Kingdom of Souls eARC Review

 

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GoodReads:
Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US 
[Affiliated Links: You will not be charged, I will receive a bit of money if you use my link to purchase]

My Review

This is hands down one of the best YA fantasy books I have EVER read. Barron’s writing is superb, her worldbuilding engaging and the pacing was perfect. Honestly, there is little to no complaint out of me other than I wanted more haha [and let’s face it, that’s a pretty common complaint from me].

The magic system is out of this world, I mean, it’s not born or earned, it’s given and it’s not even necessarily a good thing depending on the situation. Though in Arrah’s case, it’s something she wants and yearns for. Still, it’s such a great change of pace to the things we’ve gotten used to seeing in magic systems.

Arrah is such a wonderful protagonist and the side characters are so easy to love [or hate depending on which side of the plot they’re on] and I think I could never get enough of the relationship between Arrah and her Father. So often we find not enough positive parental relationships in YA but Barron gives you the good and the bad and Arrah’s father and grandmother are two of my ultimate favorite characters in this book.

I really want to focus on Arrah and her Father though. There is not enough YA with healthy parental relationships, like not even anything outstanding, just HEALTHY. So the fact that Barron used this as an opportunity to show both sides of parental relationships the amazing on both ends of the spectrum, speaks VOLUMES. Arrah and her Father are close, there is a deep sense of trust and love and the affection is so blatant from her father that it made me teary-eyed several times. His love is what I hope Fathers show their children more often than not and it’s a great balance to strike against the relationship Arrah has with her Mother. [Who still loves her in her very misguided way]

There is so much love in this book, between friends, including Rudjek, between Arrah and her father, and her grandmother, and it makes all the difference when you read this story.

Arrah’s strength is in her love for those close to her, and she comes to realize that it’s a strength, that even if she hadn’t been gifted magic like those around her, she still has something to fight for and the spirit to do so. Not to mention there are some great twists and crazy obstacles that she faces.

If you want lore that’s drenched in the wonders of different African-inspired tribes and cultures with a kickass magic system, heartache, love, and perseverance, well, I present Kingdom of Souls.

** I preordered this in February, and I even was lucky enough to get the Goldsboro edition, but for this review, I used the eARC that HarperVoyager UK gifted me, via NetGalley **

[I could sincerely gush about this all day and feel so lucky to have had a chance to read an eARC of it….But…if you have a physical ARC and wanna talk trades or something, hit me up, please, that is high on my wishlist lol.]

 

About the Author

Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school. Rena loves all things science fiction, ghosts, and superheroes. She’s a self-proclaimed space nerd. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French.

Author Links

Website| GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram

Kingdom of Souls Site

^^ This site is AMAZING and has so many cool extras ^^

Descended Author Interview: Amanda L. Almaraz

Hey guys!

I know, late post, but, it’s Sunday.  It is my day to be lazy so deal with it [please].

If you remember, I read and reviewed my bestie’s book she’s published, Descended, and I really want to help boost this book, it means a lot to me because it means a lot to her and really, I promise, like pinkie promise to you all that I loved this book. [I mean, I bought two versions, kindle and paperback, does this not express my love?!]

You can find the review and synopsis for it here.

Here we go! INTERVIEW TIME MUAHAHAHA

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Q&A

What’s your writing process like?

It starts with loudly proclaiming I have an idea. And depending on how serious I am about the idea is whether or not I’ll share it with anyone. The more serious I am about the project, the more I turn into a quiet broody hen and kinda hide the whole idea, letting it incubate, talking to myself when I’m sitting on it. And then I do my best to act as the character… this is where the broody hen analogy stops, by the way.

So before bed, on the drive to my horses, or work, or even walking through the house, I run what-if scenarios as the protagonist. Somewhere in all this, I’ve started writing. But by this point, the character should already have their own voice and the story should write itself. If it gets stuck, it’s usually because I’m fighting the characters on something I want to see versus something they are more likely to do… this is also how Sox hijacked Descended and decided against a love interest. 

I’d ask where you got the inspiration but I think I already know part of the answer, so if you want to add to it or tell everyone, go for it.

So the inspiration came from an RPG based in the world of BBC’s Merlin. My original character was the assassin King of the Black Spire (more on this character in Book 2…) I wanted a way to use this character in an Arthurian setting without being like so many other stories (and falling into the beautiful trap of shadow fiction), so I developed modern-day Sox as my storyteller and let her take it from there. And she did. I think she really made it her own. [PSST IT WAS OUR RP NOT THAT I’M BRAGGING]

How many books do you plan for Descended?

Descended is weird… the way Sox tells it feels more like I’m watching a movie with a soundtrack instead if reading/writing a book. Which makes the series weird as well. The first arc is set up to have 4 books. The second arc to complete the series has 2… I think. I’ve been toying with the idea of a sequel series in the future when Sox and I are both older, but it depends on her and if I’m already on other projects by then. She might just need a rest when all of the first series is done. I know I will. I’ve been Hamiltoning this series like crazy. (“Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” Uh… because I might be?)

What made you decide to publish via Amazon? And how are you finding it?

I didn’t want to spend the time querying publishers and waiting for responses. Time is precious. My dad says often says that for someone so busy, I’m the laziest person he knows. Descended was a story that wanted to get out. Sox neither wanted nor needed an “official” method of publishing. My name is out there with her story. It’s not meant to make money, it’s meant to grow attention. It’s got its own barcode and ISBN though, so she’s official enough for me (insert smiley face here!)

As for how I’m finding Amazon? I don’t know yet. I’m still learning it and there are a lot more marketing capabilities that I can take advantage of, but I’m taking my time and getting a feel for it while working on the rest of the series… the whole book cover thing was absolutely maddening though. But that was mostly human error… me error. I’m bad at communication with my poor artist. 

What’s one author you really look up to/draw inspiration from. [If not an author, what person in general]

I don’t read a lot. I know, blasphemy! But my favorite author is Kristen Britain. I am in love with her Green Rider series and was very upset with myself that I couldn’t read Firebrand until I was done writing Descended. I’m always afraid of my ideas leeching from my favorite books so I remove temptation and read less when writing. 

Most of my inspiration though tends to come from people I know in my own life. For example Sox’s speech comes from the trash-talking kids that I was a substitute teacher for in 2018. They were all so much trouble, but they were really the coolest kids I’ve ever met… scared the hell out of me and are now part of my list of official reasons to not have children of my own, but they were really something.


How is Sox different from other characters you’ve written?

Sox is the first character I’ve written who I let stay in first person. She’s also modern. Her story starts in 2018 and the current problems do affect her. Ie. body image, anxiety. Every other thing I’ve written is in a separate fantasy world removed from our own. Sox is very much just a normal kid. And I think that’s what makes her special. She’s also the first character that I’ve allowed to swear in dialogue and narrative and she’s getting more creative with her insults throughout the series.


Which character do you enjoy writing for most in
Descended?

I can’t choose. I love writing Sox’s narrative, but I also love writing her interactions with young Gawain. The music game is my favorite quirky thing because he is that weird guy. And the way he and Sox click over music and have an entire separate conversation just makes me happy. They put a code into their dialogue that has opened me up to so many different music artists and songs. (By the way, always open to more music suggestions!) Gawain has a playlist on Spotify of all the songs named in the series…

But the main group: Sox, Gawain, Henry, Eddel. Henry is great because I like seeing his vulnerabilities. And Eddel because I love writing her strengths. Oh and Murphy… because Murphy. 


Okay, let’s say you’re in the world your book is set in, what would you do for a day?

Cry. That’s a lot of pressure. I don’t wanna be an heir! I’d probably try to steal a horse and run away. 

Let’s be honest though. I’m a history nerd. My first day in Merlin’s Sanctuary I would’ve probably investigated the ruins of Camelot and gotten put in time out… you know… after dramatically stress crying.

 

Where to Buy

Amazon US | B&N Nook Book | Amazon UK

 

Future Giveaway

Hey guys, I’ll also be doing a giveaway of the ebook of this in September! Keep an eye on my twitter to find out more!