When you bargain your years for magic, it takes of you what it will.
Oh yes. Rena Barron’s debut Kingdom of Souls will take of you what it will. With a magic that is like no other and then bringing on all the Gods; Kingdom of Souls takes the weight of the expectations heaped upon it and exceeds them.
THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.
Explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend, where one girl must sacrifice her life, year by year, to gain the power necessary to fight the mother she has never been good enough for.
Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Tomi Adeyemi and Black Panther
THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.
Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can’t even cast the simplest curse.
Shame and disappointment dog her.
When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear.
An explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend with a twist you will never see coming.
Can I tell you a quick story? No. Seriously. Because it goes to relatability. And if you have a sibling you are jealous of it’ll make PERFECT sense.
One Christmas many, many moons ago, my brother and mother and I (context: I had constantly told my mom that my brother was perfect in everyone’s eyes and I was the black sheep to which of course she reassured me was not the case) walked into my aunt’s house.
Let me restate. IT WAS CHRISTMAS.
My aunt looks straight at my brother and says: Happy Birthday.
In less than the space between heartbeats I look at my mother and just deadpan it: I told you everyone thought he was Jesus Christ. She had no words.
Now. What does this have to do with Kingdom of Souls? Everything. There is a connection between Kingdom of Souls and There Will Come a Darkness. And if it is a trend? I’m all in on it. Children born without the magic. Arrah is born to a very powerful mother- the greatest Chieftain, even. Her daughter, Arrah, isn’t showing a sign- nadda one of having the gift of this magic and it is a disgrace. One that Arrah sees every day on her mother’s face.
Hassan from There Will Come A Darkness is born to the King and Queen, meant to be the future King. Both his parents are born strong in Grace, but he shows no signs of it. Yet, he is to rule. Hatred, self-doubt and self-pity run through his mind. He wants to help his parents who are being held captive and he feels useless.
For both Arrah and Hassan, these are huge family dynamics. And for many out there they are very relatable characters you don’t see portrayed so uniquely and so well. I appreciate seeing this out in the fantasy world because I found myself yelling at the book– YES! ALL THE YES AND TELL ME ABOUT IT. I KNOW HOW THAT FEELS!
And then it gets even worse for Arrah because her mother, Arti is not only that dissatisfied with Arrah’s lack of magic, but she decides to raise an evil God in her womb and give birth to it in the form of a second child for herself. Because she’s going to be able to control that child. Of course. That’s going to go well. No, it isn’t.
Poor Arrah. Torn between but that’s my sister. Kind of. I want to help her. But that’s also like the end of the world in that child. She tries to help her and influence her younger sister before everything goes south. However, mommy dearest has put a curse on Arrah that keeps her from doing anything that will go against her mother’s plans.
While everything seems to be going south for Arrah with a quickness. Barron keeps you rooting for Arrah. She is an amazing character that is stubborn and flawed. Deeply committed to setting things right, to acquiring the magic denied to her and ultimately stopping the cataclysmic events set in motion by her mother, Arrah shows depths of enormous strength.
Through Kingdom of Souls Arrah is faced with multiple devastating blows. She rises to the occasion each time. There are important people she loses and while there were a couple of those twists I saw coming, I would say it didn’t take anything away from the story. Mostly because of how it happened.
There was a very sinister and sly way in which most of Arrah’s loss occurs. In this way, even if you see the different twists and reveals coming? Whether they are losses or just plot points? It is the way they unfold that provide the punch in the gut.
Barron’s magic system is wholly unique. It isn’t just a magic system; it is a way of life. Stretching back throughout through time itself. It is interwoven throughout the lands, cultures and the day-to-day workings of life. It is also something that can take away life for those so desperate to have it.
The Gods Barron brings to life both with their historical backgrounds and physical descriptions. They are at times helpful and then self-serving, cruel and then saviors, beautiful and hideous. There is precision to the way Barron brings them to life that is immeasurable.
Outside of one hiccup (and that is a personal preference that I have, and it extends over numerous books, not just this one) towards the end of Kingdom of Souls I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone. It exceeds all of the expectations heaped on it, easily. I can’t wait to read the next installment.
When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French. Follow her at @renathedreamer and renabarron.com.
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