The publisher, HarperCollins UK/HarperVoyager, kindly offered me an advanced reader copy (ARC) of Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron via NetGalley. Yet, this is an honest review of the book expressing my humble opinion.
Wow. Kingdom of Souls is WOW. After S. Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy, Tasha Suri’s Empire of Sand, and Swati Teerdhala’s The Tiger At Midnight, Kingdom of Souls features the most masterful, lush, and utterly immersive world-building. It captivated me from the first page, and I was constantly in awe of Rena Barron’s talent and imagination.
I also loved the character relationships. The cast was large, and it felt like every part of the book focuses on a smaller number of characters. I loved it, and Rena Barron did it exceptionally well. Every character was well developed and had their own arc. They all felt like real people. I loved how Rena Barron fleshed out each character’s relationship to Arrah. My personal favorite is Arrah’s grandmother and Sukar. I love her tenacity and his irreverent humor.
Arrah as a main character was the strong, fierce, afraid but brave heroine you can’t help but root for. I loved how she wasn’t born or raised/trained as a badass girl, and that she hadn’t had it easy with magic. It’s not something we usually see in YA fantasy, and it was so refreshing and original. She wasn’t born with aptitude in magic, but she fought for what she wanted.
The villains were also refreshing, but I can’t say much without giving spoilers, so I’ll just say that they’re awesome and new.
Rena Barron makes tropes her own and twists and turns them into one of the most original plot lines and character arcs I’ve seen in a long time. Kingdom of Souls is one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read, and I cannot wait for more books in the series but by Rena Barron herself, including her MG series.
Five stars aren’t enough for this beautiful masterpiece. I can’t recommend it enough. Kingdom of Souls is ground-breaking in all ways. Rena Barron is the next great fantasy author. Bravo, Rena.
5 stars – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Rena Barron
Publisher: HarperCollins UK/HarperVoyager