Good morning and happy Monday, everyone! Today the REIGN OF THE FALLEN blog tour is stopping by the blog so I can share my review of this upcoming YA fantasy with y’all (psst, it’s out tomorrow!). Keep on scrolling for more about the book, a few places you can order a copy, and my review!
Reign of the Fallen #1
by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Published on January 23, 2018 by Razorbill
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
After putting off reading Reign of the Fallen for weeks because I knew it was going to be good and I knew it would put me in a slump once I finished it, I finally sat down. And I read.
I mean, I was partially right so I suppose waiting was a good thing?
I give this book full points for uniqueness. If I went to my shelves, I don’t think I’d find a book dealing with death and magic quite like Reign, or has such a diverse cast, or is as dark a fantasy. This isn’t a happy book. It’s not light. There is a lot of death, some related to the raised Dead but also the death of characters hits more than once. There’s addiction. For those triggered by either, I’m not sure I can recommend Reign of the Fallen to you as it doesn’t shy away.
Now where things started to go a bit awry was the story. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book but after I had a chance to actually reflect on it post-emotion high from finishing it, I realized that there were a few things that didn’t quite match up. For a fantasy, I found the book centered more around the character relationships and dynamics than the story. Which worked, but I would have liked a bit more of a balance. Especially since the themes shifted from the central plot of the Dead turning into monstrous Shades to grief and addiction for a good chunk.
The pacing was definitely a bit rushed and combined with the story bouncing around and feeling a bit muddled, I didn’t feel fully settled in the world. I flew through this book and loved the characters, but some of the world-building elements came off as. . . convenient. Plot twists were blatantly clear to everyone but Odessa which made reading through her eyes frustrating at times. And there really wasn’t much tension for me because of that. I didn’t read this book for the world or story.
But I loved Odessa. Though I don’t think she needed to go through all the terrible things that happened the way she did, especially with the huge supporting cast just chilling in the background, I could see her growth as a character. The Odessa from Chapter 1 is not the same as the one at the end. She’s loved and lost and loved again. . . and lost. . . it was definitely a pattern. The romance elements worked and didn’t work for me. First, this book is #OwnVoices for bisexual rep, with Odessa identifying as bisexual. I loved how that was done because I never felt like it fell into stereotypes (though I can’t speak for certain on that front). I do wish more time had been spent with her first love interest before THE THING happened, especially since so much time went into the second relationship, but otherwise I shipped Odessa with both characters so hard. . . y’all don’t even know.
Also, this book has a BEAR. And I love him dearly. When you meet Lysander, you will understand why.
So in short, loved the characters, was a bit less impressed with the story execution. As for the ending, I’m torn. I didn’t actually know there would be a sequel until I was finishing the book and saw the author talk about it online and I have mixed feelings. Part of me is sitting her thinking OH MY GOODNESS I NEED BOOK 2 because I enjoyed this one ultimately and want to see where it goes next. On the other hand, Reign of the Fallen wraps up so nicely that if it were a standalone I’d feel satisfied with where things left off and don’t feel the need to read on.
This review’s a bit all over the place but yes, I liked this book a lot despite some of the things I mentioned. Yes, I would definitely recommend checking it out. And YES for diverse fantasy!