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Reign of the Fallen

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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?

384 pages, Hardcover

First published January 23, 2018

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About the author

Sarah Glenn Marsh

18 books769 followers
Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels and children's picture books.

She lives, writes, and paints things in Virginia, supported by her husband, four rescued greyhounds, three birds, and many fish.

If she could, she'd adopt ALL THE ANIMALS.

Oh, and she'd love to be your friend here on Goodreads, or over on Twitter http://twitter.com/SG_Marsh!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,075 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,943 reviews291k followers
February 2, 2018
“There’s nothing you can do, Valoria. I’m not one of your inventions. I’m broken, part of me is missing, and you can’t fix me with copper wires or a piece of string.”

Are you considering this book because it sounds like a dynamic new fantasy with necromancers, action, mystery and a bisexual protagonist? (Also: cover love, let’s not lie.) I was too, but it didn’t quite work for me the way I’d hoped.

I think this is partly a case of an author lingering too long on all the things we don’t care about, and partly a case of an author not developing the reader's emotional attachment enough before spending a huge chunk of the book on depressing and repetitive introspection.

The thing is, Reign of the Fallen is mostly a book about grief. The use of necromancers, zombie-like creatures called Shades, and the romance, are all ways of adding frills, but so much of this book is taken up by Odessa's loss of a loved one. This could have been interesting. I like the idea of exploring a real-world concept in a fantasy setting. Except, in this case, the writing is so very dry that it was hard to become invested.

The opening chapters lack emotion and pull, or, at least, they did for me. There are deadly action scenes that should have been pulse-pounding, but I felt no tension or urgency behind them. There is a deep, never-ending love that gets cut short, but we are never given chance to really care about the relationship so it left me feeling cold as Odessa spiraled into depression and addiction.

For many, many chapters in the middle of the book, the pacing plods along through Odessa's grief. Grief can be a terrible, all-consuming, paralysing thing, but there was so little emotional build-up that it didn’t touch me. I just wished the author would move on from the tiresome moping scenes. And, though I wished the focus on Odessa's potion addiction would end, when it finally did, it all felt more than a little abrupt.

Eventually, things start happening again, but it is like the whole main story was forgotten for many long, boring pages in the middle. When we finally came back to the central plot - someone intentionally creating Shades who have been attacking Karthia's royalty - I was really struggling to care about the plot and characters. I was reading to get to the end.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,157 reviews97.9k followers
July 2, 2018

ARC received via #arcsfortrade on Twitter!
(Thank you so much, the spider queen, Elise! ❤)

I could probably get away with just saying “bisexual necromancer main character” for this review and it would hopefully entice you all enough to pick this up, but this truly was a really enjoyable story that I am very happy I was able to read before release.

“Today, for the second time in my life, I killed King Wylding. Killing’s the easy part of the job, though. He never even bleeds when a sword runs through him. It’s what comes after that gets messy.”

Trigger/content warnings: substance abuse, talk of suicide, violence, death, and sexual content, but nothing explicit whatsoever.

Reign of the Fallen opens up with our main character, Odessa, AKA: Sparrow, because she seamlessly flies between the realms of the living and dead, killing and resurrecting the king of Karthia, so he will be able to rule for even longer than he already has. The people love him though, and he trusts Odessa because she truly is one of the best, yet youngest, necromancers this world has to offer.

In this world, people are able to train to become different types of mages depending on their eye color. And we get to see Odessa and her seven friends doing different things because of their different eye colors.

Odessa –has blue eyes, so she was able to learn how to enter the Deadlands, even though it does come with an extra price. Odessa is also openly bisexual and I was living for it.
Evander – also has blue eyes and is a necromancer. Evander is also Odessa’s lover.
Meredy – has green eyes, so she is a beast master with an adorable bear companion named Lysander! Meredy is also queer and is also Evander’s sister.
Valoria – has brown eyes and is an inventor, but also the princess of Karthia!
Jax – has greener blue eyes, and he seems to be good at tracking, and is best friends with Odessa.
Simeon – has lighter blue eyes, so he is also a necromancer who enters the Deadlands with Jax (because you have to have a partner to enter and be safe!) and is a gay man! Odessa also considers him her brother.
Danial – has hazel eyes, therefore he has the ability to use his magic for healing! He is also a gay male that is dating Simeon, and their relationship was so cute. I love them both.
Kasmira – has dark grey eyes and is a weather mage! She is also a pirate, and is black, and is easily my favorite character besides Meredy! Like, give me an entire book about this soon to be pirate queen, please!

I loved this cast of characters, and I honestly want a book about each of them. But what would a book about necromancers be, if things didn’t start to go wrong? And even though there has been peace between the living people of Kathia and the dead that walk among them for many, many years, we start to figure out that maybe not everyone feels that way.

In this world, even though the dead walk among the living, they are forced to hide every part of their body under clothes. If anyone even catches a glimpse at what is underneath a dead person’s clothes, the dead person will become a shade. Shades are monsters, who can’t control themselves or their actions, and will kill anything that gets in their path. Also, once someone becomes a shade, they can no longer be raised again.

But twists and turns ensue, and Odessa gets forced into the mystery, because she’s one of the best necromancer around. Yet, my biggest criticism of this book is that 1.) there isn’t enough necromancy for my undead-raising-heart, and 2.) I feel like the villain was a little too obvious for my personal liking. I didn’t feel like there was much of a mystery, but I still loved the story so very much, because:

This is one of the most sex positive YA stories I’ve ever read in my entire life. Odessa has sex with more than just one person, and she doesn’t apologize or feel shame for the act itself, ever. We need so many more stories like this and it warmed my heart so very much to read.

This book also heavily talks about substance abuse and addiction. And I have no words for people who think that those elements don’t belong in YA, because that is a reality for so many kids. I know this is a fantasy novel, but it very much highlights the impact that addiction brings, not only to the person consuming the drugs, but to all the people that care about the individual, as well. This discussion is important, and needed, and it meant so very much for me to read.

“Why love hurts when it’s the thing we live for. The thing some people search their entire lives for. The thing some people die for.”

This book also puts trauma, grief, and loss at the forefront of this story. Seeing Odessa’s pain is very hard to read, but that’s because it is very realistically done. I shed so many tears while reading this book, because the loss and sadness feel so very tangible. This book for sure doesn’t shy away from hard topics, but they are all so needed topics, too.

There is also a very big highlight on found family in Reign of the Fallen, and if you guys have been following my reviews for any length of time, you’ll know that that is something very near and dear to my heart. This book is truly a love letter to found families everywhere and how blood truly will never mean anything, but finding people who unconditionally love you means everything.

“If a person can be home, then he’s mine.”

And, maybe my favorite part, this book stars a bisexual on page character. This isn’t a coming out story, no one is mean to Odessa for being bisexual, or causes her grief over it; Odessa is just beautifully bisexual and I don’t even have words for how much I love knowing that young adults, who are trying to discover their sexuality, are going to get a YA fantasy novel where it is normalized, accepted, and celebrated.

This world is magical and unique, these characters are diverse and wonderful, the topics and themes are important and needed, and I recommend this book with all that I am. Odessa is a character that I could very much connect with in my late twenties and this book meant a lot to me for very many reasons. I truly loved this book and I hope so many people pick it up and also feel connected with Odessa’s journey. I also cannot wait to see whatever else Sarah Glenn Marsh comes up with, because she’s also one of the sweetest and kindest people I follow on social media. I hope you all pick up Reign of the Fallen this Tuesday!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
June 17, 2019
Introductory series books continue to sort-of-entertain-sort-of-disappoint me... and yet I love them anyway. Because oh boy, I loved a lot of concepts and ideas here. Odessa's story of grief and addiction, a romance I enjoyed, fantastic worldbuilding around change... and yet, I really feel like this book was a too-much-buildup beginning to what I'm hoping will be a sublime series... and yet here I am, giving this series as a whole a four and recommending it.

Odessa's character is the absolute star of this novel. Her arc around addiction and grief is so sublime and A+, I don't even know what to say. And not only that, but she is a badass. Some of the other side characters, like Valoria and Kasmira, were definitely interesting as well and I honestly wanted more pagetime from all of them.

I want to avoid spoilers, so skip this if you really want to avoid knowing anything. But I also want to tell you that this has a major romance between two girls, despite first impressions. As for how that romance played out - I liked it. The two characters in question have a lot of chemistry and work well as a couple. All that being said, it took me a while to really the tension between them. Maybe the issue is I kept looking out for romance between Odessa and every other character, because this author is - as I've noticed since reading book two - so so good at writing side characters. An easy resolution? The endgame romantic interest should've shown up at least once towards the beginning of the book.

I loved the ideas here - a city of discriminated-against necromancers, dead returning, poverty and social dynamics - but I found the world itself forgettable as a certified fantasy map nerd. That being said, there were a few thematic elements within the worldbuilding I absolutely loved - the idea of change being considered a bad thing within this kingdom struck me as especially interesting. Just be aware that the focus here lies on themes, not detail.

Quite good. I expected the writing of this novel to be somewhat mediocre, honestly, considering it's only a second book, but I thought the writing here was lovely, with several moments that just made me INHALE. The opening line of this series is quite literally one of the greatest opening lines ever.

I've been a middle-book person since the beginning of time. I know, I know, call me crazy, but middle book syndrome is such a myth. If the second book doesn't reach farther, go deeper, push at boundaries more than book one, book three will almost certainly be worse. The Fifth Wave, anyone? Divergent? So honestly, I'm not surprised book one was a disappointment. But do I wish this could've been more developed and less full of buildup? Yes. I weirdly think this could actually work as a standalone; just, you know, a three-star one rather than a four-star, and I'm glad this series continued on.

Eh. I have to say, while I solidly enjoyed the plot of this book, it didn't feel like anything particularly special. There were several twists I completely saw coming, many of which seemed as if you're supposed to see it coming. On one hand, that's good - the author doesn't treat readers as if they're idiots. But on the other hand, it just felt like a very un-mindblowing read to me.

BOTTOM LINE: Give it a try if the concept sounds interesting, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. But don't raise your expectations too high if you're used to loving series more as they go on and less in their opening stages.

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Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,622 reviews5,059 followers
April 25, 2022
#1 Reign of the Fallen ★★★★★
#2 Song of the Dead ★★★★★

Reign of the Fallen was one of my most anticipated releases of this year, and it did not disappoint at all. The world of Karthia was so unique and intriguing, and the cast of characters were diverse and tremendously lovable. More than anything, this story took me by surprise with how dark it was; I knew going into it that it involved necromancy, but I never expected how much it would focus on grief and healing.

If you asked me what the primary focus of this book is, I wouldn’t say it’s zombies, or necromancy – I would say that its primary focus is how to move on from the loss of a loved one, and how to find ourselves again after losing ourselves in our pain.

“What if our magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?”

Karthia & magic
The world of Karthia feels small, but well-developed. It has reached a standstill due to the King’s fear of change; his reluctance for progress has halted any forms of inventions or medical advancements, as well as refusing any heirs from taking the throne. Instead, King Wylding and his court reign eternal as the shrouded Dead.

The Dead need me far more than the living, and I, them. Without Dead to raise, I’d be nothing but an orphan. As long as the Dead are around, I’m their Sparrow.

Alongside the living and the Dead are those with magic, and I genuinely loved the setup of the magic system in the world of Karthia: individuals have inclinations for specific abilities based on their eye colors. Blue eyes lend to necromancy, while green eyes are for beast-masters, grey eyes indicate weather mages, and so on. Not every individual chooses to use their gifts, but those who do, train to become Masters and are regarded with the utmost respect.

There’s an old saying that sparrows always find their way home.

Odessa, grief, & addiction
Our narrator, Odessa, is a necromancer bearing the title “Sparrow”, as she’s incredibly talented at finding her way home (which is not always an easy task in the ever-shifting Deadlands). Not only is she proficient, but she’s a delightful narrator: she’s strong, fierce, passionate, loving, and loyal – all of these, at times, to a fault. During the events of the book, Odessa loses someone very dear to her, and that’s where the depiction of grief comes in.

The sun still rises and sets, like it always has. It seems cruel that it wouldn’t stop, just for a little while, to show how much darker the world is without them in it.

I have read so many books about grief that I thought I’d seen every portrayal, good or bad, but Reign took me entirely by surprise. Odessa’s grief is written so genuinely, so authentically, that despite my personal ambivalent feelings for the character who passed away, I found myself mourning them for her. Her heartbreak oozes off the pages, and when she becomes addicted to the potions that numb her aches and offer her comforting hallucinations, you can’t help but understand why she’s using them as a coping mechanism. It’s the only way Odessa knows how to survive for quite some time, and because it feels so raw and is built up so thoroughly, her inevitable success in conquering her addiction made me want to jump up and cheer for her.

The sadness in his gaze when he looks at me – which the blue tonic never let me see – is just one more reason I’ll fight to never touch another drop.

One thing I would like to comment on is that I’ve seen other reviewers say they felt it was unnecessary to depict addiction in a YA novel or a fantasy story, and I’d like to offer another perspective on that. Substance abuse addiction is a very real issue that humans face everyday, in all walks of life and all parts of the world. It is tremendously misunderstood, and many people struggling with addictions are looked down upon, as though they have intentionally brought it upon themselves. Reign showcases a perfect example of how easy it can be to become addicted to a substance, especially in an instance like Odessa’s, when the tonics she craves are the only thing that can keep her from drowning in her grief and guilt.

I strongly believe one of the greatest things about books – and the YA community, as of late – is the opportunity to normalize subjects that are viewed as “taboo”, and by normalizing them, readers can learn how to empathize and to understand. Having watched my loved ones’ lives fall to pieces due to addictions, Odessa’s struggles resonated so soundly with me, and I am eternally grateful to Sarah for being willing to go there.

That’s what made me so well-suited for walking in the Deadlands, they said. My love of life.

friends & diversity
Besides Odessa, this story is absolutely filled to the brim with side characters, so lovable that they deserved their own sections:
• Odessa’s boyfriend, Evander, who frustrated me at times, early in the story, but is incredibly caring and a talented necromancer
• There’s Jax, who plays a bit of the “big jock” stereotype at times, but is a formidable ally and someone that Odessa never regrets having in her corner
• Kasmira, the beautiful ship captain whose preferred pasttimes seem to be trading illicit goods (like coffee beans) for gold and a bit of flirting (no lie, I shipped her and Odessa so hard at the beginning!)
• Valoria, the princess, is far brighter and more innovative than any “princess in the castle” stereotype you’ve ever seen
• Odessa’s adopted brother Simeon, and his partner Danial, are the precious cinnamon rolls of the story, and I loved them both to pieces and wanted so much more interaction with them
• Meredy, the clever, fiery beast-master, and her bonded companion, an intuitive grizzly bear named Lysander, with a personality as big as his body

I loved how diverse this cast of characters was. Sarah wrote a world in which racial tensions are nonexistent (on that note, Kasmira is black, and while I’m unsure of Odessa’s race, she describes her skin as being a dark brown in the beginning), and heteronormativity is never mentioned once – Odessa is bisexual (own-voice rep), Meredy and Kasmira are both attracted to women, and Simeon and Danial are gay. I loved how completely normalized and casual the representation was! As a queer woman, I live for normalized rep, especially in fantasy novels.

I only cry because their love is still with me, a familiar ache in my chest. I’ll carry it with me, always, something no one can ever erase.

final thoughts
I went into this book with a strong suspicion that I would love it, and I absolutely did. I think I was only a few chapters in the first time I predicted that I would be giving it 5 stars in the end, and here we are. I thought this was a phenomenal beginning to a series, and I cannot wait to see where Sarah takes Odessa in the next piece of the story. If you enjoy dark fantasy and authentic representation, plus a lot of necromancy and dead things, do not walk, run to pick up a copy of this incredible story.

Thank you to Samm for sending me an ARC of this book! My opinions were entirely my own. All quotes come from an unfinished ARC and may differ from the final product; also, some quotes have been slightly changed to remove names and spoilers.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,413 reviews77.5k followers
February 22, 2018

I'll be the first to raise my hand and admit that I agreed to review this book, at least initially, based on a ferocious case of cover love with a side dish of FOMO. I know that the fear of missing out isn't a valid reason to pick up a book, but I'll bet it happens more times than we'd like to admit in our journey as readers. COME ON- look at the cover, in all it's pink, shimmery glory! <3 I've also been actively searching out writers in the NoVa area to support, and it just so happens Sarah Glenn Marsh is practically my neighbor! Finally, there has been so much hype surrounding this book pre-publication that I had to find out if it was really all it's been cracked up to be. Honest truth? I found this to be a solid start to a new series that I'm committed to continuing on.

Obviously zombies have been popular subject matter well before The Walking Dead was created (although I'm sure the series helped spread the buzz to mainstream level), but if you're expecting TWD level chaos, you won't find that here. Instead, picture a more elegant, court intrigue form of zombies and you'll have the right idea. All the rules have changed here, giving the story a more complex and unique flow than you're typical chasers of brain matter. In fact, these zombies' mental facilities are completely intact, so long as they keep their decaying physical form shrouded completely from the living's naked eye. No immodest clothing for these suckers; show a little leg and you've got a shade on your hand. Ok, so I misled you a bit; shades are actually the zombies here. These nasty creatures feast on the living and undead alike and they are a huge problem for the necromancers. Someone is purposefully turning the undead into monsters, but who? And why? YOU MUST READ TO FIND OUT!

Going into this book, I tried to stay away from too many reviews or specifics, but it seemed that most readers who didn't enjoy this story came from a place of expecting something other than what Reign Of The Fallen is. You'd think that there would be loads of action-packed fight scenes and nail biting suspense as to what is the driving factor behind the deliberate changing of shades, but you'd be wrong. This one is a slow burn people, and as others before me have stated, this is at heart a character study on grief and loss. Maybe I was able to enjoy this more than others due to my being aware of this going in, but I found the writing just exquisite. Our main character suffers a traumatic loss in the first third of the book, and as we follow her journey of working through (and dare I say past) this grief, we follow a format of writing that is both delicate and raw, almost like we are at times walking on egg shells and then jumping into an angry, boiling pot of water. I must have picked this up at just the right time, because the broken grief that Odessa felt soared clearly off the pages and into my soul.

While there were a few other side notes I felt unnecessary and I did figure out the "who" and "why" early on, as a whole I really enjoyed this. Reign Of The Fallen contained fantastic NATURAL lgbt representation. When I was discussing what I was reading and who the characters were with Mr. Humphrey in the car, he pointed out that more major characters than not were on that spectrum, something I hadn't even picked up on as I read. Usually, I feel like books pick out the one gay character and paint them so flamboyantly (Look! I'm gay! I included a gay person in my story! I'm diverse!), but here it was just natural and not centered around "coming out". I'm still digesting the ending, as almost this entire book read as a standalone and the final chapter connected to where I assume the next installment will continue, but it appears to be new subject matter with continuing characters. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it almost a week ago, so I feel that's a sign that this is a fantasy that will stay on my book shelf and a series I'd like to continue on with. Recommended to those looking to spice up the usual trope-filled, YA fantasy with something heavy but with heart.

*Many thanks to Page Habit for providing my copy, as well as the other items in the January YA Box, to review. I was able to read Reign Of The Fallen with all of the author's private notes posted throughout, and I highly recommend reading it this way! If you'd like to learn more about Page Habit and the boxes they provide, please visit their site here: https://pagehabit.com/
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
655 reviews3,853 followers
February 9, 2018
Yet as long as I'm alive, I have to keep going. One step after another through this tunnel until I'm back in Grenwyr City to rejoin the battle, a little more broken than before. .. For my friends and the Dead and the helpless. For me.
All I can do is keep fighting


Reign of the Fallen was one of my most highly anticipated 2018 releases and IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. While it wasn't the perfect book, it had so so so many things I like - and set up the series in such a way I just KNOW I'm going to be so invested in the next books.

Reign of the Fallen is a high fantasy featuring necromancers, magic and a whole lot of living dead people. Basically, our main character Odessa is a necromancer - this means she can go into the Deadlands, find the souls of the deceased and bring them back to life. The catch? Anyone who's come back to life must never been looked at by a living person. If they are, they turn into a deadly and uncontrollable shade who can never be resurrected again.

The world of this book had some really interesting elements. The idea that change was considered a bad thing (hence the constant resurrection of the dead) was so interesting. I also liked how the magic worked, especially the magic. Seeing beast masters, weather mages, healers, necromancers and more all in one book was also really fun. I would love to see some of the worldbuilding elements expanded in book two though. I think sometimes the geography of the world was a little unclear and it was missing some atmospheric/descriptive work in the setting that made it hard for me to always picture the setting - especially in the final scenes in the heart of the city.

MY FAVOURITE PART OF THIS BOOK WAS THE CHARACTERS THOUGH I literally adored the characters !! You know books where you instantly get invested in all the characters and could just like, read an entire book of them hanging out doing nothing. Thats how I feel about this. The things that happened to these characters definitely managed to tug A LOT at my heart strings. I was so nervous about what would happen to them all and that constant stress over their wellbeing kept me reading.

Odessa is the main character and she is so incredibly cool and badass. She's based off of Korra from The Legend of Korra, so it makes sense. Odessa is highly capable and badass, but I also liked she was flawed and was shown to have a personality that existed outside of her capabilities. Some reviews say odessa is weak due to events in the middle of the book, but I think her strength to persevere despite setbacks truly highlights her capabilities and I LOVE HER. Also, she's black and bisexual is which THE BEST.

Evander, Jax and Simeon were such an awesome friend group and I loved their banter and dynamic with eachother. I literally love books with an ensemble cast so this made me so happy. I loved the scenes with them all together most and I really really would love more of those in book two. LIKE JUST GIVE ME THEM HAVING OUT BEING FRIENDS. I am so invested in all these characters. I also love that Simeon was gay and was dating Danial THEY WERE SO CUTE

Kasmira, Meredy and Valoria were all really interesting and I liked that they were there to weight out how many of the Necromancers were men. Valoria is a princess and inventor, which I thought was so cool. Definitely something we don't see much. Kasmira is a pirate who wasn't given as much page-time, but is set to appear more in the sequel. She's a weather mage, and also a black woman. I hope her magic is explored more. However, when she did appear her banter with Odessa was always fun and honestly flirty and if I didn't ship the actual canon ship I'd ship this. Meredy is Evander's sister and a beast master with a massive grizzly bear called Lysander and honestly? she's the best. I just wish she'd appeared earlier, because my slow burn loving ass wasn't fully invested in the Odessa/Meredy thing when it started happening. (DON'T GET ME WRONG, I LOVE THEM), I just wish it'd been ... more

Which is essentially my issue (?) with all these characters. I love them, but I wanted more from them. I would love to see every character and relationship explored more heavily. Danial didn't get much development beside being Simeon's boyfriend, Kasmira didn't appear enough, and Meredy needed more page time. I am hoping in the sequels we get to see much much more from everyone because I think thats what this book needs to really BUMP IT UP THE STAR

Romance and Representation

So as I've said earlier, Odessa is bisexual (which is ownvoices) and in this book dates a man, and then a woman. Although this isn't necessary for depicting bi people, I LIKED that Odessa was shown in a relationship with a man and a woman. It was really nice to see how explicit this book was in showing Odessa's attraction to multiple genders - I especially liked this line about Odessa: "Simeon only liked kissing boys, but I liked kissing both girls and boys"

So I loved the depiction of bisexuality, and it's amazing to get some ov bi rep in fantasy. Romance wise, I really enjoyed the romance between Evander and Odessa (mostly because I'm a sucker for the 'we've been friends forever and then started dating' trope.) But I would have liked the second romance to have been developed for a longer period of time, or to have had more page time. I think introducing the LI in the second half of the book was a bit of a waste because we lost lots of relationship development time. But I definitely still liked the ship and I can't wait to see more of it in book two

But one thing I did want to say is I love how sex positive this book is. Odessa sleeps with multiple people but it's a non-issue and I thought that was so freakin cool.

Other representation wise: this book features an ensemble cast of different ethnicities and sexualities. Daniel and Simeon are both gay, Odessa is bi. Kasmira is black and so is Odessa. Meredy is a lesbian and had a girlfriend.


Reign of the Fallen definitely does cover the necromancer, magic business we were promised. But a chunk in the middle is also about dealing with grief and focusses on addiction and loss. This aspect was unexpected and I can see why people were disappointed not knowing it'd be such a large focus. I actually really liked this part of the book. I think it was an issue this book actually handled really well, and it helped to show the development of Odessa's character.

I did guess the plot twist of this book loong before it came around, which was a shame, but also didn't ruin it. The plot twist isn't .. that twisty. It's not revealed as a massive shock, so it didn't feel like I'd missed out on something. Despite the reveal being clear to me, I still really enjoyed the progression of the reveal and how the characters reacted to the events.

Also, this book is written in first person point of view, which isn't my favourite for fantasy, but I think it really worked with this story, since so much of it focussed on Odessa's thoughts and struggles.

I knew living with the Dead was impossible. Death is an ending, not a new beginning.

To sum up: I really enjoyed Reign of the Fallen. It had an interesting premise and a cast of loveable characters that made me instantly invested in the outcome of the events. The characters really compelled me to finish this book because I HAD TO KNOW IF THEY'D BE OKAY, which, actually happens to me the most important aspect of a story for me. Most my favourites books are ones where the wellbeing of the characters was the most important thing to me.

This book was missing some elements and finesse that would have made it perfect - some more in depth worldbuilding, a more drawn out romance and more development of the side characters, but overall I really enjoyed everything in this book. AND I NEED THE NEXT ONE NOW. I can just tell this is going to be such a good, complex and well written series with the BEST characters and I'm so excited for this series to expand.

oh my god I literally loved this so much ?! It would have been five stars except I had a fewww minor issues (and most of them are related to personal preference) BUT OVERALL I LOVE THIS SO MUCH OH MY GOD

also a massive shout out to the author Sarah Glen Marsh for sending me some signed bookmarks and character cards I AM FOREVER APPRECIATIVE

ANYWAY, if you're looking to start an epic new fantasy series with incredible characters and magic and necromancers and a diverse cast and an f/f relationship START THIS

me thinking about Odessa, Jax, Simeon, Danial and Evander
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
422 reviews1,623 followers
February 28, 2019
2.5 Stars

"Your mother brought you into this world as a whole person,” the princess huffs, pulling so hard that I slide to the edge of the bed. “And last I checked, you still are one. No matter what or who you’ve lost. Now get”—she jerks on my arms—"up!”


^two words that will make me read almost any book.

Focusing on Odessa, this story takes place in a kingdom where those born with blue eyes are given the ability to enter a shadow realm and pull souls back to life, but it's complicated and if something goes wrong the undead can turn into a rabid zombie thing called a 'shade.'

So... I was expecting a lot more death magic? This changes tone rapidly a few chapters in and evolves into something about inner strength, grief and addiction. The resulting story was very different than I expected... and worked in some ways-- not so much others.


- Did I mention the MC is a bisexual necromancer yet??
- Awesome theme of finding strength within yourself and accepting change
- Valoria is a princess who wants to invent things, a ride-or-die-friend, and was also just precious?
- Odessa is obsessed with coffee, and honestly same.
- Interesting family dynamics
- Backstories slid in naturally while avoiding info dumps
- Has the guts to tackle heavy topics like addiction head-on


- Lack of worldbuilding
- Seriously there was like none. I have a brief understanding of the magic system and how the kingdom hates change and that's kinda it.
- Fairly predictable
- Not cliche, but the plot/villain felt really familiar.
- Inappropriate, grief-fueled moments between characters previously described as "siblings" that are then completely forgotten about and never mentioned
- No emotional connection. I'm honestly not sure why, but I felt extremely detached from Odessa. There'd be some really intense stuff happening, but the writing felt over-the-top in these moments and I just couldn't believe it.


Starts some important discussions-- but doesn't add anything to them? It felt strangely hollow, even with its enjoyable parts.

Buddy Read with some lovelies over at Sapphic Squad!
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,466 reviews9,340 followers
July 28, 2021
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Oh my goodness, I loved this book!

Reign of the Fallen follows Odessa, a master necromancer in the kingdom of Karthia. Odessa is a strong character right out the gate.

The action begins quickly and never lets up.

I read it so fast, racing to the conclusion. Throughout the course of the story my pulse was raised, my heart crushed and my spirits soared over a full range of emotions.

The magic system is well developed. I loved the necromancers, healers, beast masters and royals. The world creation was vivid and believable. The villains of the story, called Shades were creepy enough to keep me glued to the pages.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves YA fantasy and look forward to seeing what new horizons will await us in Book 2!!!

A big thank you to the publisher, Razorbill, and to NetGalley, for giving me the opportunity to read this book early. As always, it is appreciated and I look forward to hearing what other Readers think.
Profile Image for Silvia .
635 reviews1,388 followers
February 3, 2018
I enjoyed reading this a lot! It's been a while since I completely enjoyed a book while being aware of its (admittedly few) flaws (or at least of the things I don't like about it).

☠️ World:
The world was really interesting and although I wasn't (and still am not) as in love with the concept of necromancers as everyone seems to be, I found the idea of a necromancer main character extremely cool and unheard of.

On this note, I loved the magic system overall. To sum it up briefly, everyone is born with abilities that are determined by eye color. Blue eyes for necromancers, green eyes for beast mages, brown for inventors, grey for weather mages and I forgot some but you get the idea. One still needs to train in order to be able to use their powers appropriately, and some careers are more popular (one of the least popular profession is being a necromancer) while others are downright outlawed (inventors).

This was a really unique concept and I love how even though the main plot is pretty much wrapped up there's still more to be explored about the world and the magic system itself.

Another aspect I loved of this world was the cultural conflict of change vs stasis (and the Living vs the Dead) and loved that the villain has a lot of valid points and you're actually meant to sort of side with their opinion (not with their actions).

💀 Characters:
I don't have too much to say here, mainly I just loved the characters, I thought they were well written and their voices original - they all had things about themselves that made them *them*, even the secondary ones.

The main character, Odessa, went through a lot for one book and I like how her overall arc was handled. One thing I didn't like was how

☠️ Themes:
This book has a lot of heavy themes, including death and addiction. I thought both of these were portrayed well.

One of the other themes is the found family, which is one of my favorite things in fiction, but I felt like this aspect could have been improved. Odessa talks a lot about how these people are her family but then I found that sometimes she didn't really act like they were.

Another theme I absolutely adored was the one I briefly mentioned above, which is something that molded the entire plot: change vs stasis, new vs old. In a world where the Dead are not only among the Living but the King himself is Dead, it's not a surprise that change would scare them. We see this in old people all the time, and it can only become extreme for Deads who are centuries old. This means that nothing new can ever be made, regardless of its importance and use. It's a little bit extreme and I would have maybe liked it more if there was a bit more nuance to this, but I really liked how everything was presented.

💀 Representation and romance:
There are no labels on page but Odessa is bisexual; Meredy is not specified queer; Simeon is gay; Danial is not specified queer.

The main romances are m/f and f/f, and there's a side m/m couple.

Minor spoilers in this paragraph:
Odessa is in a m/f relationship at the beginning of the book and in a f/f one at the end. When it comes to the second relationship, I liked it but I felt like it needed more development. Also the premise of how it started made me uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything problematic about it or anything like that, and I'm not saying it was unrealistic either, but personally I found that things happened a little too soon and with no other ground other than "we share a lot of traumatic stuff". I eventually grew to like it well enough and it was a well done slow burn.
End of spoilers.

☠️ Writing:
I think the writing was good enough but - and this is a completely personal preference - I don't think the first person present tense narrative works well with this type of fantasy, especially when it comes to describing dramatic/action scenes. This was advertized to be very dark and it definitely was, but I think the MC narrating everything herself made it actually more dull and detached. I don't know, I just can't fully feel the dramatic parts if she also constantly has to describe, somewhat objectively, what's going on around her. I don't really know how to explain it well but yeah, I just felt like first person past tense or third person work better *for me* for this type of story, but as you see I still liked it a lot.


Overall I think this was a really good start to a series that promises to become relevant in the genre YA fantasy. I trust it will only improve from here!

TWs: drug abuse and addiction, violence, gore (I think?), talk of suicide, death
Profile Image for tappkalina.
642 reviews391 followers
August 22, 2022
If the cover isn't enough for you to hit 'want to read' (but honestly I don't know what more do you want - you are hard to please), I will list some things:
- necromancers
- the realistic way the main character dealt with grief
- interesting, dark world
- the friend group! - they are so soft with each other, but their bond is so strong
- the romance (f/f) - it was so realistic and so painful and so romantic
- bi main character (she has a fiance at the beginning)

(I can't find the artist, but it's the official character art.)
Profile Image for Sarah Glenn Marsh.
Author 18 books769 followers
October 6, 2017
Hi there, and thank you so much for your interest in my book!

Since this is a space for readers, I will be leaving it very shortly--but before I go, I wanted to offer a few warnings to anyone who needs them, as REIGN does contain some sensitive subject matter:

*Violence (throughout)
*Substance abuse/addiction (about 1/3 of the way in, continuing through the better part of the story)

Again, thank you, truly, for your interest in this story and world. Should you choose to enter Karthia and meet Odessa and her friends, I hope the journey is a memorable one.

Love from,
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
909 reviews13.8k followers
June 16, 2021
This book was fine, just upsettingly predictable. I did like the main character and the world, but there were parts of this that dragged and the pacing/storyline in general was shaky. Every chapter felt like the author introduced something new that we were potentially going to focus on, but ultimately it decided to go down the most cliché path. I would have liked the romance a bit more if the pacing of it was slowed down, but I still was really happy to read a non-contemporary book where liking the same gender was normalized. I doubt I'll pick up the sequel, but this ended on a satisfying note.
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
610 reviews478 followers
December 1, 2019
If I’d have to choose only one word to describe Reign of the Fallen, I’d choose the word unique.
In my life, I’ve read many books (almost 500), but I’ve never read anything similar to this story.

Reign of the Fallen is a novel set in a world where people after their death can come alive, with the help of people who’s job is to take them out of the Deadland into their real world.
As you can imagine, most people that rule this world have already died many times.
However cool that might sound, there is one catch: if a dead person stays “alive” for too long, there’s a chance for her to become a Shadow, which is basically some sort of evil zombie that eats and kills everything and everyone.
So therefore, after some time, a person who is Undead (that’s the word for a person who was brought back to life) should be killed and then brought back to life again.
As you can imagine, the circle goes on and on and on…

As I already stated, reading Reign of the Fallen was a pleasant surprise since I have never read anything like that.
It took me some time to figure out how this world really works, but I thing that the world building was done great and I really enjoyed all the elements of it (also, I couldn’t help but think how this world must smell really bad!).

The story follows Sparrow who is the best in bringing Dead people back to life. She works for the king and she lives and breathes her job. She wouldn’t know who she’d be without it.

Sparrow was an interesting character, to say the least. She made some decisions that really left me confused, but I have to stress out that after everything that has happened to her, she was very lost and confused herself.
She was pretty selfish and self centered, and even though that is a turn off in a way, it is also a very realistic thing, because it is in human nature to centre the world around your own self.

There was one situation in the book that I just have to mention.
We got to see how a character got herself addicted to drugs, and how painful it was to take herself off it, and I have never saw anything similar in ya fantasy.
It was kind of silly, to be honest, but in the same time, I welcome it.

I also have to emphasize that this novel has a great diversity representation.

When I look at Reign of the Fallen as a whole, I honestly think it would have been a better book if it was an adult fantasy novel.

Overall, I am glad I gave this book a chance because it was like a breathe of fresh air, but when I look at the whole picture, it was a solid read.
I would still recommend it, though!

Read this and more reviews on my blog https://bookdustmagic.com
Profile Image for Chelsies Reading Escape.
631 reviews362 followers
April 24, 2018
Ever since I heard about this book Ive been dying to read it. I saw bisexual necromancer and I was sold. In Reign of the Fallen there are necromancers who train to bring people back from the dead. However if any part of the dead persons skin is seen by living eyes they turn into a monstreous zombie called a Shade. With the help of her friends our main character Odessa, also known as Sparrow, is hunting one of the deadliest Shades shes ever heard of while trying to discover if theres more sinister reasons for the Shades appearance.

The plot was compelling, but I wish the author hadnt made it obvious who was responsible for the Shade attacks. The writing flowed nicely and the pace was engaging with all the action going on, but the first half didnt completely grip me. I still read this book quickly so it wasnt anything major. The world and magic system were incredibly fascinating. On top of the authors brilliant take on necromancy we get different types of awesome magical abilities, like beast and weather mages. I also thought it was interesting how any kind of change was banned by the King.

I loved the LGBT representation and Im happy that we also got some addiction representation, but I personally didnt agree with the way her recovery was approached. I tried not to let it bother me though since this is a fantasy. I liked how the main character was flawed without being unlikeable. Im not usually a fan of hate to love romances, but I enjoyed how it was done in this book. The progression of Sparrows romantic feelings was wonderfully messy and realistic. I could also relate to Sparrows grief since Ive been dealing with it myself lately. It made this book even more impactful for me.

I was surprised by how many side characters I got attached to and how much I loved their little friend group. I liked how they all had distinct personalities. Princess Valoria was an amazing inventor and Meredia was a phenomenal beast mage. I freaking loved her bear. Simons humour brought some delightful levity to this dark story and Danials character arc was lovely to read about. I adored their complexe and beautiful relationship. The last 2 characters Evander and Jax were the muscle of the group, but they had a lot more layers to them.

It was nice not to have the King be the antagonist for a change. All the deaths were heartbreaking, but in the best possible way. I wish the book would have been a bit more unpredictable, but overall I still really enjoyed it. This book wrapped up nicely, but Im anticipating some piraty stuff in the second book and its getting me real excited to get my hands on it. I need more fantasy books with accurate bisexual representation. Plus the cover of this book is like my spirit animal. I absolutely love it. I cant wait to see what the sequels cover is going to look like.
Profile Image for  ••Camila Roy••.
161 reviews49 followers
June 30, 2018
RATING: 3.75/5

Thank God for decimal ratings. Sometimes you just can’t express how you felt with an even number.

What’s this about you ask? 👉🏻In a world where the Dead can be raised by trained warriors called Necromancers, a conspiracy threatens to tear down the realm of the living.

This was enjoyable. I liked the characters (YAY for bisexual main characters!!!), the writting style was good and I liked the world-building.

However, I feel like the concept had sooooo much potential but it was poorly executed. The conflict got resolved way too easily and honestly, it was more about grief and relationships than anything else.
Hey I’m a big romantic, okay? And I can appreciate books about grief (or any book that tackles tough subjects). But when I read fantasy I always expect more.

For me fantasy equals magic ,action, fictional worlds, etc. Something that takes you out of your mundane world and into a new reality. But if you’re going to give me a fantasy that’s mainly romance, and not have it reach its full potential because it's too focused on building sexual tension, then that’s just disappointing.

Would I recommend? I think you’ll enjoy it despite of its flaws. It’s not a bad book.
Profile Image for Kerri.
Author 16 books23.2k followers
September 11, 2017
official blurb to come. spoiler: i loved it!
Profile Image for Taylor.
389 reviews134 followers
September 11, 2018
3.5 out of 5

"Life will be hard and painful as long as I cling to it, but there's beauty in it, too."

Even though it's set in the fantasy realm of Karthia -- a world centered on necromancers, Shades (read: zombies), and genetically predisposed mages -- this diverse novel still manages to remind you of home. Full of love, loss, grief, coups, and magic it reminds us that "every monster can be beaten" as long as we try.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, and I applaud the author for taking bold and tear-inducing plot twists. Full RTC.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,110 reviews301 followers
April 11, 2018
3.5 stars.

Overall I liked the storyline and the characters. The subject matter was pretty serious (dealing with grief and drug addiction), but I thought the writing was a bit...lightweight? I felt like I wanted a bit more depth. That might be something that comes as Marsh matures as an author.
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,401 followers
February 22, 2018

Trigger Warnings: murder, grief, addiction

Reign of the Fallen was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. Did I actually know what the book was about when I started anticipating it? No. I never read blurbs. I’d seen the hype for it growing on Twitter and I fell in love with the cover. A pretty pink book with a skull on the front? Sign me the fuck up.

So, what is Reign of the Fallen about? Basically, necromancy went wrong. I don’t mean that as in the main characters are here making mistakes but just the fact necromancy has created a world where people with enough money are able to come back after dying. The only catch is that they must wear a shroud in order to keep from becoming a monster. If the shroud is removed they will become a monster. In this book, someone is removing the shrouds of the dead in order to make these monsters and create fear of necromancy.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy Reign of the Fallen it was incredibly diverse and a story like no other I have read. It tackles issues like grief and addiction, as well as second chance romance. It also shows how important a group of friends are and doesn’t shy away from discussing the selfish actions of the main character.



The world building is indescribable. The development of it throughout the book draws you in. It is honestly so well executed. Reign of the Fallen is a world like no other and the author takes great care to make sure you will never confuse her world with one of the many others in books. The depth of the necromancy and the Deadlands is honestly… I don’t know, I’m speechless.


Now, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews but I love selfish characters. I hate when characters are cookie cutter and never think for themselves. I have been in a lot of situations in life where I can either be selfish or get myself killed. So, it is amazing to see other characters making the choices. Odessa is an incredibly selfish main character. She doesn’t care about anyone after certain events in the book and ends up reliant on a drug (in which the withdrawal was represented to be painful).


Mainly from Odessa (because the side characters really weren’t incorporated enough) we see that she grows. She doesn’t remain the selfish necromancer who believes she’s invincible. Really. The writing that shows this depth doesn’t read like a debut novel and I think that’s the beauty of it. We are left absolutely in awe of how mature the writing style is.


I can’t really speak on this point because I am lucky enough to have never lost anyone in my life. I have had family members pass but I was never close to them – I’ve seen my mum battle with grief though. She lost many friends while she was young and when I was younger she lost my great grandparents who raised her. She’s still struggling almost 15 years later. So, I feel Odessa’s grief throughout – because it never leaves – was really well done. It really showed how all surrounding and life-altering it is. One life ends and sometimes the people around them aren’t ready for it and the struggle is incredibly raw. That’s the word to describe the grief in this book raw. The author doesn’t shy away from the difficult topic at all.



So, I’ve complimented Reign of the Fallen a lot. But, there have to be some flaws considering it didn’t hit that five-star mark. One of the big issues was that the story was lacking something. Obviously, it’s a debut and it’s the first novel in a series that never falls perfectly with me. This book is very clearly centred on setting up events for the later books. The world building felt like the main focus of this book, along with establishing the characters and their motives for the later story. Which is fine, but at points leaves this particular book feeling a little dull. Especially since the big twist was kind of an easy guess.


This may have been the biggest problem for me with Reign of the Fallen. I wasn’t feeling either romance’s that occurred. This section will include spoilers. So if you want to avoid that skip to the next point. The romance shifts from the original male to his sister. Which is fine, I’m all for bisexual characters getting to shine. However, I’m not on board with Odessa dating his sister. Her best friend and first loves sister. I don’t know. It really just rubbed me the wrong way. Especially with how fast she was able to move on. It felt once the sister was introduced she was barely thinking about him. I just really struggled with it and wasn’t comfortable. I would have been much happier if Odessa had ended up with the woman who was giving her coffee beans (which was what I originally thought was going to happen). It just made me feel a little icky, which is probably stupid but I just couldn’t get on board with it. End spoilers.


All the side characters are introduced early on in the book, which I was excited about. I figured that meant they would play large parts in the book. Incorrect. They are simply pushed to the side in favour of the romance and revenge plot that is at play. Which could be good if the side characters got the chance to play with these plots. I really just feel as if they were pushed aside without good reason and it really frustrated me. I wanted so much more. And, with the ending of Reign of the Fallen, I’m worried I won’t get more.

Overall, Reign of the Fallen is definitely worth the hype for its originality and its excitement. There are some issues but I think I’m being a little nitpicky with the book. I would really recommend it to everyone because it is worth the read and you definitely won’t feel like you wasted your time when you finish.

Also, if you're looking to buy any books over at Book Depository, feel free to use my affiliate link! I gain a small 5% commission at no extra cost to you.
Profile Image for Sarah Marie.
1,790 reviews225 followers
January 5, 2018
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

First book in the Reign of the Fallen series

3 stars

Odessa is a master necromancer for the kingdom of Karthia. She is tasked alongside her partner and lover, Evander, with bringing back King Wylding- the dead king who has rule Karthia continuously. He is killed and brought by to life countless times to continue his reign. His soul is in the Deadlands and it must be brought back, but there is a price to be a soul outside of the Deadlands. The souls risk becoming Shades- monstrous creatures who feed off life. Shade attacks are rising at an alarming rate and someone is conspiring to raise Shades intentionally. Will Odessa’s skill as a necromancer be enough to save Karthia? Meh. I thought I was going to love this one. It has a promising premise and it sounds super awesome, but in all honesty, Reign of the Fallen is boring. It is lackluster in plot, description, and character development. I could not be bothered to really care what was happening to the characters because I did not care about what would happen. The stakes were high, but the character development was so lacking that the high stakes didn’t make for an unputdownable read. For instance, the world building, especially the descriptions of the Deadlands, were lacking in fullness. It felt as though the reader should already be familiar with this conceptual world and should know exactly what Marsh was describing. This caused Reign of the Fallen to read more like a sequel than the starting book in a series. I will give Marsh one thing: she is not afraid to kill off characters. This is only book one and very integral characters were killed off. It made the plot a little wonky, to be honest, but it also made me respect how ballsy Marsh is as an author. She is not afraid to take risks and chances with her characters. It’s very admirable. The downside is that the characters are so lackluster that I did not care what their fates were. However, Marsh’s strong suit is battle scenes. The battle scenes start out early and are very strong. It made for very thrilling chapters, but it quickly became boring when they weren’t fighting.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

The main female character is Odessa. I honestly don’t have much to say about Odessa. I thought her character development left much to be desired. At times I liked her and at others it felt as if she wasn’t really a character, but a grieving or killing machine. There was no in between. Either Odessa was wracked with grief or she was seeking vengeance and wanted to kill everything in her path. It wasn’t effective.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2.5

Reign of the Fallen has incredibly diverse characters. Odessa is bisexual. Her two male friends are in a very healthy strong relationship. Meredy, an eventual love interest, is lesbian. There is a lot of representation in this fantasy novel, which is great because fantasy is not as diverse as one would think, but it is getting there.

SPOILERS ABOUND So, Odessa’s first relationship is with Evander. They have been together for a very long time and have a strong passionate relationship. Evander is killed in the Deadlands by a Shade relatively early on and it causes Odessa to experience a lot of grief and pain. This leads to making a lot of misguided and uncomfortable romantic decisions that made me feel a little icky. First problem: Odessa starts a friends with benefits relationship with Jax, Evander’s best friend, to help fill the void of Evander’s death. It doesn’t take long for this to occur and it made me really uncomfortable because it is one of my least favorite tropes when characters hook up to cope with grief or heartache. It is not effective and it actually causes more damage than healing. So, that left a sour taste in my mouth. Then, Odessa falls into instalove with Evander’s sister, Meredy. Talk about awkward. My biggest problem with this is best described by this quote,
“Not after we’ve finally started talking about Evander, sharing memories to keep him with us. Not after… well, everything she’s become to me.”
It’s just too much. If Meredy was anyone else in the court it wouldn’t be awkward, but it’s her dead lover’s sister. It’s just so uncomfortable and every time I would get over it and start to think their relationship was cute, she would mention Meredy and Evander looking similar and I felt creeped out again. It made me wonder if Odessa actually has feelings for Meredy or if she is trying to recapture Evander by being in a relationship with someone so similar to him.

So, yeah. That was the biggest problem I had with this novel. The love interests were just… odd. However, Valoria was a really cool character and I really enjoyed her friendship with Odessa. I just wanted to see more of their friendship outside of the little bit we did.

Character Scale: 2.5

I do think a lot of people will love and adore the Reign of the Fallen. I just wasn’t one of them. The good news is that it ends like a standalone novel and I don’t feel like have to pick up the sequel, which is nice because I don’t think I will. I have a feeling this will be a favorite for a lot of fantasy fans and I look forward to seeing everyone’s excitement over this novel once it’s released.

Plotastic Scale: 3.25

Cover Thoughts: I LOVE this cover. It’s fabulous.

Thank you, Razorbill/ Penguin for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Brittany (Brittany's Book Rambles).
225 reviews452 followers
January 26, 2018
This book is AMAZING, it deserves ALL THE STARS! Sarah's writing is wonderful and it really immerses you into the story. There is magic, love, adventure. Reign of the Fallen is truly fantastic. Everyone needs this lovely on their TBRs.

*UPDATED* 1/26/2018

Read my full review of Reign of the Fallen

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I LOVE Sarah Glenn Marsh's Reign of the Fallen. I was a beta reader for the first draft, I blurbed it, and I am the leader of Sarah's street team—The Sparrow's Watch. So, with all of that, I hope you weren't expecting less than 5 stars for this beauty.

Me to this book:

From the moment I started reading this book, I was in love. Even based on its first draft alone, I would still have rated it a solid 5 stars on Goodreads. The story flowed into my heart within seconds, and it's a love affair that will continue because it is definitely one of my all-time favorite novels. I am so excited and thrilled that this masterpiece is finally out in the world, and I can't wait to see what all of you think of it!

And be ready, because Sarah Glenn Marsh knows exactly how to make you feel all the things, right before cruelly crushing you into a million pieces... even though you're still loving it so much that you want to thank her for it.

The MC is bisexual (which you don't see often enough!), and the book itself own voices. Odessa is the perfect mix of complicated and imperfect as a character. There were times that I wanted to shake her, but then I also wanted to hug her and get a drink together as we cry our eyes out over the agony that is her life in this book.


When trying to describe the brilliance of this Reign of the Fallen, I am just an emotional mess but I will try my best to break it down for you.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,146 reviews248 followers
April 27, 2018
3.5 Stars
"Life will be hard and painful as long as I cling to it, but there's beauty in it, too."
I think I might have hyped this up too much. It was likely impossible for it to live up the the standard I set in my head after waiting for this book for months. That being said, I did still enjoy Reign of the Fallen. We follow master necromancer Odessa as she attempts to maintain the Deadlands and prevent the returned Dead from becoming monstrous Shades. As more Shades are being mysteriously created, Odessa must determine if her necromancer magic is a weapon the will destroy Karthia.

Things I Liked
I really liked the worldbuilding that was established for Karthia and the different power sets. I love that eye color correlated with powers/abilities, loved learning about necromancers abilities like how they bring people back, I liked learning about the Deadlands.

I also really enjoyed the fear of progress that exists in Karthia. I felt like it totally made sense in light of the Dead ruling and the fear of the unknown. I thought it was really unique and I liked it a lot.

This story is really about grief, loss, and the different ways that we can deal with that pain. I loved that we got to see Odessa turn to substance abuse. I felt like it was not only really realistic, but respectful to her feelings while never being excused. I felt Odessa’s pain and mourning. It was visceral and easy to connect with.

Even though this is book one is a series it felt like it could stand on its own as well which I really appreciate. Reign of the Fallen is a full story on its own. There’s definitely more that can be explored and there’s more story to tell, but there was resolutions to problems. Nothing felt drawn out, if anything I found a few things to be a little rushed.

Things I Didn’t Like
I didn’t really connect to any of the characters besides Odessa, so it made it really hard to get invested in the story for me. Jax was probably my second favorite, but I don’t feel like I know him at all. Master Cymbre, Simeon, Valoria, Kasmira, and Meredy all felt like there were distant from me. I know basically nothing about them, so I didn’t really care for them.

Like I said above, I found a few of the plot points to be rushed - especially given this isn’t a standalone. Relationships with new characters happen pretty instantaneously with little development on page, even established relationships aren’t show - we’re just told they exist and are supposed to take it as is. I really only liked one relationship in the story, but other than that I just didn’t really buy it - romantic or otherwise.

I felt like the story lacked tension for me. I honestly never really feared for certain character’s fates or the outcome of fights. I fell like the ending was obvious and expected. This could have been a combo issue of not really being invested in the characters as well. I'm sure if I cared more about the characters, this wouldn't have bothered me.

Even with my complaints, I’m happy I read Reign of the Fallen and I’m looking forward to the sequel. I love that we get a story with so many characters on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and its normalized in the world, I loved the power-sets and the world of Karthia. I can’t wait to see how the story is expanded and the new threats Odessa and the others face in book 2!
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 5 books13.5k followers
January 26, 2019
“Those finished with life crave it less over time.”

Ever wanted to read about a bisexual heroine in a super queer fantasy world? Well, here you go.

Odessa is a rare Master Necromancer in a world filled with living Dead. Once Odessa has brought them back from the spirit world, they may live, shrouded and masked, every piece of their skin safely hidden away. No living human is allowed to see even an inch of them, or the Dead will turn into vile and bloodthirsty monsters. For the past 200 years, the same king has ruled over Karthia. But when someone starts kidnapping the Dead and killing the few Necromancers in the kingdom, change seems inevitable.

You will love this world if you enjoy good world-building and a diverse and large cast of characters. It's also a world where bi- and homosexuality are just as ordinary as being straight (even though, let's be honest, being straight must be reeaaalllly boring). I really enjoyed the depiction of romantic (and platonic) f/f relationships. Of course, they are never easy, but the relationships in this book are overall healthy and honest ones, which for some weird reason is not a given in YA literature.

To be honest, the plot was somewhat predictable and could have needed a better structure. But the adorable characters and the magic definitely made up for that. It was not a perfect book but one that I grew to like more and more the further I read. I'm currently reading the sequel, Song of the Dead, and this world gets even more magical, queer, and exciting. Also, it has dragons.

Thank you to Penguin Random House International for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
511 reviews298 followers
March 28, 2018
Mini review:


I read the author's debut Fear the Drowning Deep. Having enjoyed that and being interested in necromancy I picked up a copy. Man am I disappointed.

I enjoyed the relationships the characters had with each other. The whole eye color being connected to a magical ability was unique. The plot was decent and it was readable. You could easily finish Reign of the Fallen in a matter of days. Odessa's grief and drug addiction was well done.

I wasn't emotionally connected to the characters. While I understood their struggles, I didn't really care. I spent a majority of my time reading not truly being invested. The whole thing felt bland. I stopped reading as there was no point in continuing. When reading any book I have to be fully invested in the characters and plot.

Recommend as this was definitely a personal preference.
Profile Image for Dennis.
745 reviews1,424 followers
February 4, 2018
Disclaimer: I don't enjoy giving negative reviews at all. It's not my thing and I don't want to bury anyone with a review that may or may not be a popular opinion.

When I first heard about Reign of the Fallen I immediately thought "Oh my gosh! It's The Walking Dead meets Game of Thrones!" and needed to grab a copy immediately. #AmazonPreOrder. Sadly, this book is more Harry Potter meets Charmed. Not bad, but not what I was expecting. I guess I should have taken note that it's a young adult fiction novel and lowered my expectations, but I was hopeful! In this story, we meet Odessa—one of Karthia's notable necromancers. In a world where people can be brought back from The Deadlands. The Deadlands is the afterlife realm where spirits go after their physical being has diminished. Odessa and her comrade/partner/love interest Evander must be careful because sometimes awakening the dead into their world can create zombie-like creatures called Shades. These Shades are spirits returning without their human vessels. As Karthia starts seeing a sharp increase of Shade attacks, Odessa and her team must uncover what is really going on and what is at stake.

I really don't want to get too much into the story because nothing really happens. If I tell you any more of the plot, why read this 350+ page book? For an action-packed adventure story, it really could have been condensed to like 200 pages. The plot was just not very engaging for me to stay focused. We are introduced to way too many secondary characters that we really don't care about. I do believe the concept of this story will be well received and that many may find my review incorrect. I encourage you to see for yourself.
Profile Image for Nikki.
309 reviews235 followers
January 16, 2018
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I knew living with the Dead was impossible. Death is an ending, not a new beginning.

Reign of the Fallen tackles an interesting story on how a kingdom survives on necromancy. As you can see from above, the cover of the book is just an enticing as the premise, so I was really delighted when Penguin Random House sent me an advanced copy!

My experience of reading Reign of the Fallen is equally divided between what I liked and what I disliked. This review will be formatted accordingly so readers will understand what elements I genuinely liked in the story and what could have been better.

What I Liked

1. Originality of the story: necromancy. As far as my reading experience goes, this is the first book that mainly tackles necromancy! Other books briefly touched on it (see: The Rose Society) but never gave a detailed explanation as to how it worked. In Reign of the Fallen, they give you the entire shebang. The process of how it worked was descriptive enough to make sense and compel the reader to keep reading but not too detailed to be baffling. I also like how everyday things were integrated into the process such as honey and coffee beans to provide some sort of normalcy for the reader.

2. The explanation behind the process. While it’s great to be shown how they do things, it’s still better to be given a reason as to why they do it. Odessa’s occupation as a necromancer gave its readers the right avenues to understand why they keep raising the dead, ranging from simple want to urgent need for the survival of the kingdom.

3. Odessa’s love for Evander. I have never seen a purer form of love. At first I was suspicious because I’ve heard rumors that this book will feature an LGBT romance. This comes on later in the book. In the beginning, however, I was swept away by the overwhelming love Odessa and Evander have for each other. I felt it throughout the entire book and I commend Sarah Glenn Marsh for being able to pull it off spectacularly.

4. The way Odessa dealt with addiction and loss. Unlike others, necromancers cannot be resurrected once they die. Incomprehensible grief struck Odessa when she suffered a loss. There was a good portion of this book was solely focused on how she dealt with that hole in her chest. It ranged the entire spectrum from becoming dependent of a calming potion to numbing her feelings through brief trysts. We also see her struggle to overcome that and the writing style gets through the readers.

“You’ll never hear any of this, because you’ve vanished and I have to carry on alone. I wish you could tell m where to go from here. Or how to get my heart to stop repeating your name.”

5. The different coping mechanisms of loss: Odessa vs Meredy. I also admired how Sarah Glenn Marsh showed us different ways people deal with loss. There are those who deal with it with emotions, and those who deal with it by hardening their hearts.

“How do you do it?” I ask as Meredy sponges my forehead with the cloth that Valoria left. “How do you handle thinking about them without falling apart?”
“I don’t,” she says after a while. “I try not to think of them at all.”

“Your mother brought you into this world as a whole person. And last I checked, you still are one. No matter what or who you’ve lost.”

6. The clear divisions in the story. This is the kind of book where you can easily divide it into parts. The transitions are subtle but clear enough for us to tell when the pacing of the story will change! As a reader, I appreciate that because it gives me a clue on what to expect next.

I think that’s most of that I really liked in Reign of the Fallen! Unfortunately, with every hit there is also a miss. So now I’ll be listing what I did not like in the story.

What I Disliked

1. The circle of friends. The “crew” tried too hard to be like Six of Crows and the Inner Circle of ACOMAF and it didn’t work. The attempt was too obvious and some of their interactions felt forced and inorganic.

2. The story focused too much on Odessa. We barely get to know anybody else aside from her sadness. However, this is somewhat justified because we read the entire story from her perspective and it was addressed in the book that she was too selfish to think of others.

“You’re so selfish you don’t notice anyone’s pain but your own.”

3. Predictable trope when it came to the villain. What is it with pretty charming boys that always give me trust issues??? It only proves that men truly ain’t shit at all!

4. The Deadlands. The gates to the Deadlands and the Deadlands themselves were confusing mainly because I didn’t understand but that may be due to my skimming

5. Dead time. Some parts are “skimmable” because it felt like nothing significant was happening. I was able to get key information from two sentences in what was stretched to six pages.

At the end of it all, I had a fun time reading all about Odessa and her powers! I’m very interested as to how the LGBT romance will play off since it left a lot of unanswered questions. I’m also hopeful that the sequel will focus more on other key characters that were overlooked in this first book. I’m giving this one 3.8 stars!

Review originally posted on https://bookallure.com/2018/01/15/rei...
Profile Image for Jaye Berry.
1,344 reviews123 followers
March 7, 2018
Yikes. I'm really sorry but this is going to be a semi rant review. This book just had nothing good going for it.

In Regin of the Fallen Odessa is one of her kingdom's necromancers. Her job is to take spirits back from the Deadlands and bring them back to life, even though they are not as whole as they once were. They have to wear shrouds and cover their entire bodies; all it takes for one of the dead to turn into a monster, a shade, is for the living to look at their skin. Suddenly the dead start disappearing, and more shades are showing up and killing people. As it turns out, someone is controlling them and necromancy might be the reason for the kingdom's likely downfall.

Sounds cool right? That is what I thought but... nope. Everything in this book felt half-assed to me, honestly. The kingdom? What kingdom? I have no idea what anything looks like, I cannot picture anything. Some hills and a castle I guess. Maybe because the background wasn't as detailed or described you'd think the characters would stand out but again... nope. There are a bunch of side characters who some die, some don't but none of them matter. This book tries so hard to have an emotional connection to these people dying and their connection to the MC but it isn't good at all. All tell and no show and no side character was developed at all.

I don't want to spoil the book but:

Odessa suffers a loss in the book pretty early on and for some reason, this book takes a bit of a break while she downs potion drugs to cope with it. While I thought the addition and talking about grief and addiction in a fantasy novel was actually pretty interesting and actually pretty much liked, after a while the book is like: "Alright that's enough of this, let's go back to the actual story." Either go all the way, or don't. Having the entire middle of the book be Odessa struggling with addiction then just curing it and never mentioning it again was insulting and just annoying. Cut out the middle section of the book and that pointless plotline and this story is already better.

The romance: uh no. There was a character that I really liked with Odessa, I thought that person was adorable and that they were perfect for each other. IF that had been the love interest, I would have liked this book at least a little better. Instead it seems like they are introduced and set up for a romance then they get shoved aside for some other one who literally came out of nowhere The major thing that this book was advertised for was for all the lgbt and well. It's there but I didn't think it was all that good either.

As for Odessa, there was a bunch more telling and not showing how great she is at her job. They call her the Sparrow because she's so good at finding people in the Deadlands and bringing them back, or something. We never really get to see her be actually good at it though? She is no different than any of the other necromancers, except for everyone acting like she is.

The magic system: what? So there are different magics for different eye color. It seems like everyone has these powers but the only reason not everyone uses them is because they "don't train for it" which in itself is so lazy to me. I did enjoy the magic of beast mastery but that is probably just my love for my World of Warcraft character.

One last thing I have to get out, the ending and the villain. Not only was it obvious who the person pulling the strings was going to be, I kind of don't see how the reasoning behind their motivation was evil. Sure they wanted to kill a bunch of people but otherwise, didn't they just end up doing the same thing in the end anyway?

This book was just a mess to me and I couldn't enjoy it.
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