Book: Kingdom of Souls
Author: Rena Barron
Year Published: 2019
- Plot: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Overall: 5/5
Kingdom of Souls was a tale of epic proportions set in a West African fantasy world full of magic and mystery. It was a captivating but also a very dark and heavy read that made me feel all of the emotions possible and it was so intense that at one point I just had to put the book down and process my turbulent feelings.
Arrah was born from two powerful witchdoctors but had no magic to call her own no matter how hard she tried or how much she wanted it. But when children started to go missing and an ancient evil began to resurface Arrah was prepared to make a great sacrifice to gain magical powers and protect the people she loved.
I liked Arrah’s determination and courage– even though she didn’t always make the right choices she had the best intentions at heart. It was also great to read a book about a character who wasn’t ‘the chosen one‘, who didn’t have power and glory handed to them on a plate and who had to pay a steep price for the power they desired.
Arrah didn’t quite know where she belonged and she was trapped between two worlds and cultures that both made her feel like a disappointment and I felt really bad for her as she tried so hard to live up to what she thought was expected of her. She was consumed by a need to possess magic and prove her worth, but it was ironic that when she finally achieved her goal she wished she could go back to her life without magic and appreciated all the things she didn’t before.
The other characters were all well-developed and endearing too. Rudjek was really cute and I loved his relationship with Arrah, and the whole ‘ill-fated lovers who the world has conspired against’ trope was done very well. Sukar and Essnai were also very kind, supportive friends.
I also liked how the more villainous characters like Arti or The Demon King were presented as multi-faceted characters with complex motivations. I even felt bad for Efiya, who was simply awful, because I think she was just a product of the environment and circumstances she grew up in.
Overall, Kingdom of Souls was a superb book full of rich, sprawling word building and a story that will sweep you away. It’s a book that I highly recommend and I am so excited to read it’s sequel!
Thank you to HarperVoyager UK for providing me with this gorgeous proof copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.