Child deaths, witchcraft, violence, body gore, torture
It took me a bit, but I finally read Kingdom of Souls! I plan on catching up on all Rena Barron novels so I can be ready when the sequels come out.
One of the main reasons why I enjoyed this novel a lot was that Barron used the history of the Orisha throughout her novel. I personally have not seen many YA novels with Orisha in it, and I’m so glad that I got to experience this one. If you want to learn a bit more about who the Orisha are and all of the Orisha in the pantheon, you can take a look at this Wikipedia article. Of course, I hope you find a lot more resources to check out.
Arrah is our main character, who is the daughter of two magical people. Her mother is quite possibly on the most powerful people in her community, and she’s pretty intimidating to those that think otherwise. While Arrah’s relationship with her father is wholesome, it’s a lot more difficult to describe. At first glance, it seems like Ati either resents her daughter for not having magic like she does, or that she just doesn’t care about her. It actually made me really sad to see, and whenever Arrah would think about her mother and their relationship, I could understand why she didn’t know exactly where she stood with her mother.
I would say the first half of the novel starts with the children disappearances, and things get really bad when Arrah’s friend Kofi is one of them that ends up going missing. Arrah does what she can to find out what happened to them and how she can get them back. But then the second half is more about Arrah’s sister Efiya… which is definitely a whole different problem on its own.
I think I enjoyed the second plot line a lot more, especially because Arrah had to learn how to deal with her sister, and somehow save the world. Things get really intense as the book goes on, and if you’re not paying close attention, you can miss some things. I was listening to the audiobook – which I loved because the narrator really gave me something to envision as I was listening and driving – but I also feel like I’ll have to go back and read this physically. Possibly take some notes as well so I can have some reference for the sequel. I’m actually really curious to see how the sequel will go, and see how everything gets wrapped up in the last book.
Barron’s writing is beautiful. I really felt immersed in this world, in Arrah’s life with her friends and family, and her journey in trying to survive this world without any magic. I felt so much for Arrah, especially when she was feeling like her mother just completely hated her. There were some times where I felt like she got really emotional to the point that she didn’t make a logical decision, but hey I’m the exact same way. That’s something that I need to work on, so I don’t fault Arrah for that at all. She’s also a teenager, she’s allowed to make some wrong decisions every once in a while.
Oh, did I mention that Rudjek is so charming and dreamy? Ahhh I hope to see him more in the second novel. Actually all of Arrah’s friends tbh. That group was solid and powerful. And they knew how to joke around with one another even when things needed to get serious. That didn’t stop them from taking care of business, you know?