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Kingdom of Souls

(Kingdom of Souls #1)

by
3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,842 ratings  ·  910 reviews
Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdo
...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published September 19th 2019 by HarperVoyager (first published September 3rd 2019)
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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 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,842 ratings  ·  910 reviews


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Mary S. R.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: seekers of unique dark YA fantasy
(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
...more
Riley
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Rena Barron
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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
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Amy Imogene Reads
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 was am
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C.G. Drews
This was a deeply complex, rich and dark fantasy that had me intrigued from the very first page. 👀 I do like my epic fantasy daaaark and this definitely delves into that side of magic, with witchdoctors gone rogue and demons breaking free and strings of murders. It's not without hope, though! As Arrah, even though she's magicless, will stop at nothing to defeat this darkness. We stan a Gryffindor heroine. Let's go 😭🙌🏻

// West-African inspired mythology
I am so so here for more #ownvoices fantasy!
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Elle (ellexamines)
Apr 14, 2018 marked it as zzzzz-coverporn-etc  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z-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.
Lucy Langford
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5****

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
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jessy
Mar 23, 2019 is currently reading it
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)
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Aaryn Flott
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
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Alexandra Elend Wolf
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alexandra Elend Wolf by: Mary S. R.
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
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The Artisan Geek
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------


22/2/20
Review is up on my channel! :D


22/7/19
Loved it! Review to come! :)

30/4/19
I AM HOLDING IT. I AM HOLDING IT. I AM HOLDING IT.
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

29/3/19
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
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Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
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
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Chad
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Meaghan
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Aly (In Wonderland)
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, historical
Trigger Warning: Kingdom of Souls contains scenes of violence, sacrifice, blood magic and parental abuse. Proceed with caution.

"For she will rise from the ashes alit in flames.
For no water will ever quell her pain.
For no redemption will befall her.
For we will never speak her name.
-- Song of the Unnamed"


Nothing I will ever write will give you an idea of how truly wonderfully written and amazing Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron is. I was lucky enough to be part of the “traveling book i
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Diana
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vid review here https://youtu.be/s0HvD_mcivc on Nov, 22, 2020


EDIT AFTER A 2nd READ

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.

_
...more
Bookishrealm
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
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
Savannah Holland
Jul 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
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.

Warning: SPOILERS

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
...more
Michelle
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
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destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
I just wanna stare at this cover forever. Look how powerful she looks. DAMN. ♥
☼ ☄︎ Anneli✩ ☽
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, annotated
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
...more
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
...more
Cesar
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
...more
Cortney
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.25 Stars

“For her story begins at the end
Full of pain and sweet revenge.
For she shall not rest in this life,
For she must suffer for her sins.”

Arrah doesn’t have magic like her parents and so you know she may be tempted to do something she shouldn’t just to get a little taste of what it’s like to have that kind of power. She’s just trying to help out a friend. What could possibly go wrong?

Political intrigue. Check. Revenge. Check. Epic battle scenes. Check. Scheming unreliable gods. Check. Unex
...more
Vivianne
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
...more
Celia McMahon
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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,
...more
Sana
Mar 10, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts
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
...more
Kate
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
3.75/5stars

The world building in this book was awesome and the plot was quite interesting and much darker than expected. The time jumps felt off to me though as I have no clue how much time passed in this book as well as the ending was kindaaaaa anticlimactic. Honestly I’m super satisfied with this book though and since reading series always ruins books for me, I’ll probably just leave this as a stand-alone in my mind
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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)
  • Untitled (Kingdom of Souls, #3)

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“I bite the inside of my cheek, letting my doubts curl up next to my hope. One gives me the strength to keep pushing, and the other reminds me never give up.” 1 likes
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