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Kingdom of Souls

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Magic has a priceif youre 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. Theres only one thing Arrah hasnt tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdoms 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.


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Magic has a priceif youre 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. Theres only one thing Arrah hasnt tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdoms 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.

30 review for Kingdom of Souls

  1. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    I am so impressed by this book. It was a lot darker than I anticipated and the world was so rich with mythology and magic. I loved that the main character was one of the only people in this world without magic. She comes from a very powerful family, both her parents have very strong magical lineages. Instead of being the special ~one~ she was completely unspecial and had everything working against her but despite that she had ambition and hope to become something greater. This also heavily I am so impressed by this book. It was a lot darker than I anticipated and the world was so rich with mythology and magic. I loved that the main character was one of the only people in this world without magic. She comes from a very powerful family, both her parents have very strong magical lineages. Instead of being the special ~one~ she was completely unspecial and had everything working against her but despite that she had ambition and hope to become something greater. This also heavily featured a mother/daughter relationship that was unlike any I have read before and had so many layers. Every time I thought I had figured them out something new was revealed. The family dynamics in this book were very complex. The reason why it's not a full 5 stars is because the pacing was a little off at times. It is quite a long book and there were moments that dragged a bit. But overall it was such a fantastic start to a series and I can't wait to see where it goes from here!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Umairah | Sereadipity

    Plot: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 Writing: 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 Plot: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 Writing: 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary S. R.

    4.5 STARS! This is fogging SPECTACULAR 😱 Okay, I gotta be honest, the first half was boring me some, and I tried very hard to NOT give up, but the second half??? Holy shet was that unbelievable! Unique, grand, dark, terrifying, intriguing, and utterly mind-blowing are other adjectives I'd use to describe the mesmerising second half of this masterpiece. I confess, I tried very hard to give Kingdom of Souls 4.25 stars and round it down, but I just couldn't. I bleeding couldn't. Because if before 4.5 STARS! This is fogging SPECTACULAR 😱 Okay, I gotta be honest, the first half was boring me some, and I tried very hard to NOT give up, but the second half??? Holy shet was that unbelievable! Unique, grand, dark, terrifying, intriguing, and utterly mind-blowing are other adjectives I'd use to describe the mesmerising second half of this masterpiece. I confess, I tried very hard to give Kingdom of Souls 4.25 stars and round it down, but I just couldn't. I bleeding couldn't. Because if before chapter 21 (where the story changes path drastically) deserved 3 stars, after it stole all five and got an extra too. And, as you know, the middle of 3 and 6 is 4.5, so that leaves me no choice but to happily round it up to five 😁 What a tragedy. Such a shame. So while I attempt to digest this overwhelming read and write a proper review, treat yourself to some spooky and tribal-feely music HERE to get the mood, and some artwork, too:

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    Gods, demons, fluid time constructs, ruthless families, and more collide in this epic fantasy opener that deserves a seat at the table with the titans of YA fantasy. Writing: ★★★★★ World building: ★★★★★ Surprises: ★★★★ Pacing: ★★★ 1/2 Arrah is the daughter of two powerful magic users. Her father's ties to the rural tribes keep her with one foot in the old world, while her mother's political fist in the urban Kingdom keeps her with one foot in the new. This clash of cultures, magic, and sense of Gods, demons, fluid time constructs, ruthless families, and more collide in this epic fantasy opener that deserves a seat at the table with the titans of YA fantasy. Writing: ★★★★★ World building: ★★★★★ Surprises: ★★★★ Pacing: ★★★ 1/2 Arrah is the daughter of two powerful magic users. Her father's ties to the rural tribes keep her with one foot in the old world, while her mother's political fist in the urban Kingdom keeps her with one foot in the new. This clash of cultures, magic, and sense of morality was amazing—and split along the dichotomy of father versus mother, which was also interesting. Arrah isn't the "chosen one" in this fantasy—in fact, she's one of the few characters without a natural source for magic—and she finds herself in an epic conflict between gods and demons. The orishas (gods) have ruled the land for all of living memory. The Demon King and his followers were vanquished long ago, and the orishas remain in power. But then... Arrah discovers that her world isn't all that she thought it was. Her mother has her own vendetta to accomplish, and Arrah finds herself on the front line of a godly conflict that she is definitely not prepared for. But she's willing to do anything to win. Things I loved: Arrah's sense of self—her rock-solid personal identity was refreshing. The land of Kefu, where time is fluid?? So cool, so unique, it added to the myth-like feel to the story. THE WRITING—GORGEOUS. The love interest was supportive and not too involved with the plot. The sidebar chapters written from the orishas to...someone(s). Those sidebars make me want to reread this book immediately, to catch references that I missed on the first pass. The world. I loved it all, honestly. One quick spoiler favorite: (view spoiler)[HER DEMON HALF-SISTER, EFIYA?? SUCH a unique and twisted character. (hide spoiler)] Things I wished were better: The pacing—given the sheer amount of plot and time progression that occurs, Kingdom of Souls feels like more than one book that was smashed together. I would have happily read one book on the events pre-Kefu, and then another book on the events that happened after. There was DEFINITELY enough plot for more than one installment. But really, is too much plot a negative?? Blog | Instagram

  5. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    This was a deeply complex, rich and dark fantasy that had me intrigued from the very first page. 👀 I do like my epic fantasy daaaark and this definitely delves into that side of magic, with witchdoctors gone rogue and demons breaking free and strings of murders. It's not without hope, though! As Arrah, even though she's magicless, will stop at nothing to defeat this darkness. We stan a Gryffindor heroine. Let's go 😭🙌 // West-African inspired mythology I am so so here for more #ownvoices fantasy! This was a deeply complex, rich and dark fantasy that had me intrigued from the very first page. 👀 I do like my epic fantasy daaaark and this definitely delves into that side of magic, with witchdoctors gone rogue and demons breaking free and strings of murders. It's not without hope, though! As Arrah, even though she's magicless, will stop at nothing to defeat this darkness. We stan a Gryffindor heroine. Let's go 😭🙌🏻 // West-African inspired mythology I am so so here for more #ownvoices fantasy! It fiercely focuses on Arrah and her relationship with magic (aka she has none) and her mother (a powerful witchdoctor with ptsd from being tortured for years by her predecessor) and how children start to go missing and no one seems interested in looking into it. I always find fantasies overwhelmingly intense at first as you find your footing amongst the world building. I do admit this had a lot of characters and as someone who barely keeps up with a cast of 3 (shh; I suffer ok. I don't remember my 4 nieces' names) I did struggle with the characters AND the amount of gods and tribes to all keep straight. But I appreciate the complexity of this world and all the building. It felt like it was done with a lot of love and care, lots of depth. And of course there's tons of dark witchdoctory magic, rituals, trading of years for magic, and dangerous cursed shenanigans that were super intriguing to read. // plot Super super intense! It's not actiony all the time, but there's a LOT going on. It crams a lot in to the 500pgs. // characters Ok Arrah was precious and I did love her so much instantly. She strives so hard to be enough but is always found lacking by her mother, and infamous cold and powerful woman. I also loved her friendship with Rudjek. It has a bit of a Romeo x Juliet vibe, since Rudjek's father is Arrah's mother's enemy. And I really shipped them but ahh!!! Stressful ship. (view spoiler)[I also really loved the relationship Arrah had with her demon-sister. I think it needed more page time though. I loved that Arrah wanted to save her before condemn her though. And creepy powerful kids are my faaave. (hide spoiler)] Also can we take a moment for a book full of FEMALE VILLAIN!? Complex. Interesting. Epic female villains. Yesss thanks. // overall Definitely try this one if you love complex and dense worlds and dark magic. It needs time to sink in and I do plan to reread via audio at some point because I was a bit lost at the end. But it's hardcore and is full of intense and loving cultural pride, messy families, and it discusses trauma and retaliations.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rena Barron

    I'm bias, of course! This story is deeply personal to me and explores themes that have shaped my life. I hope readers enjoy it too! Now that Kingdom of Souls is officially out in the world, I want to include content warnings for those interested in reading the book. The story includes blood magic, an intentional infliction of self-injury in a ritual, challenging familial relationship, death of a child, death in battle scenes, mention of animal sacrifice (not on page), animal possession, mind I'm bias, of course! This story is deeply personal to me and explores themes that have shaped my life. I hope readers enjoy it too! Now that Kingdom of Souls is officially out in the world, I want to include content warnings for those interested in reading the book. The story includes blood magic, an intentional infliction of self-injury in a ritual, challenging familial relationship, death of a child, death in battle scenes, mention of animal sacrifice (not on page), animal possession, mind manipulation, and an act of a sexual nature that occurs when a character tricks another character while disguising their appearance. Lastly, there is a World Guide for Kingdom Of Souls which includes terms and definitions that appear in the book: http://kingdomofsoulsbook.com/guide.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    4.5**** Magic has a price- if youre willing to pay. This book had great characters, great plot and explored African mythology. This book focuses on a girl called Arrah, the non-magic daughter of powerful witch doctors... much to Arrahs disappointment. All Arrah wants is magic so that her mother will finally be proud of her for something, rather than just a disappointment. When children begin to go missing from the poorer areas of the land, Arrah seeks to get magic in order to stop the 4.5**** Magic has a price- if you’re willing to pay. This book had great characters, great plot and explored African mythology. This book focuses on a girl called Arrah, the non-magic daughter of powerful witch doctors... much to Arrah’s disappointment. All Arrah wants is magic so that her mother will finally be proud of her for something, rather than just a disappointment. When children begin to go missing from the poorer areas of the land, Arrah seeks to get magic in order to stop the disappearances and see who is behind the kidnappings. However, to gain magic there is a heavy price to pay which is painful and dark. Through exploring the kidnappings, Arrah discovers the truth which she was not expecting at all, and the consequences of this sends her whole life spiralling. This book had some twists and turns I was just not expecting at all. The magic and determination of the characters could be dark at times which just drew me into this book even more. Arrah was a great MC and her friends gave her strength and were supportive which was fantastic too. There was a slow burn romance (sort-of) but this didn’t detract from the plot at all. This book did contain a very dysfunctional and angering family dynamic (I don’t want to give too much away) but this added to the plot. It explored the lengths people will go to gain power. I loved learning about the Orisha’s and the magic system in this book. With so many twists and turns I cannot wait to see how this series continues.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    So this book apparently has not been announced yet, but it's being pitched as Wonder Woman in a West-African inspired world. also, it's about a girl with no power trying to defeat her sister with power. sign me up.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessy

    I don't really like this cover (the US one) but whatever. Still gonna read this. The UK cover though isn't that bad so that's cool. (The ARC is so much more beautiful)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aaryn Flott

    This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year! I mean look at that cover! Its delicious 🤤 Kingdom of Souls is the story of 16-year old Arrah. Despite stemming from a highly esteemed witch doctor of a father, and extremely powerful high priest of a mother, Arrah herself, possesses no inherited magical traits. Because of this, she is treated as a pariah in the magical tribal lands, and devoid of love from her own incredibly influential mother. Though she has the love of her father and her This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year! I mean look at that cover! It’s delicious 🤤 Kingdom of Souls is the story of 16-year old Arrah. Despite stemming from a highly esteemed witch doctor of a father, and extremely powerful high priest of a mother, Arrah herself, possesses no inherited magical traits. Because of this, she is treated as a pariah in the magical tribal lands, and devoid of love from her own incredibly influential mother. Though she has the love of her father and her grandmother, the Chief of Tribe Atari, Arrah craves magic more than anything. She covets power and validation, and the only way to achieve both, is through magic. However, the price for acquiring magic is steep, and unforgiving. Arrah is unwilling to let herself stoop so low, as to become a sharlington. But when her kingdom is in turmoil, and children start to go missing, and the new threat of demons arise, Arrah becomes willing to sacrifice anything. Even if that means wrecking herself in the processes and committing the ultimate taboo of blood magic. What I liked: The world building was unique and intricate and I could practically immerse myself in the tribal lands and the kingdom. The creatures, desert landscapes, and ruins were all so whimsically described. I could feel the magic of the world pulse under my skin, and I loved it. The west African themed backdrop was much appreciated and reminded me of Children of Blood and Bone which is a good thing! Arrah was an incredibly level headed and self assured protagonist. She knew what she wanted out of life, and was willing to do anything to accomplish it. I totally adored Arrah’s relationship with her father. It’s rare that we see so much interaction between parents in fantasy novels, and I love that her father was so inclusive in her life. Great representation! I also enjoyed the dynamics of the relationship between Arrah and her mother. There was a strain and complexity to their relationship, that was tangible and heartbreaking. I felt Arrah’s inferiority and anguish about not ever being good enough for her mother. The religious aspect of the book was phenomenal and I loved the Pantheon of Gods and the role they played within the story. Korre was a darling and her enigmatic personality was fun to read about. The demon king because obviously 🙄 I also loved all the plot twist despite all the whiplash it gave me. Though I did manage to guess one of them, though it didn’t ruin the story for me! Things I Disliked: The slow movement of the plot. Goodness, sometimes it dragged... Arrah’s group of friends played no real active role in the story, and served no purpose to move the plot forward. They were just added props to me, and could’ve been deleted altogether. I loved the initial villain ! She was powerful and her motives and reasonings behind her actions were realistic, however that all changed during the second half of the book. A new villain is introduced and she’s a freak cartoon character, bereft of all the complexity of the prior villain. I also could’ve done without Arrah’s obsession with her love interest, I felt no real chemistry between the two and felt they were better off as friends. Overall I loved the book and give it a solid 3.5 stars! I can’t wait to read the next installment!!! 🐍🐍🐍

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    This was billed as a YA African inspired tale but I didn't pickup on either very much. Barron has established a rich, complex fantasy world that other than having witch doctors didn't scream Africa to me. That is by no means a bad thing. I've just read enough fantasy that elements like tribes and pantheons blended in to general fantasy world building more than anything else. This was very complex and dark for a YA book. Other than the main characters being 17 to 18, I wouldn't consider this a YA This was billed as a YA African inspired tale but I didn't pickup on either very much. Barron has established a rich, complex fantasy world that other than having witch doctors didn't scream Africa to me. That is by no means a bad thing. I've just read enough fantasy that elements like tribes and pantheons blended in to general fantasy world building more than anything else. This was very complex and dark for a YA book. Other than the main characters being 17 to 18, I wouldn't consider this a YA book, but just general fantasy. (I know labeling as YA probably sells more copies.) The majority of this book is mostly world building, setting things up for the future. I did feel like the last 100 pages jumped to what could have been the end of the series. After slowly developing the world over the first half of the book, events escalate quickly. There was a huge leveling up of the characters' abilities at the end that I thought would have took place over the course of the trilogy, but Barron decided to take the book in another direction. Arrah is a young woman hoping to come into her magic. When children start disappearing, she decides to force the issue doing something drastic. This kicks off events that will change her world irrevocably. Received a review copy from Harper and Edelweiss. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.

  12. 5 out of 5

    The Artisan Geek

    ------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------ 22/2/20 Review is up on my channel! :D 22/7/19 Loved it! Review to come! :) 30/4/19 I AM HOLDING IT. I AM HOLDING IT. I AM HOLDING IT. Oh my gosh, a thousand times thank you and more to the amazing Rena for sending this book over!! I feel the mother continent calling for me you guys!!! AAAAAH :D 29/3/19 I have been hyped up about this books for days! This story line sounds so good oof! This is definitely in my top 5 most anticipated books for the rest of ------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------ 22/2/20 Review is up on my channel! :D 22/7/19 Loved it! Review to come! :) 30/4/19 I AM HOLDING IT. I AM HOLDING IT. I AM HOLDING IT. Oh my gosh, a thousand times thank you and more to the amazing Rena for sending this book over!! I feel the mother continent calling for me you guys!!! AAAAAH :D 29/3/19 I have been hyped up about this books for days! This story line sounds so good oof! This is definitely in my top 5 most anticipated books for the rest of the year!! You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aly (In Wonderland)

    Trigger Warning: Kingdom of Souls contains scenes of violence, sacrifice, blood magic and parental abuse. Proceed with caution. "For she will rise from the ashes alit in flames. For no water will ever quell her pain. For no redemption will befall her. For we will never speak her name. -- Song of the Unnamed" Nothing I will ever write will give you an idea of how truly wonderfully written and amazing Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron is. I was lucky enough to be part of the traveling book initiative Trigger Warning: Kingdom of Souls contains scenes of violence, sacrifice, blood magic and parental abuse. Proceed with caution. "For she will rise from the ashes alit in flames. For no water will ever quell her pain. For no redemption will befall her. For we will never speak her name. -- Song of the Unnamed" Nothing I will ever write will give you an idea of how truly wonderfully written and amazing Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron is. I was lucky enough to be part of the “traveling book initiative” in which a single ARC was sent from hand-to-hand in order for readers to join in on the KOS hype train before release. If it hadn’t been for work and other daily annoyances, I would have finished this book a lot faster than the three days it took me. But when I did finish it, at 11 o’clock at night with The Big Bang Theory playing quietly in the background, I couldn’t help thinking I could never read another fantasy novel the same way again. I clutched this book to my chest for an hour, wanting to scream about it from the rooftops but not finding the words to describe how desperately you all need this novel in your lives. Coming from a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah can’t wait for the day her own magic presents itself. But after failure after failure in calling for her own powers every year, Arrah is willing to try one last thing: trade her own life years for magic. When the kingdom’s children begin to disappear, Arrah is desperate to find the culprit using her own powers. Alongside friends, she makes powerful sacrifices and takes a dangerous journey in discovering who she is and what she was born to do. I’m gonna say this now: this book would not have been this fantastic if it had been written by a white woman. Barron threads her own experiences and history into the story, weaving a web that does not fail to capture its audience. Arrah is steadfast and headstrong, determined to make a difference in the world and I felt that right in the core of my being. Who doesn’t want to make a name for themselves? Who feels like they’re failing when they don’t seem to be moving forward? I know I do. Not only are the characters so well-developed that they leap off the page, but the kingdom itself is pure magic. The writing brims with power as Barron describes the city Arrah lives in; the marketplace she visits; the tight family bond she has with her father. It’s impossible to not fall in love with the world built upon the pages of Kingdom of Souls. Make no mistake, though. Kingdom of Souls is not an easy book to read. There’s blood and violence (a lot of the magic relies heavily on blood magic) and a lot of dark topics are explored that may make you uneasy, so please proceed with caution. Preorder this book. Rave about it. Buy it for your mum and your grandparents. Buy it for your dad and your uncles. Buy it for your colleagues, your new date, your best friend who doesn’t really read much. There’s a little something for everyone in Kingdom of Souls, and it should not (CANNOT) pass under the radar.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    I dont really know where to begin with this review. There was so much about Kingdom of Souls that I loved. I adored the world building, the rich mythology and learning how magic works in Arrahs world, yet at the same time I was introduced to so many characters, tribes and gods that I found it difficult to keep track of them. Enter my cheat guide. I had no idea who or what was going to be important later on and I was so overwhelmed in the beginning (up to about 20%) that I found myself frantically I don’t really know where to begin with this review. There was so much about Kingdom of Souls that I loved. I adored the world building, the rich mythology and learning how magic works in Arrah’s world, yet at the same time I was introduced to so many characters, tribes and gods that I found it difficult to keep track of them. Enter my cheat guide. I had no idea who or what was going to be important later on and I was so overwhelmed in the beginning (up to about 20%) that I found myself frantically making notes about practically everyone. I’ve included these notes in this review mostly for my benefit in case I need a refresher course prior to embarking upon the second book but if they help you in any way, you’re welcome. I’ve marked them as spoilers because I mention some characters that don’t even appear in this story until near the end. I’ve tried to avoid spoilery type info dumps here but please still be aware that you may read something in there you don’t want to know yet. (view spoiler)[ Arrah’s Family * Arti - mother, from the Mulani tribe, “Ka-Priestess of the Kingdom” * Oshe - father, from the Aatiri tribe, has a store in the West Market * Efia - sister Arrah’s Family’s Staff * Nezi - porter, has burnt hands and a limp * Ty - matron, does the cooking, doesn’t speak to anyone, has “episodes” * Terra - has only been on staff for 2 years, does the rest of the chores, Arrah’s age, gossips Arrah’s Friends * Hassana - female, beautiful, Aatiri * Rudjek - male, smells of lilac and woodsmoke * Sukar - male, tattoos on his forearms and shaved head glow when the magic is there or he’s near someone with the gift, Zu Rudjek’s Family * Serre - mother, daughter of the North, her country is Delene * Suran Omari - father, Vizier * Uran - older brother, whose mind was broken during the Rite of Passage * Jemi - older brother, whose mind was broken during the Rite of Passage, killed a merchant * Crown Prince Kelechi - brother, two years older than Rudjek * Second Son Narmer - brother, Arrah’s age (16) Rudjek’s Attendants * Majka - best friend, gendar, parents are commanders under the Master of Arms, 17 * Kira - 17, father is the Master of Scribes Kingdom Hierarchy * Almighty One - the most powerful position, held by Dereje, who was best friends with Suran before he rose to the throne * Vizier - second most powerful position, held by Suran Omari, “governs the Kingdom” * Ka-Priestess - the third most powerful position, held by Arti, “the voice of the orishas” The Vizier’s Guildmasters * Master of Arms - Rudjek’s aunt and the Vizier’s twin sister, General Solar, “leads the military forces of the Kingdom: the gendars, the guardsmen, and the shotani.” * Master of Scribes - Ny (Kira’s father) * Master of Scholars * Master of Laborers * Artisan’s guild - Guildmaster Ohakim Shotani - elite assassins, have some magic, live in the Kingdom Crests - show rank or position * Omari - lion’s head * Sukkara (the royal family) - ram, “symbol of their blood connection to the sun orisha, Re’Mec” Some of the Locations * Tamar - where Arrah, Rudjek and their families live * East Market - in Tamar, Kofi (Arrah’s friend) works there, charlatans are also there * West Market - in Tamar, Oshe’s store is there * Kefu - time works differently there Tribes of Heka - Heka gives magic to the tribes * Aatiri - “do not walk or leap, for clouds of magic carry them. Grandmother’s silver locs coil on top of her head like a crown, and she wears a half dozen necklaces of teeth. The Aatiri are tall and lean with prominent cheekbones and wiry hair braided like mine.” Arrah’s grandmother, Malikah, is the Aatiri chieftain. Malikah’s grandmother was Yaaba. Other ancestors are Machie and Ara. * Kes - the smallest tribe. Their lands “border the valley to the northwest. Their diaphanous skin and near-colorless eyes remind me of the Northern people.” “lightning cuts across the sky and sparks dance on their skin” * Litho - “lies southwest of the Temple of Heka in the woodlands. White dust covers their bodies and vests of rawhide.” “The ground shifts beneath their feet, moving as gentle as ocean waves” * Mulani - “live the closest to the Temple of Heka.” “It was a Mulani woman Heka revealed his presence to when he first descended from the stars a thousand years ago. Now the Mulani chieftain serves as his voice. The position would belong to my mother had she not left and never looked back.” - their witchdoctors are all women. “They have broad shoulders, curvy bodies, and skin ranging from deep brown to alabaster.” The Mulani Chieftain is Arti’s first cousin * Zu - “from the mountains south of the Temple” “leap above our heads, their feet supported by air. Tattoos cover their bodies and they wear crowns of antlers”, the Zu seer is Barasa Orishas - worshipped in the Kingdom, they have human and animal aspects * Esi - the sky god * Fayouma - the mother of beast and fowl * Fram - the balancer of life and death * Kekiyé - orisha of gratitude * Kiva - protector of children and innocence * Koré - moon orisha - female, twin god * Mouran - master of the sea * Nana - god that shaped the earth * Oma - orisha of dreams * Re’Mec - sun orisha - male, twin god * Sisi - guardian of fire * Ugeniou - the harvester * Unnamed - cobras around each of her arms * Yookulu - weaver of seasons Cravens * Fadi - the group’s leader, male, excels at shifting * Juhanah - female - group’s best tracker * Lumo - Mensah’s twin, group’s best healer * Mensah - Lumo’s twin, group’s best fighter * Riham - female, shortest of the group, “can bend space and manipulate her environment” Demons * Dayo - Demon King * Merka - possesses a cat before they possess a fisherman Familiars - shadowy, shapeless and ever changing. They can only be seen by people with tribal blood. They’re believed to be relics of people destroyed by demons. “Wherever the Familiars go, death soon follows.” (hide spoiler)] I think it was because I was so bogged down in my note taking that I managed to entirely bypass the whole ‘connecting with any of the characters’ experience. One character that I thought I would form a connection with early on died soon thereafter and the villain I was hoping to cheer on didn’t make much of an impact on me. Had I found the guide on the book’s website before I read this book instead of after, my reading experience may have been vastly different. I learned things from this guide that I missed entirely when I read the book. However, considering a couple of the characters illustrated on the cast page don’t exist in the first book, perhaps some of the guide also relates to later books in the series. Impacts of trauma play out in various ways with multiple characters, which I found very interesting. Although it’s not mentioned by name it’s almost certain a few characters could be diagnosed with PTSD. The violation involved in the (view spoiler)[mind manipulation (hide spoiler)] wasn’t that dissimilar to survivors’ experiences of sexual assault. Some of Arrah’s thought patterns were quite repetitive. Hearing about how much of a disappointment she was to her mother and how she had longed to have magic her entire life provided me with sufficient underdog fuel to want her to succeed initially, but the amount of times she lamented both began to annoy me as the story progressed. Although I witnessed plenty of action, with fight scenes, destruction and all round mayhem, it also felt like I spent a good portion of this book waiting around with Arrah for the next sequence of events to begin to unfold. The ending was quite abrupt and left a ton of unanswered questions, which will hopefully be addressed in the next two books (yep, I found out after I started reading that this is the first book of a trilogy). However, I’m not entirely sure if I’ll still be as eager to know some of the answers, like what two of the characters were whispering about, by the time the second book is released. If I reread this book I would spend less time focusing on the minutiae and try instead to form meaningful connections with the main characters. It felt like Arrah’s world was real and this is why I’ve given this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ instead of ⭐️⭐️⭐️. Had I been emotionally invested in Arrah’s journey this could have been a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book for me. Content warnings include (view spoiler)[abusive and neglectful parents, animal possession, blood magic, death by suicide, death of children and mind manipulation (hide spoiler)] . Thank you so much to NetGalley and HarperVoyager, an imprint of HarperCollins UK, for granting my wish to read this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Stewart (yerabooknerdzoe)

    I'm thinking this is more of a 3.5 for me. I listened to the audiobook for quite a bit of it, but I much preferred the physical copy. One of the main reasons this isn't a higher rating for me is the romance. At first, it seemed like it wouldn't be such a huge part of the book. However, unfortunately, it really took over. I understood why when I finished, but still, the endless descriptions of his eyes, his lips, the deep timbre of his voice, etc. could've really been done less frequently. (view I'm thinking this is more of a 3.5 for me. I listened to the audiobook for quite a bit of it, but I much preferred the physical copy. One of the main reasons this isn't a higher rating for me is the romance. At first, it seemed like it wouldn't be such a huge part of the book. However, unfortunately, it really took over. I understood why when I finished, but still, the endless descriptions of his eyes, his lips, the deep timbre of his voice, etc. could've really been done less frequently. (view spoiler)[ The setup for a love triangle really pissed me off too. I'M OVER THE LOVE TRIANGLE THAT IS ACTUALLY A V. WE DON'T NEED THOSE ANYMORE. If Rudjek falls in love with the Demon King (or vice versa) I'll be very pleased. Otherwise, I'm over it. (hide spoiler)] I thought it would be a great break from how disappointing YA fantasy has become, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. While I loved the world, I think it could've been more fleshed out, if we weren't so focused on how fucking hot Rudjek is. (Also, I didn't 100% love the characters as much as I was supposed to.) Some of the plot was extremely predictable, but I was pleasantly surprised by other parts. Overall, I'm looking forward to the next book, and to see how it improves upon this one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    16-year-old Arrah is the daughter of powerful Witchdoctors. But she doesnt have the magic that her parents have, and she so desperately wants it and the approval of her mother. That she does everything she can to get it. She loves her dad dearly and closer that her mother. When children start to missing Arrah finds out that its her mother who is responsible, trying to summon a Demonic king. So Arrah performs a ritual to get magic so she can stop her mother. But it takes years off her. Kingdom of 16-year-old Arrah is the daughter of powerful Witchdoctors. But she doesn’t have the magic that her parents have, and she so desperately wants it and the approval of her mother. That she does everything she can to get it. She loves her dad dearly and closer that her mother. When children start to missing Arrah finds out that it’s her mother who is responsible, trying to summon a Demonic king. So Arrah performs a ritual to get magic so she can stop her mother. But it takes years off her. Kingdom of Souls is a unique fantasy tale of Witchdoctors, magic, demons, gods in a world of an African setting. It had great characters especially Arrah who trying to get approval from her mother and yet going against her trying to get rid of the demon king. I thought it was beautifully written and I really enjoyed it until I got a bit confused of what was happening at the end. 4 stars from me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

    Arrah has been desperate for a whisper of magic all her life, as she was born to two of the most powerful witchdoctors of their generation. When her loved ones and city are put in danger, and magic still refuses to answer her call, Arrah must seek out other ways to make the magic do her bidding. But is she willing to pay the price? I was lucky enough to be chosen for the cross-country travelling ARC initiative, and even though the book wasnt for me I absolutely support the idea! This one ARC is Arrah has been desperate for a whisper of magic all her life, as she was born to two of the most powerful witchdoctors of their generation. When her loved ones and city are put in danger, and magic still refuses to answer her call, Arrah must seek out other ways to make the magic do her bidding. But is she willing to pay the price? I was lucky enough to be chosen for the cross-country travelling ARC initiative, and even though the book wasn’t for me I absolutely support the idea! This one ARC is giving so many teen and POC reviewers the chance to read and review the ARC early without requiring a large following or hundreds of ARC copies. I was only 4th in this chain of readers, but I’m happy so many people are getting the chance to read this single copy of the book! This book is a difficult one to discuss for me, mainly because I really wanted to enjoy it and I need for there to be more POC written fantasy with POC characters in YA and fantasy in general. Unfortunately, while I loved many of the background aspects of this book, I just couldn’t click with the characters or the way this story was told. This book’s main issue was that it was way too ambitious for both a debut and a first book in a series. There was just so much in this book to digest, and I still don’t think I’ve fully finished understanding and thinking through all of it. It’s not only thick, but dense as well, and chock-full of just too much plot, action, and death. This book alone could have served as an entire series on its own with its plotline, as the book seems to follow the chain of exposition -> rising action -> climax -> falling action quite a few times. It was just too much for me as a reader alongside understanding the world and the lore woven into the novel as well. However, my biggest personal issue was the hopelessness of most of the novel. This novel gets really dark really fast, and I get that comes with demons, but the utter despair that this book emanates from 20%-90% with no hope of a true resolution put me off a whole lot. It seemed like the only way this could turn around was with a miracle, and instead of it reading as a struggle between the main cast and this evil, it seemed more like continuous beat down of the main cast as their loved ones were all slowly killed off. (Seriously, almost every single character you’re introduced to in the first 10-20% of the novel is dead by the end). Don’t get me wrong, I like dark books and dark magic and dark villains, but I need some balance. It needs to be a battle/war that the main character seems to have some feasible chance of winning for me to stay invested. Even with all those issues, I have to commend the author on the world and lore she created for the story and the way morality is played with in this book. The world seems to be incredibly diverse naturally, it doesn’t seem forced at all. Additionally, I absolutely loved the lore/religion of the world and how it factored into the plot itself, especially all the reveals made at the end. You also have no sense of good and evil in this book as almost everyone seems to walk the line between the two, with Arrah trying desperately to figure out which side to stake her life on. It was fascinating to analyze and read from that mindset alone. I am extremely tempted to continue the series when the rest of the books come out, even with my disappointing experience with the first book, as I did really enjoy what the author was trying to do. Hopefully there’s a little more balance in book 2, and I don’t get the same strong feelings of despair and hopelessness.

  18. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    I just wanna stare at this cover forever. Look how powerful she looks. DAMN. ♥

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cortney

    4.25 Stars For her story begins at the end Full of pain and sweet revenge. For she shall not rest in this life, For she must suffer for her sins. Arrah doesnt have magic like her parents and so you know she may be tempted to do something she shouldnt just to get a little taste of what its like to have that kind of power. Shes just trying to help out a friend. What could possibly go wrong? Political intrigue. Check. Revenge. Check. Epic battle scenes. Check. Scheming unreliable gods. Check. Unexpected 4.25 Stars “For her story begins at the end Full of pain and sweet revenge. For she shall not rest in this life, For she must suffer for her sins.” Arrah doesn’t have magic like her parents and so you know she may be tempted to do something she shouldn’t just to get a little taste of what it’s like to have that kind of power. She’s just trying to help out a friend. What could possibly go wrong? Political intrigue. Check. Revenge. Check. Epic battle scenes. Check. Scheming unreliable gods. Check. Unexpected twists and turns. Check. This book has it all. I did have some issues keeping up with all the characters but that can be easily fixed with a character list I’m sure will probably be included in the final copy. It was a joy reading about this little group of friends and their fierce dedication to each other. I may have chuckled a time or two at their banter. Kingdom of Souls is bold, imaginative, shocking and full of death and destruction. The world building is phenomenal and cohesive. I see I’m going to have to prepare myself for the next book in this series. Obviously no one is safe. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    Aaand the comparisons to Black Panther begins No, but for real this actually sounds great and I don't know how I didn't know about this before today like 'Set in a West African-inspired fantasy kingdom and having a tone comparable to Wonder Woman, Last Witchdoctor centers on a young woman who fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can't even cast the simplest curse. In fact, she fails so much that her witchdoctor mother conjures a better daughter, one whose power soon threatens to Aaand the comparisons to Black Panther begins No, but for real this actually sounds great and I don't know how I didn't know about this before today like 'Set in a West African-inspired fantasy kingdom and having a tone comparable to Wonder Woman, Last Witchdoctor centers on a young woman who fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can't even cast the simplest curse. In fact, she fails so much that her witchdoctor mother conjures a better daughter, one whose power soon threatens to destroy everything in its path. Now the young woman must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to defeat her sister.' EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS SCREAMS AMAZING SO IT BETTER BE Source

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    3.75/5stars The world building in this book was awesome and the plot was quite interesting and much darker than expected. The time jumps felt off to me though as I have no clue how much time passed in this book as well as the ending was kindaaaaa anticlimactic. Honestly Im super satisfied with this book though and since reading series always ruins books for me, Ill probably just leave this as a stand-alone in my mind 3.75/5stars The world building in this book was awesome and the plot was quite interesting and much darker than expected. The time jumps felt off to me though as I have no clue how much time passed in this book as well as the ending was kindaaaaa anticlimactic. Honestly I’m super satisfied with this book though and since reading series always ruins books for me, I’ll probably just leave this as a stand-alone in my mind

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    This book was crazy. I mean beyond crazy. From the beginning of the book I had no idea what direction the book was taking and I definitely can say that it had twists and turns that no one could possibly see coming. The complexity of the world and the relationships between those with magic, regular humans, the Orishas, and the demon kind is something that takes time to understand. I wouldnt go into this novel attempting to give definitive titles of good and evil to anyone. Most of, if not all, This book was crazy. I mean beyond crazy. From the beginning of the book I had no idea what direction the book was taking and I definitely can say that it had twists and turns that no one could possibly see coming. The complexity of the world and the relationships between those with magic, regular humans, the Orishas, and the demon kind is something that takes time to understand. I wouldn’t go into this novel attempting to give definitive titles of “good and evil” to anyone. Most of, if not all, the characters are morally grey which makes for a very compelling story. In terms of plot, I was extremely surprised at how complex the author attempted to be in world-building. At times, it felt as though there was too much information packed into this nearly 500 page novel that could be shared over what I am going to assume is book 2 and 3. And because of the overload of information, there were some parts of the book (namely the middle) that seemed to drag on. The plot didn’t really pick up speed again until the last 100-150 pages of the book. With such a interesting magic system and world, I felt as though this initial book could have been shorter. The character development was also interesting and I found that the main character Arrah was weaker than I wanted. My heart was searching for this kick ass female lead that could take on anything and yet most of the time I felt like she was relying on everyone and everything around her. I also feel as though her love interest was irrelevant to the core of the story. They didn’t need to be together and honestly after the crap that he pulled at the end of the book, they shouldn’t be together at all. I just want a YA fantasy book that has nothing to do with romance. Is that too much to ask for? Overall, I did enjoy the book and annotated the crap out of my copy. I wanted to give it 5 but I couldn’t justify it with the issues that I took note of. I definitely will be picking up the next book in the series because that ending was MIND BLOWING. If there is one thing I love about a book, it’s the authors ability to write a twist that no one sees coming.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vivianne

    Spoiler free mini review This book was awful. I am sorry but I really didnt like it. I like that it was an POC fantasy, the west African inspiration, and I like the cover. But I think thats about it that I liked. The plot was sooooooooo weird. I still havent comprehended what was happening actually. I am just I dont know. It was strange. Too much was happening and at the same time too less. But mainly I did not enjoy the story! Some things seemed random or added as an afterthought. At several Spoiler free mini review This book was awful. I am sorry but I really didn’t like it. I like that it was an POC fantasy, the west African inspiration, and I like the cover. But I think that’s about it that I liked. The plot was sooooooooo weird. I still haven’t comprehended what was happening actually. I am just… I don’t know. It was strange. Too much was happening and at the same time too less. But mainly I did not enjoy the story! Some things seemed random or added as an afterthought. At several points in this book I was like what?! HUH?! Other parts felt disconnected and disjoining. There are scenes in here that were super dark, I can’t believe this is a YA book actually. (view spoiler)[ A scene where eight? Children are murdered, a rape scene, weird rituals, child abuse, torture, and the whole book is filled with the main character being held under a spell so she can’t act against her mother, which I found very abusing and torturing. (hide spoiler)] It went even so dark that I didn’t know how this would ever become alright. I felt hopeless and triggered while reading this, not my cup of tea. I was bored throughout this whole book, I was confused, I was detested, I was put off, I was… urgh I want to really stop talking about this… Why o Why o why? The pacing was also very off. The beginning was just not moving and then half way through everything went soooo fast and very… illogical? I didn’t understand things and because of this during the audiobook my attention was slipping. Making it even harder. I disliked every character in this book. Really… there is nobody I liked, nobody I cared about. The main character was VERY helpless, illogical and annoying. I didn’t enjoy reading from her pov at all. The side characters were very underdeveloped and not enjoyable. I can’t tell you their names anymore, that less of an impression they made on me. On top of this I didn’t understand her mother and Elfiya. This was I think my main problem? The world was interesting in some way, but not very well executed. I liked the idea of west African inspiration but besides the rituals I didn’t really see a lot of that coming back in the story. WTF was that ending..? Will not even read the sequel if you pay me. No thank you.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Yesenia Juarez

    What did I get myself into!!! Only complaint is that I got myself into a series that isnt compete. I dont like starting a series that isnt complete *insert sad face here What did I get myself into!!! Only complaint is that I got myself into a series that isn’t compete. I don’t like starting a series that isn’t complete *insert sad face here

  25. 4 out of 5

    Savannah Holland

    TRIGGER WARNING: Rape and victim blaming -I would like to begin this by saying I have sent my arc off to a different reviewer and can no longer provide exact quotes, but following along with the updates I recorded as I read I can refer to those for at least one specific page. Warning: SPOILERS The rape in question appears approximately 3/4 (pg 414ish)through the book When Arrah and the Love interest, Rudjek, are on a quest through the forest. Arrah leaves R to bathe and upon coming back finds him TRIGGER WARNING: Rape and victim blaming -I would like to begin this by saying I have sent my arc off to a different reviewer and can no longer provide exact quotes, but following along with the updates I recorded as I read I can refer to those for at least one specific page. Warning: SPOILERS The rape in question appears approximately 3/4 (pg 414ish)through the book When Arrah and the Love interest, Rudjek, are on a quest through the forest. Arrah leaves R to bathe and upon coming back finds him in the aftermath of having sex with Arrah's sister, a demon, disguised as Arrah herself. Essentially Rudjek consented to having sex with Arrah, not knowing he had been tricked. This is literal rape, an occurence which not only serves no purpose for the plot other then to I guess really prove that the sister, who has already murdered and tortured people, is really really bad??? Arrah is immediately angry with Rudjek for "not knowin it wasn't her." One could argue that in the heat of the moment Arrah was acting out of hurt, except this attitude never changes. Rudjek is given no sympathy for the rest of the book and his own rape is held over him like a dark cloud until the end. Not only that, but an actual God mocks Rudjek for this in front of all of his friends on page 479 (according to my goodreads updates). BIG PLOT SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT As if this is not upsetting enough as it is, the author takes great pains earlier in the book to present the villain, Arrah's mother as sympathetic due to the fact that she was tortured psychically by an evil witchdoctor. The descriptions of said torture, while not being physical, are heavily compared to sexual assault. Basically her mind, and those of a few minor characters, was raped. This event in question lead Arrah's mother to seek revenge against those that allowed this to happen (the church and government) by partnering with a demon, to conceive Arrah's sister, in order to bring down humanity. Basically, from the villain's PoV, this is a rape revenge story, which is why it is so bizarre to have another character get raped and blamed for it. All that aside this book was heading for a solid 3.5 star rating. It was very fast and had some interesting elements and characters. Arrah for example, was very well rounded and i enjoyed her quite a lot. My main issue came with pacing. It felt very disjointed to the point where I once compared it to reading 3 separate books that didn't feel like they belonged together.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nia •ShadesOfPaper•

    You can find this review on my blog Shades of Paper. I once laughed at stories about demons, and now I know that one may walk in my shadows. She does not mean well. I was so excited to read this book because Ive been hearing amazing things about it and a lot of people have been talking about Kingdom of Souls lately so I was super intrigued, not only by the cover but by the premise. And overall I have to say that there were some elements that I really enjoyed about it but there was some thing You can find this review on my blog Shades of Paper. “I once laughed at stories about demons, and now I know that one may walk in my shadows. She does not mean well.” I was so excited to read this book because I’ve been hearing amazing things about it and a lot of people have been talking about Kingdom of Souls lately so I was super intrigued, not only by the cover but by the premise. And overall I have to say that there were some elements that I really enjoyed about it but there was some thing about the pacing and the plot of the book that made it dragged a lot and made my enjoyment of it lower. One of the reasons why I gave this book 3 stars was because of the pacing. The first half of the story was so interesting I was so intrigued by the plot and the magical elements of the book and I wanted to know what was going to happen next, even though I was a bit confused by everything that we learned so far, but the other half of the story was so slow and I felt not much was happening. My main issue with the story was like I said before, that it was so dense. I don’t consider Kingdom of Souls very big book, but there were a lot of times where I felt the story wasn’t evolving or progressing as I thought it would and we were stuck in the same place. There was a big change in the tone, the plot and the setting of the novel if we compare the very beginning and the second half that it felt as if I was reading a different book, and there were a lot of subplots going on that made Kingdom of Souls seemed dense and very slow start. In my opinion all the stuff happening wasn’t adding anything to the plot, and frankly, I was so bored during the majority of the time because of that. The very beginning of the novel was so intriguing and I was so engaged, but I became less and less invested in the book as I continued with it, till the point of felt so disconnected to it. However, something that I adore and consider one of my favorite things of kingdom of souls was definitely the mythology and the magic system. I loved how the magic was introduced to the story. “Don’t get caught in the shadows, for a demon waits to steal your soul. The younger the soul, the sweeter the feast.” When you come to the characters, I think they were okay but they weren’t my favorite. Some of them were so underdeveloped and could’ve been much more than what was learnt from them. Efia was such an interesting character and I was rooting for her so much when she was firstly introduced, but she was a very a flat character that I ended up pretty disappointed with her. She could have been such an interesting villain but because we almost knew anything about her and her POVs didn’t add a lot to her character arc, she ended up being another plain villain. The rest of the characters were fine. I definitely really enjoyed the relationship between our main character and her dad, and I think that was such a precious thing to see in the book, and I also really appreciated the friendship and the interactions between the different characters throughout the novel They had very nice and dynamics and I’m just sad that they didn’t hit all the marks for me. One of the things that I have to add to my review is that I couldn’t care less about the romance. It was very rush and frankly I didn’t see a lot of chemistry between the characters. I mean, I really liked them together and I like their interactions throughout the book, but I just felt that the romance was so underdeveloped. Overall, I think Kingdom of Souls had so much potential and had such an interesting concept for a book, but the pacing of the plot made my enjoyment lowered quite a lot. I appreciated it so much that it was book with such a diverse cast of characters and that it had that very interesting magical elements and a very in-depth world building, but I would’ve loved to see more of that magic and a more complex plot and characters. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own. “Some people can pull magic from the fabric of the world. Some can coax magic to come with rituals and spells. Many can’t call magic at all. It’s a gift from Heka to the people of the five tribes—a gift of himself—but it’s different from everyone.” .... Thank you HarperCollins for giving me an ARC of this book LOOK AT THAT COVER! That girl could choke me and I’d be totally okay with that Blog | Twitter | Instagram | BlogLovin’

  27. 5 out of 5

    K.S. Marsden

    The tribes are blessed with magic, some stronger than others. Arrah has to deal with being the dud of the family. She yearns to use magic like everybody else, but she should be careful what she wishes for. I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Set in a West-African inspired world, where magic is a necessary part of life, Arrah is the daughter of two of the most powerful people in the tribes, and her grandmother is edam - another powerful witch-doctor and tribal The tribes are blessed with magic, some stronger than others. Arrah has to deal with being the dud of the family. She yearns to use magic like everybody else, but she should be careful what she wishes for. I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Set in a West-African inspired world, where magic is a necessary part of life, Arrah is the daughter of two of the most powerful people in the tribes, and her grandmother is edam - another powerful witch-doctor and tribal leader. Everyone expects amazing things from Arrah, but... the years go by and are filled with disappointment, as magic fails to connect with her. I really liked Arrah, and can really sympathise with her. She has to grow up with the weight of all the expectations, made worse by the fact her family is very prominent and she can't hide from the judging eyes of the tribes. All Arrah wants is to be accepted and loved for who she is. Her father and her best friend/love-interest are both very supportive; but they don't make up for the fact that her mother is cold and distant, not hiding her disappointment in her daughter. The world that Barron has created is amazing. With gods, demons, a civilisation laced with magic and so much history behind it. I thought the story-telling was the perfect balance between conveying the depth of this world; but keeping it light and interesting. The first half of the book was brilliant, and I was completely hooked as Arrah tries to uncover the mystery of the children being stolen from their homes. It is totally unforgiving and isn't afraid to hit hard. The second half... I really wanted to keep loving this book, but it lost its pacing after what felt like a natural climax of the story. It could have stopped after the resolution of the kidnapping mystery, and the uncovering of the villain, and I would have been satisfied. Instead, it felt like a second book was being tacked on. The second half spends a lot of time in a place where time doesn't exist, as it does in the real world. Unfortunately, as a reader, it also felt like that for me. Arrah mourns the life and friends that she's lost, and contemplates the darkness and danger to come. And round in circles we go. The second half of the book is also a lot more cerebral, with a lot of stuff happening on different planes and within minds and memories. Overall, this was a 3.5 out of 5 for me. I enjoyed this book, it had a lot of potiental, despite its debut flaws. I would read the rest of the series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    Thank you to Edelweiss for the e-galley and Goodreads for the arc win. I enjoyed this far more than I expected to. This is not to say because of the content, but more because I am burning myself off of fantasy. BUT this is the exception. This has renewed my hope in the genre. This book was dark, and I love dark so you can imagine my glee. There are books out there that trick you into thinking it's creepier than it is, and those books always disappoint. I mean, there's magic, witchdoctors, demons, Thank you to Edelweiss for the e-galley and Goodreads for the arc win. I enjoyed this far more than I expected to. This is not to say because of the content, but more because I am burning myself off of fantasy. BUT this is the exception. This has renewed my hope in the genre. This book was dark, and I love dark so you can imagine my glee. There are books out there that trick you into thinking it's creepier than it is, and those books always disappoint. I mean, there's magic, witchdoctors, demons, kidnapped kids, soul-sucking situations...I'll stop there as to not give too much away. This OWNVOICES fantasy revolves around Arrah and the fact that she does not possess the magic that runs through her family's blood. When a mysterious string of disappearances occur, Arrah decides that she must take matters into her own hands, because her mother, a powerful witchdoctor has gone rogue. Add in a love interest who's a family enemy and some intense world-building, and you hooked me. Rena Barron built a world that you can sink into with ease. There is a lot to remember, gods names, tribes, etc., but it was fairly easy once the story got started. The plot was chock full of action. I swear there weren't any slow spots at all. I was anxeity ridden for almost 500 pages. Al in all, this was the complex and dark world that I want in fantasy books. We have a protagonist that has a head on her shoulders and does things true to her heart. I gave this an extra star as I let the story marinate after I finished. It stayed with me days later, and that is how I know what I experienced was worth it. I feel like my words don't do justice to how I feel. 5/5 I will read the sequel.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    I was sent an arc of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review CW: Abusive mother, mind control, self-harm, sexual assault imagery, mass murder, child sacrifice, possession, poisoning, death. At this point, many years into my reviewing career, you must know that if you say ownvoices African fantasy I do not need to hear more, I WILL come running. No ifs, ands or buts. So it only makes sense that this review of Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron, which is a West African fantasy, I was sent an arc of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review CW: Abusive mother, mind control, self-harm, sexual assault imagery, mass murder, child sacrifice, possession, poisoning, death. At this point, many years into my reviewing career, you must know that if you say “ownvoices African fantasy” I do not need to hear more, I WILL come running. No ifs, ands or buts. So it only makes sense that this review of Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron, which is a West African fantasy, eventually shows up on my blog. And eventhough I had a couple issues with it, my experience reading it was overall very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to what comes next. The details of this last statement are as follow: The writing is beautiful and lyrical in ways that sucked me inside the story in no time and made me feel the atmosphere of every single chapter and every single scene. The descriptions are so vivid that you can’t help but be transported to whatever it is you’re reading, and that’s always major plus for me whenever I’m reading fantasy. That being said, in some places, it didn’t not flow as easily as in the rest of the novel, some parts were overly descriptive and the worldbuilding was done awkwardly, it wasn’t weaved into the narrative as well as in the rest of the novel and it took me out of the story. Full review posted on my blog : Word Wonders

  30. 4 out of 5

    ˗ˏˋliaˎˊ˗

    so the cover gods are really trying their hardest to kill me this year, aren't they?

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