Review: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Series: Kingdom of Souls #2
Goodreads: Reaper of Souls
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: After so many years yearning for the gift of magic, Arrah has the one thing she’s always wanted—at a terrible price. Now the last surviving witchdoctor, she’s been left to pick up the shattered pieces of a family that betrayed her, a kingdom in shambles, and long-buried secrets about who she is.

Desperate not to repeat her mother’s mistakes, Arrah must return to the tribal lands to search for help from the remnants of her parents’ people. But the Demon King’s shadow looms closer than she thinks. And as Arrah struggles to unravel her connection to him, defeating him begins to seem more and more impossible—if it’s something she can bring herself to do at all.

Review:  I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks HarperVoyager.

So, when I got an email from HarperVoyager offering me an eARC of Reaper of Souls I swiftly broke my Netgalley ban so I could read it. I managed to win a physical ARC of Kingdom of Souls back in 2019 (you can read my review here), and it was a series that I definitely wanted to continue reading.

Reaper of Souls picks up pretty much where Kingdom of Souls left off, so just in case you hadn’t realised there’ll be spoilers for the first book ahead! Arrah is dealing with the fall-out after her families betrayal and attempt to free the Demon King, and with her role as the last remaining witchdoctor. In this book we also get a few other perspectives in the form of her love interest Rudjek and the Orisha Dimma’s memories, their perspectives are a great and necessary addition as Arrah and Rudjek split from each other and go on their own journeys.

This is a really solid second book in the series and I thoroughly enjoyed it even though, as with the first book, there were a few too many characters and I couldn’t keep track of them all. Reaper of Souls is twisty and covers a lot of ground in its 448 pages, and I’m still fascinated by the intricate magic system in this series. I love the fact that Barron is clearly committed to slowly building this world that Arrah lives in, and the story has such a lovely flow with some really interesting characters. Reaper of Souls struck the balance of keeping me intrigued and engaged with the characters’ journeys, without it feeling like we were hopping from one action-packed event to another.

I really loved Arrah in the previous book and that hasn’t changed at all, but I do wish she had truly taken control of her magic. She is, quite understandably, guilt-ridden over how she obtained her magic and the events of the previous book, and this means she doesn’t manage to develop into the character I was expecting to read after Kingdom of Souls. I wanted more of Arrah exploring her powers and connecting with them, but instead the magic shifts across to Rudjek’s newfound Craven power (which was definitely interesting), but I really wish Arrah had managed to shake off her guilt and take control of her gift.

All in all, Reaper of Souls is an excellent continuation of Barron’s fantasy series and doesn’t succumb to second book syndrome. It is filled to the brim with well executed twists and sumptuous world-building, and I find myself waiting, rather impatiently, for the final instalment of Arrah’s story.

Recommend: Yes, definitely! if you love fantastic fantasy world-building and interesting three-dimensional characters then this is a must-read!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

More from Nia’s Book Fort
Review: Mexican Gothic | Review: Kingdom of Souls | Review: Boy Parts

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