ARC Review // Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

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.

Thank you to HarperVoyager for sending me a proof copy!

I’ve been dying for a unique fantasy book, and Kingdom of Souls definitely fulfilled that for me. It’s been such a long time since I read a book with a magic system done in a way I’ve never seen before, in a setting that sucked me in and with characters that I could root for. Although Kingdom of Souls may initially look like your typical “female main character is the only one with no powers and has to save the world” I promise you, it is nothing like that.

This is a truly dark, gritty book, and Arrah is a strong protagonist who’s not afraid to do what she has to do for her family – and in almost every instance with her, this means injuring or weakening herself in some way. Arrah definitely runs the line of being a morally grey character; despite always doing what she sees as right, she often has to dip into darker means to do this. Her intense desire at the beginning of the book to access the magic she sees as being her birthright, compared to how she ends up acquiring and using magic, creates such a strong juxtaposition within the plot and really adds layers to her character. I also loved how everything was done for her family, her clan and her friends – it’s refreshing to read a fantasy book where the main characters parents play such a huge part in both the plot and the main character’s development and actions. As well as family featured within the book, we also see Arrah’s clans ancestors playing a part.

The plot for me had the perfect balance of action, world building and character development that I look for in a good fantasy novel. It isn’t action heavy, but there’s enough scenes to make it realistic in the situation the characters find themselves in of a paranormal war building up. A lot of scenes also happen within Arrah’s consciousness as she begins to explore the magic in her world – I found this incredibly interesting, especially the times where Arrah finds herself fighting or protecting her own mind inside her head.

Did I mention Kingdom of Souls also features a best friends to lovers romance and a female villain? Thinking about it, most of the characters in this book with any level of power are women, and I loved that.

I’m so glad this book is set to be the first in a trilogy, as not only am I really excited to read more from this world, but I can tell that this book is just the tip of the iceberg for Arrah’s story. There wasn’t a drastic cliffhanger, but enough hints were left throughout the book to keep me curious and I’m sure I’ll start to get some answers in the sequel!



9 thoughts on “ARC Review // Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

  1. Wow! This book certainly seems to break the mould of fantasy books. I adore ones that can create magic in a new way that I haven’t read before. Plus, female villain and friends-to-lovers? I’M SOLD ❤


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