Review: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Series: Kingdom of Souls #1
Goodreads: Kingdom of Souls
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Book Depository
Synopsis:

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Review: I managed to win this book in a twitter competition that HarperVoyager were running and I was pretty darn excited about it! Then a few days later my request for a Netgalley arc was approved, so I guess I was doubly lucky with this one, but these things do mean that this is a review of an advanced reader copy that I received from HarperVoyager and Netgalley.

So first of all there are some trigger warnings that come with this book including violence, blood magic, abuse, ritual based self-injury, and the death of a child.
Then something I think you’ll find overwhelmingly useful, the online world guide, there’s a plethora of characters and places to track so this thing is invaluable. Now then on to my review!

Firstly, this book is first in a trilogy of books. I did not know this when I started, my bad, but I think it could certainly be read as a standalone. The story within stands on its own two feet, and Barron leaves it open for a sequel while still finishing off the central story-line. I love a first book that can pull its own weight, and I’m very excited to see where the next book will take me.

I’ll admit the book starts a little slowly as it establishes the world and characters, it took me a while to really be drawn into the narrative but by page 150 I couldn’t put it down. No spoilers, but after this point the pace of the book changes and the story becomes a high stakes, dark fantasy. Barron crams a lot into five hundred pages, and I wish more time had been taken on a few key plot points, but all in all this book is packed full of action and thrilling to read.

Arrah is a wonderfully well rounded character. She’s passionate, driven, but also insecure and desperate to prove herself. I will admit she can get a little repetitive and she definitely dwells on things, but I definitely do this constantly so who am I to judge. She felt very real, and very human which I loved. I do wish there’d been more time spent on the characters surrounding Arrah, some of which are spoilers so I won’t name names, but due to the fast pace of the book many of the characters felt underdeveloped for me.

Overall, this book is an incredibly detailed dark fantasy full of complex mythology. The Witchdoctors, blood magic, demons, and the lore surrounding them was so detailed and well thought out. Barron has written such a rich fantasy that doesn’t feel in any way like your typical young adult novel, the book is unputdownable and I cannot wait to pick up the next in the series

Recommend: Definitely. Barron has written an incredible dark fantasy that I would read over and over and still find something new to rave about.

Stars
★★★★

*More like 4.5 but we don’t do half stars in this house


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