Kingdom of Souls Review

Kingdom of Souls Review | Rena Barron

It’s been a while since I’ve really fallen in love with a book and a new author, but Rena Barron has done it for me. I was blown away by Kingdom of Souls – check out my full review below.

Publisher: HarperVoyager | Date: 2019 | Genre: Fantasy

Plot: 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.

I received Kingdom of Souls from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book review: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Kingdom of Souls Review

Do you ever wish books won’t be compared to others? Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron is likened to Children of Blood and Bone. While I can see some connections in the premise in terms of an almost-tribal magic, that’s as far as it goes for me. I had big issues with Children of Blood and Bone, but Kingdom of Souls is one of my top reads for the entire year.

I’ll start with the characters. The story is told through a first-person narration, following Arrah on her quest first of all to be gifted with magic, then dealing with the horrific consequences when she glimpses power and is opened up to a whole new world, turning everything she thought she knew upside down.

Arrah has complex relationships: she craves her mother’s approval, until suddenly that’s the worst thing. She starts to realise her feelings for her best friend might be more than that. She wants, more than anything, to keep those she cares for safe. Arrah is strong; vulnerable; powerful; humble. There’s never any hysterics, never any all-powerful moments: she’s a grounded, realistic character you easily relate and engage with.

Arrah’s relationships are perhaps the best I’ve read for a young adult. Her friendships are genuine and true, with teasing underlying the loyalty between the group. The subtle romance tones between her and Rudjek, the son of her mother’s enemy, develop in a slow and gentle way: there’s no rushing each other, despite their ages, and it makes it even more romantic.

Rudjek studies my face again. “You look like you’ve just seen the end of the world.”

“Old news,” I sigh, waving my hand, “I saw that months ago.”

The plot is full of twists and turns. Children start to go missing in the city and magic is involved. I didn’t expect the culprit to be revealed at the half-way mark, and had no idea how intense and developed the rest of the story would go. New threats are revealed time and time again, with the stakes higher each time. There’s no telling what will happen next; it quickly becomes clear no one is who they say they are, and when magic and Gods are involved, that becomes tricky.

The tension steadily grew throughout before almost exploding in the final confrontations. The fights are dramatic and the stakes are high. There are a few moments I didn’t see coming; deaths that I didn’t foresee. I literally couldn’t put it down, desperate to know how characters would be stopped and events prevented from unfolding.

There was one part that didn’t work for me: there are moments scattered throughout that are from someone else’s narration, written in the style of overhearing a conversation between other characters (normally the Gods). It acted as exposition, giving a quick backstory, or filling in the blanks. While it avoided characters having pointless conversations, it did jolt you from the story a little, especially then figuring out who was narrating.

This was such a strong book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I refused to put it down, anxious to know what was going to happen. I’ll definitely be following this through the series.

Does this sound like your kind of book? Have you read Kingdom of Souls?

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19 thoughts on “Kingdom of Souls Review | Rena Barron

    • I didn’t care for it either which is why the comparison here I think is off-putting because I found this a much stronger book and far more enjoyable! I definitely recommend this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I really enjoyed your review. It sounds like quite the interesting books, I should check it out. I honestly don’t like it when books are compared to others, be it by the author, publisher or readers. I don’t what to know what it’s similar to, I want to know what the book is like by itself. I think a lot of people do those comparisons to drive interest, but I don’t think they are necessary. Plus if they compare it to books I didn’t enjoy then I’m not likely to pick up the books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m exactly the same: it frustrates me when they compare, especially in this case because I had big issues with what they were comparing it too. This is a really enjoyable book though, I hope you enjoy it if you get the chance to check it out.


  2. This sounds like such an amazing book and I always appreciate when a fantasy novel has strong characters and especially great relationships between the characters too which feel genuine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like such a good book! I have just started seeing info about this story, and I’m looking forward to picking it up! Thank you for your review and putting this book back on my reading radar! ?

    Liked by 1 person

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