Author: Rena Barron
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ 1/2 out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Rena Barron’s debut novel tells the story of Arrah. The daughter and granddaughter of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah finds herself disappointed year after year as she continues to fail to be able to call upon the powers with which her family has been blessed with. Having accepted the fact that she will never have powers of her own and she will forever be a disappointment to her mother, Arrah resigns herself to her fate. It’s not until the children of the kingdom begin to disappear that Arrah decides she must do that which she has sworn never to do, trade years of her life for magic in order to find and hopefully safe the missing children.
Having become a charlatan, Arrah is presented with something far more horrific than she could’ve ever imagined. Finding herself in the midst of a battle that has long been brewing, Arrah must fight both for and against those she loves if she has any hope of saving the kingdom and neighboring tribes from total destruction.
When talk about Kingdom of Souls first began circulating on Twitter and Bookstagram, I have to admit, it didn’t appeal to me. Although the cover is stunning and the book features a Black female protagonist, with a supporting cast of Black characters, it just wasn’t speaking to me and I didn’t feel the need to read it. It wasn’t until I learned that Michael B. Jordan had optioned the film rights for it that I decided I should maybe read the book and see what all the hype was about.
I picked this book up with an open mind but low expectations, as with many readers, I’ve read highly rated books only to be disappointed upon reading it for myself. Well, I’m happy to say that for once, all the hype was worth it. Not only is Kingdom of Souls an amazing book, but it drew me in from the beginning. Like any good roller coaster ride, the story shoots out of the gate and begins a slow climb to the top of the first drop, from that drop the story just continued to hurtle up and down hills and through loops all at breakneck speed. I love that I was kept guessing as to what was really going on and why. As for the twist towards the end of the book, although I did not see it coming when I first started the book, and was kept in the dark for most of the book, I did figure it out about two pages before it was actually revealed. But man, even with figuring out the twist, I still couldn’t believe it when I actually read it.
Rena Barron has created a highly engaging and imaginative young adult novel that incorporates West African belief while showcasing a female protagonist who is powerful in her own unique way, even without magic, and who battles constantly with the love she feels for her mother while not wanting to disappoint her all at the same time. Having read this book, I understand why Michael B. Jordan was drawn to this story and has optioned the film rights, the story is beautifully written and empowering all at once. I cannot wait to read next book and to see this series brought to the screen.