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Kingdom of Souls

(Kingdom of Souls #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  4,888 ratings  ·  1,281 reviews

Explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend, where one girl must sacrifice her life, year by year, to gain the power necessary to fight the mother she has never been good enough for.

Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Tomi Adeyemi and Black Panther


Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by HarperTeen
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Rena Barron Hi Jalynn!

Thank you for reading! KINGDOM OF SOULS is the first book of a planned three-book series. The next book will dive even deeper into the worl…more
Hi Jalynn!

Thank you for reading! KINGDOM OF SOULS is the first book of a planned three-book series. The next book will dive even deeper into the world, the characters, and the magic system. In a sense, book one is only the tip of the iceberg of what I've planned for the series. :-)(less)
Books Are Life
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,888 ratings  ·  1,281 reviews

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Maryam Rz.
(4.5 ★’s) It’s always crucial to support Black authors, now more than ever; so I’d like to bring this grand, dark, haunting, fascinating, and mind-boggling African fantasy to your attention.

To everyone who dares to dream,
dares to live their truths,
dares to stand against atrocities,
dares to say
I am enough,
this book is for you...

If I had to use one word to describe Kingdom of Souls, other than the adjectives already listed above, it would be crazy. Thoroughly and gloriously crazy. Oh the twists
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am so impressed by this book. It was a lot darker than I anticipated and the world was so rich with mythology and magic. I loved that the main character was one of the only people in this world without magic. She comes from a very powerful family, both her parents have very strong magical lineages. Instead of being the special ~one~ she was completely unspecial and had everything working against her but despite that she had ambition and hope to become something greater. This also heavily featu ...more
Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)
Yes, this is where I kick myself for not reading this book sooner. I was anticipating this book for so so long, but wow was it worth the wait (even the added months I delayed, for some unbeknownst reason).

This book is unlike anything I've read before. Everything about this world is so rich, the plot complicated but impossible not to fall into, the magic system one with so many layers that it blew my mind a little. This book has a pervading sense of danger seeping gradually into its pages the mo
Rena Barron
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'm bias, of course! This story is deeply personal to me and explores themes that have shaped my life. I hope readers enjoy it too!

Now that Kingdom of Souls is officially out in the world, I want to include content warnings for those interested in reading the book. The story includes blood magic, an intentional infliction of self-injury in a ritual, challenging familial relationship, death of a child, death in battle scenes, mention of animal sacrifice (not on page), animal possession, mind man
Amy Imogene Reads
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 stars

Gods, demons, fluid time constructs, ruthless families, and more collide in this epic fantasy opener that sits at the table with the titans of YA fantasy.

Writing: ★★★★★
World building: ★★★★★
Surprises: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2

Arrah is the daughter of two powerful magic users. Her father's ties to the rural tribes keep her with one foot in the old world, while her mother's political fist in the urban Kingdom keeps her with one foot in the new. This clash of cultures, magic, and sense of morality
Elle (ellexamines)
Apr 14, 2018 marked it as zzzzz-coverporn-etc
Shelves: x-coverporn
So this book apparently has not been announced yet, but it's being pitched as Wonder Woman in a West-African inspired world. also, it's about a girl with no power trying to defeat her sister with power. sign me up. ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Magic has a price- if you’re willing to pay.

This book had great characters, great plot and explored African mythology. This book focuses on a girl called Arrah, the non-magic daughter of powerful witch doctors... much to Arrah’s disappointment. All Arrah wants is magic so that her mother will finally be proud of her for something, rather than just a disappointment.

When children begin to go missing from the poorer areas of the land, Arrah seeks to get magic in order to stop the disappeara
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

My friends and I have been trading bags of books back and forth and this was one of the books I got in my bag. I was actually excited to read this one because of all the reviews complaining that it was too dark. As someone whose soul screams for all things twisted and disturbing in fiction, I was like "YAAAASS GIMME." And the book did deliver on that note, so if you are also one of those people who wishes that YA was a bit more intense,
Mar 23, 2019 marked it as on-hold  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I don't really like this cover (the US one) but whatever. Still gonna read this. The UK cover though isn't that bad so that's cool.

(The ARC is so much more beautiful)
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021, 2019
reread in March 2021 in participation for reading the sequel and I honestly enjoyed this more the second time! absolutely LOVED!
Aaryn Flott
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year! I mean look at that cover! It’s delicious 🤤

Kingdom of Souls is the story of 16-year old Arrah. Despite stemming from a highly esteemed witch doctor of a father, and extremely powerful high priest of a mother, Arrah herself, possesses no inherited magical traits. Because of this, she is treated as a pariah in the magical tribal lands, and devoid of love from her own incredibly influential mother. Though she has the love of her father and her
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, edelweiss
This was billed as a YA African inspired tale but I didn't pickup on either very much. Barron has established a rich, complex fantasy world that other than having witch doctors didn't scream Africa to me. That is by no means a bad thing. I've just read enough fantasy that elements like tribes and pantheons blended in to general fantasy world building more than anything else. This was very complex and dark for a YA book. Other than the main characters being 17 to 18, I wouldn't consider this a YA ...more
The Artisan Geek
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------

Review is up on my channel! :D

Loved it! Review to come! :)

Oh my gosh, a thousand times thank you and more to the amazing Rena for sending this book over!! I feel the mother continent calling for me you guys!!! AAAAAH :D

I have been hyped up about this books for days! This story line sounds so good oof! This is definitely in my top 5 most anticipated books for the rest of t
Alexandra Elend Wolf
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2020
“If he’s to be believed, there are secrets buried inside me, ones that even I cannot fathom, ones that will unravel me.”

What a deeply magical and incredibly twisted book. As Rena Barron's debut novel it was an incredibly satisfactory work and much more than anything I was ever expecting.

I've been meaning to read something like this for a long time. Something that brings to life African culture and the complexity and beauty of it. So, having found this book felt like winning the lo
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Arrah has been desperate for a whisper of magic all her life, as she was born to two of the most powerful witchdoctors of their generation. When her loved ones and city are put in danger, and magic still refuses to answer her call, Arrah must seek out other ways to make the magic do her bidding. But is she willing to pay the price?

I was lucky enough to be chosen for the cross-country travelling ARC initiative, and even though the book wasn’t for me I absolutely support the idea! This one ARC is
Whew, that ENDING.

This book is honestly a big one in terms of size. Here in the UK it's published as adult fantasy, which, considering the pacing and the length, makes sense to me. Because it's almost 500 pages and is not super fast-paced, but then in the US it's published as YA and the heroine is sixteen (if I caught that right?) which goes to show how so much YA fantasy is becoming quite crossover nowadays.

Anyway, weird musing of age categories aside, KINGDOM OF SOULS is a rich, dark, West A
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2 stars

Tedious would be the right word to describe Kingdom of Souls. A tedious, monotonous, repetitive book that utterly bored me. It's a miracle I even finished it on the number of times I was close to DNF'ing it. And believe me, there were a lot.

What made me want to read Kingdom of Souls in the first place was that it's a West-African inspired story with myths, magic, and an interesting premise. However, those three things I listed were the reasons why I didn't like the story.

The story is abo
Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked)
I'm thinking this is more of a 3.5 for me. I listened to the audiobook for quite a bit of it, but I much preferred the physical copy. One of the main reasons this isn't a higher rating for me is the romance. At first, it seemed like it wouldn't be such a huge part of the book. However, unfortunately, it really took over. I understood why when I finished, but still, the endless descriptions of his eyes, his lips, the deep timbre of his voice, etc. could've really been done less frequently. (view ...more
Spoiler free mini review

This book was awful. I am sorry but I really didn’t like it.

I like that it was an POC fantasy, the west African inspiration, and I like the cover. But I think that’s about it that I liked.

The plot was sooooooooo weird. I still haven’t comprehended what was happening actually. I am just… I don’t know. It was strange. Too much was happening and at the same time too less. But mainly I did not enjoy the story! Some things seemed random or added as an afterthought. At sev
This book was crazy. I mean beyond crazy. From the beginning of the book I had no idea what direction the book was taking and I definitely can say that it had twists and turns that no one could possibly see coming. The complexity of the world and the relationships between those with magic, regular humans, the Orishas, and the demon kind is something that takes time to understand. I wouldn’t go into this novel attempting to give definitive titles of “good and evil” to anyone. Most of, if not all, ...more
Savannah Holland
TRIGGER WARNING: Rape and victim blaming
-I would like to begin this by saying I have sent my arc off to a different reviewer and can no longer provide exact quotes, but following along with the updates I recorded as I read I can refer to those for at least one specific page.


The rape in question appears approximately 3/4 (pg 414ish)through the book When Arrah and the Love interest, Rudjek, are on a quest through the forest. Arrah leaves R to bathe and upon coming back finds him i
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ownvoices
Vid review here https://youtu.be/s0HvD_mcivc on Nov, 22, 2020


i ended up enjoying it, the best was the african lore and world building, but towards the end the plot dragged a bit. Also there was a bit too much of repetition about certain topics, i.em i lost count of how many times arrah said she wanted magic to end up having it and saying after wanting it so much now she doesn't want it because it's not worth it.

The characters are a bit raw, but the book does have potential.

destiny ♡ howling libraries
I just wanna stare at this cover forever. Look how powerful she looks. DAMN. ♥
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
16-year-old Arrah is the daughter of powerful Witchdoctors. But she doesn’t have the magic that her parents have, and she so desperately wants it and the approval of her mother. That she does everything she can to get it. She loves her dad dearly and closer that her mother. When children start to missing Arrah finds out that it’s her mother who is responsible, trying to summon a Demonic king. So Arrah performs a ritual to get magic so she can stop her mother. But it takes years off her.
Kingdom o
Schizanthus Nerd
I don’t really know where to begin with this review. There was so much about Kingdom of Souls that I loved. I adored the world building, the rich mythology and learning how magic works in Arrah’s world, yet at the same time I was introduced to so many characters, tribes and gods that I found it difficult to keep track of them.

Enter my cheat guide. I had no idea who or what was going to be important later on and I was so overwhelmed in the beginning (up to about 20%) that I found myself frantical
☆she's book obsessed☆
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-own
Kingdom Of Souls

I’ll just head straight into the magic system because wow! A super complex world with intriguing history.
I absolutely loved the cultural setting and I want to read more books like this. It’s a new world I’ve only skimmed the surface of, which I wish to dive deeper into.
However, some things need to be said.
Personally the characters appeared to be a bit bland, and I didn’t form a connection with any of them. It was a bit slow in the beginning too, but after a hundred page
Mar 10, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts  ·  review of another edition
Aaand the comparisons to Black Panther begins

No, but for real this actually sounds great and I don't know how I didn't know about this before today like

'Set in a West African-inspired fantasy kingdom and having a tone comparable to Wonder Woman, Last Witchdoctor centers on a young woman who fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can't even cast the simplest curse. In fact, she fails so much that her witchdoctor mother conjures a better daughter, one whose power soon threatens to de
Bang Bang Books
Sep 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The problem with this book...no editing
The rating is low because I didn't enjoy anything in this book. Sometimes I like the first 75 pages and then the book falls apart but in this book, I didn't even enjoy 20 pages.

Issues I Had With this Book:
*Good Lord, Where is the Editor? Barron was too ambitious for her first novel and a book one. While the world was somewhat interesting with Gods and witchdoctors, Barron tried to cram too much folklore into this story which made it convoluted and confusing
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Edelweiss for the e-galley and Goodreads for the arc win.

I enjoyed this far more than I expected to. This is not to say because of the content, but more because I am burning myself off of fantasy. BUT this is the exception. This has renewed my hope in the genre.

This book was dark, and I love dark so you can imagine my glee. There are books out there that trick you into thinking it's creepier than it is, and those books always disappoint. I mean, there's magic, witchdoctors, demons,
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
I was sent an arc of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review

CW: Abusive mother, mind control, self-harm, sexual assault imagery, mass murder, child sacrifice, possession, poisoning, death.

At this point, many years into my reviewing career, you must know that if you say “ownvoices African fantasy” I do not need to hear more, I WILL come running. No ifs, ands or buts. So it only makes sense that this review of Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron, which is a West African fantasy, e
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Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school. Rena loves all things science fiction, ghosts, and superheroes. She’s a self-proclaimed space nerd. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French ...more

Other books in the series

Kingdom of Souls (3 books)
  • Reaper of Souls (Kingdom of Souls, #2)
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