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!
by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Series: Reign of the Fallen #1
Published on January 23, 2018 by Razorbill
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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?
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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!