Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2031
dark and compelling YA fantasy
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
KINGDOM OF SOULS is a dark epic fantasy that follows Arrah, a girl whose mother is the Ka-Priestess and whose father loves her dearly. Arrah is desperate for the magic so many others have. Both her parents have so much, and yet, Arrah cannot perform even the smallest of charms with magic. In her sixteenth year, she knows that if her magic does not show now, it never will. After a failed attempt to reach out to the gods (orishas) that could bestow magic, she is given a darker prophecy from her grandmother about a green-eyed serpent.

When she returns to the city, her mother is scheming. Never sure of where she stands with her mother, Arrah is wary but still shocked when her mother announces that children have been disappearing. When a child who feels like a brother to Arrah goes missing, Arrah is willing to take a step that she never thought she could out of desperation to find him- she will sell her years (potentially life) for magic that does not come naturally. What she finds is shocking and leads to twists and turns in the plot that transform the book into something else entirely.

Note that I will not give too many details to avoid spoilers- this book has many twists, turns and surprises.

What I loved: This is a slow-building fantasy that takes a lot of time and care in world and character building. As such, the characters feel closer and the world more real, in the vein of THE LORD OF THE RINGS series. This is a highly compelling and emotionally challenging book- I list that as a strength, because I love books that can make you feel so many things. The story evolves throughout, making it feel like reading multiple stories in one book, and mirroring the changes that Arrah undergoes throughout them.

The portrayal of the orishas (gods) was also intriguing. We see their perspectives here and there in sections during the book that add quite a bit to it. They are compelling in their own right and reveal much to the reader.

Morality is a big theme here, and the definition is not so clear. One thing I really loved is that there is not a clear evil/bad guy here- even the reader is left questioning who is in the right or who is good or evil. This complexity is achieved over many pages and is really powerful.

What left me wanting more: I am going to venture into a spoiler here, so skip this if you do not want to know (I'll try to be vague). In two scenes, characters have sexual encounters under false pretenses in a way that seems like sexual assault but is not addressed (and in one case, the victim is vilified for it). In one, their body is possessed/under magical control and in another, the victim was made to believe the person they were sleeping with was someone they loved- only to later find out that it was not the person they thought it was. Upon this realization, this person is shamed as if they should have known better, by pretty much all the other characters. It seemed unnecessary to the plot and could have been handled better.

I would also give warnings for multiple character death, child death, torture, and emotional/physical abuse.

Final verdict: Dark and slow-building, this is a unique YA fantasy that grapples with important questions around family, destiny, morality, and sacrifice. Highly recommend for fans of epic fantasy that transcend stories and feature diverse/#ownvoices characters. This book is sure to leave you reeling in the best way and excited for the next in the series (a bit of a cliffhanger at the end).
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 1 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Send Me Their Souls (Bring Me Their Hearts, #3)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
There are worse things than death. ...
The Walrus and the Caribou
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
When the earth was new, words had the power to...
The Elephant's Umbrella
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Elephant is always ready and willing to share her prized...
Calvin Gets the Last Word
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The dictionary as narrator? YES! ...
Goblin King (Permafrost, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In Kara Barbieri's Goblin King, the stunning sequel in the...
Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #3)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Morrigan battles a new evil as a strange, frightening illness...
The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
*AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER* From New York...
Earth-Shattering Events: Volcanoes, earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis and other natural disasters
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
An atlas of the most extreme meteorological and geological disasters...
Among the Beasts and Briars
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Ashley Poston, acclaimed author of Heart of Iron, returns...
Gut Garden: A journey into the wonderful world of your microbiome
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
A journey into the wonderful world of your microbiome! Within...
ICK! Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Animals--they're cute and fluffy, cuddly and puffy, and ... sometimes...
Dinosaurs Are Not Extinct: Real Facts About Real Dinosaurs
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Award-winning author-illustrator Drew Sheneman brings budding paleontologists the truth about...
The Camelot Betrayal
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from New...
Soulswift
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A dark, epic fantasy about a girl who must rethink...
Goblin King
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
In Kara Barbieri's Goblin King, the stunning sequel in the...
Beautiful Wild
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
You are invited to set sail on the maiden voyage...

Latest Member Reviews

Sting Magic
 
4.8
"What a start to the series! Sting Magic by Sarah K.L. Wilson is a fantastic, quick read that takes you..."
Kingdom of the Wicked
 
4.3
"Thrills and chills abound in Kerri Maniscalco‘s new release Kingdom of the Wicked. I don’t know where to start! This..."
Send Me Their Souls (Bring Me Their Hearts, #3)
 
4.3
"SEND ME THEIR SOULS is a gut-wrenching finale to a fantastic YA fantasy series. In this third book, we begin..."
The Walrus and the Caribou
 
4.5
"THE WALRUS AND THE CARIBOU is a delightful picture book that captures Indigenous folklore about the creation of animals. Guk..."
The Elephant's Umbrella
 
3.5
"THE ELEPHANT'S UMBRELLA is a picture book with great illustrations and a moral of kindness. The elephant has a special..."
Calvin Gets the Last Word
 
4.0
"CALVIN GETS THE LAST WORD is a cute picture book told from the perspective of Calvin's beloved dictionary. He is..."
Goblin King (Permafrost, #2)
 
4.0
"GOBLIN KING is a much faster-paced and action-packed YA fantasy sequel. Janneke has taken the mantle of the stag, though..."
Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #3)
 
5.0
"HOLLOWPOX is an engaging middle grade fantasy that takes the reader on a magical journey to the Wundrous Society. Morrigan..."
Earth-Shattering Events: Volcanoes, earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis and other natural disasters
 
5.0
"Earth-Shattering Events by Robin Jacobs is a wonderfully thought-out book that details different natural disasters: what they are, how we..."
Gut Garden: A journey into the wonderful world of your microbiome
 
4.7
"Gut Garden by Katie Brosnan is a well-thought out journey through our digestive system, introducing kids to the bacteria and..."
ICK! Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses
 
5.0
"National Geographic Kids is always sure to be a winner at my house. Their newest release has been deemed the..."
Dinosaurs Are Not Extinct: Real Facts About Real Dinosaurs
 
4.3
"Dinosaurs Are Not Extinct by Drew Sheneman is a short, illustrated nonfiction book introducing children to one of the more..."
Swamp Thing: Twin Branches
 
4.3
"SWAMP THING: TWIN BRANCHES is a graphic novel about finding yourself, remembering history, and forging your own path forward. Alec..."
The Mirror: Broken Wish (The Mirror, #1)
 
5.0
"BROKEN WISH is a beautifully composed fairytale. The book begins with the story of Mathilda and Agnes, neighbors who have..."
How to Catch a Yeti
 
5.0
"HOW TO CATCH A YETI is a delightful picture book about a group of children who, as the title implies,..."
Along Came a Fox
 
4.0
"ALONG CAME A FOX is the story of Bramble, who is excited to find some fireflies. Her friends tell her..."
Rosa's Big Pizza Experiment (Rosa's Workshop)
 
5.0
"ROSA'S BIG PIZZA EXPERIMENT is a cute picture book about the process to make a pizza, beginning with the flour,..."
The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)
 
5.0
"THE GILDED WOLVES is a fantastic YA fantasy. Although given a year in the 1800s and a historical setting, the..."
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)
 
4.3
"That ending!!! THE SILVERED SERPENTS is an engaging YA historical fantasy that picks up after the first book ended, and..."
Among the Beasts and Briars
 
4.7
"Ashley Poston has crafted a new fairy tale for the ages! Among the Beasts and Briars may very well be..."