Hi friends, today I’m sharing my thoughts on a very special book that’s releasing today! I’m sure you’ve all been anticipating Reign of the Fallen as much as me, this monster-filled, stabby fantasy absolutely captured my heart with its lovable characters and unique storytelling! I’m thrilled to be participating on this tour hosted by the one and only Brittany’s Book Rambles. And if you read till the end, there might just be a special surprise I threw in! *winky face*
Title: Reign of the Fallen
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Series: Book 1 in a duology
Genre: YA, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Pub. Date: Jan. 23, 2018
Synopsis: 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?
I knew this book was going to be a bit different the moment I turned the first page. Sarah Glenn Marsh thoroughly impressed me with the way she defies almost every YA fantasy trope, and incorporates such unique flavor in her storytelling. This is only my second read of the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this makes it into my top ten of 2018!
Let’s cut right to my favorite part of this book—the characters. Reign of the Fallen reads almost like a contemporary, considering how character-driven the story is (don’t worry, there are still plenty of creepy undead monsters and sword-fights for all of us fantasy addicts out there). Usually I’m hesitant when it comes to a mix of genres in one book, but Sarah pulls it off excellently. I was able to connect so deeply with all of these characters, every one of them either lit my heart up from the inside, or left me wanting to know so much more. Reign carries that “group dynamic” we all love from Six of Crows or the Lunar Chronicles. Each character has a role to play in the grand scheme of things, and their banter always left a smile on my face!
And of course, the romance in this book certainly cannot be underestimated. I went in expecting to read about a sweet, F/F relationship. It’s no doubt that I got that, but I also got SO MUCH MORE. It felt like there are approximately a million and one ships in this book that utterly consumed my heart. As soon as I got done flailing about one couple, I’d have more feels thrown in my face from two other characters who I wanted to be together. It was crazy, and so much fun to read about!
That said, Ms. Marsh did something with her fantasy world that I can’t say I’ve ever read before: all forms of sexuality, gender, race, and identity are treated equally, without a second thought from the characters. Everything is just accepted. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to feel like I was part of a world—even a fantasy one with the Dead roaming about—that’s obtained what many of us fight for everyday of our lives.
Odessa herself is a character I found to be very relatable. She’s scared. And completely unsure of what to do in a world that’s changing for the first time in her life. I love a strong female protagonist, but it was also refreshing to read about a girl that doesn’t deal with her pain and grief in the most productive way. She’s certainly able to fight off monsters and kick some ass, but we also get to see her in her weakest moments, which were some of my favorite.
Now that you’ve heard all about characters, let’s talk about the stunning world in which this book takes place! I absolutely loved the magic system the author created. It’s incredibly easy to understand and almost intuitive, while still leaving a lot open for exploration. Odessa is a necromancer, one of five powers or gifts that a mage can choose to wield. A person’s eye color determines what Sight they have, and each one represents a different Face of the goddess Vaia. I won’t spoil too much else, but I found it to be a lot of fun and great for beginner fantasy readers!
The plot took a very different path than I expected it to, mainly because a large portion of the book focuses on heavy themes such as grief, addiction, consequences of escaping death, and the importance of change and sacrifice. The action does take a small backseat to these issues in the middle of the book, but immediately revs back up again towards the end. It may not be for those who prefer a more traditional approach to fantasy, but I really loved how Reign deviates from the typical story archetype.
Also did I mention this book has an excellent furry friend?! His name is Lysander. He is sassy and floofy and generally the best ever. Call me crazy, but part of me really wants a grizzly bear now.
The ending wrap-ups very nicely, almost to the point where this book could be a standalone. But there are still enough unanswered questions that I’m dying to see what happens next in Odessa’s story!
About the Author
Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys watercolor painting, ghost hunting, and pursuits of the nerd variety, from video games to tabletop adventures. She’s never met an animal or a doughnut she didn’t like. Sarah lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and their tiny zoo of four rescued greyhounds, three birds, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deep, the Reign of the Fallen duology, and several picture books.
I loved this book so much that I really wanted to buy a finished copy and support the author, but I couldn’t justify getting a second copy just for myself. So I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a giveaway!! This way I can share the love for this book even more.
Enter over on my Twitter for a finished copy of Reign of the Fallen! All you have to do is RT and follow!
Plus, you automatically get an extra entry for following my blog!