Hello Gemmies! I have an exciting book review to share with you today. Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron is the first book in the Kingdom of Souls Series. This is a wonderful high fantasy YA adventure featuring magic, witch doctors, orishas, and more! Rena Barron has created an incredibly detailed, lush, rich world full of a complex power structure and magic system, plots within plots, and backstabbing galore! I enjoyed this book so much there were quite a few twists that I did not see coming, lots of action, heartache, intrigue, and strained familial relationships. It's hardcore and I love it. Trigger warning there is blood magic, child death, body harm, and animal sacrifice mentioned in this book. Make no mistake this is no sparkly princess fantasy, this world is dark, serious, and here to snatch your soul!
Kingdom of Souls is not just an action packed thrill ride full of intrigue, love, and betrayal, but It is also an extremely well written character driven story. I love our main protagonist Arrah. I found her to be complex and relatable as she struggles with her own identity and how to handle each curve ball thrown at her. You really empathize with her as she struggles to determine who she will become. I found her self doubt and stubbornness to be frustrating at times. But she needed that tenacity to survive the really horrible situations she was put in. A lesser person would not have made it. My absolute favorite character though, was Rudjek....sigh, charming, dashing, good hearted Rudjek. I will root for him to win all day and every day. There are so many plot twists and gut punches, this story left me reeling. At times I had to just pause to catch my breath! We are also introduced to so many other important characters, that I sometimes got confused. There are witch doctors, gods, demons, regular folk, love interests, past and present events....it was a lot to take in. I'm so impressed with the depth of detail and information Rena came up with for this story. And the whole Land of Kefu sequence.....mind scramble!
If you are a fan of rich mythologies, stunning world building, love, anguish, magic, betrayal, complicated families, time fluidity, and history then go read this book! This gem published by Harper Voyager is available for purchase from all major booksellers. I give Kingdom of Souls 5 out of 5 gems. I cannot wait to read more stories set in this universe. Happy Reading!