that point. 

While I wouldn’t classify this book as straight up miscommunication, there is a lack of communicating about very important things which really got on my nerves by the end of the book. 

So all in all, I enjoyed the first book better but am very much looking forward to continuing the series. A Kingdom This Cursed and Empty gets a solid 4 stars out of 5 stars from me. 


The Kingdom of Lies series completely took me by surprise in the best possible way and cured my ACOTAR hangover.

If you’re in the market for a steamy, intriguing fantasy romance full of fae, magic, and deception, then this series is for you!


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