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Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Published in the UK by Harper Voyager (Left) Sep 2019 & US (Right) by Harper Teen



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 West African world of magic and legend with a twist you will never see coming.


First of all thank you to Harper Voyager and Netgalley who sent me a digital review copy (sorry it’s late …)

I really enjoyed several aspects of this book – the setting being the main one. The world Rena Barron has created is beautiful, I really felt like I was there in person while I was reading about it. The details included were rich and complex but well written so while I felt the writing was detailed, I didn’t get confused and need to reread anything or get lost.

My drawback for Kingdom of Souls is that while it isn’t the longest of fantasy novels out there, it moved incredibly slowly at first. I found myself really pushing to get through the first half of the novel and then the second moved so fast I didn’t feel that enough of the narrative concentrated on building the characters before we got to the action. I would love to know more about the magic system as I really enjoyed that! At times I thought the narrative skimmed over details which could have been explored for the reader’s benefit although, with another two books coming, perhaps we will get those details soon!

So despite the slow burn first half, the second half of the narrative is non-stop. By this point I was enthralled in the world and enjoying the character’s progression. Arrah is a great protagonist to follow, she isn’t perfect in the sense of the word – she doesn’t even have magic, but she wants it so desperately. I really felt for her and enjoyed following her journey through the story, her allegiance between two ‘clans’ is hard leaving her feeling like she doesn’t belong in either.

As a debut novel I am impressed with Rena Barron – I’ll be keeping an eye on her – and as the first novel in a series I’m really looking forward to continuing on with the story and seeing more of the characters. I feel like we’ve only glimpsed this fantasy world and because it is so rich I’m left wondering how three books is going to be enough?

Goodreads Rating 4 / 5

You can read more about the novel, the author and the world here.


30 something bookish crafter.

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