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Kingdom of Souls

(Kingdom of Souls #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,426 ratings  ·  562 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
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…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)
Avana Linden Yes, but is one of many subplots of the story. In other words, it's not the main focus.

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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,426 ratings  ·  562 reviews

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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 ...more
Umairah | Sereadipity
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5

Kingdom of Souls was a tale of epic proportions set in a West African fantasy world full of magic and mystery. It was a captivating but also a very dark and heavy read that made me feel all of the emotions possible and it was so intense that at one point I just had to put the book down and process my turbulent feelings.

Arrah was born from two powerful witchdoctors but had no magic to call her own no matter how hard she tried or how much she wanted it. But when
Mary S. R.
4.5 STARS! This is fogging SPECTACULAR

Okay, I gotta be honest, the first half was boring me some, and I tried very hard to NOT give up, but the second half??? Holy shet was that unbelievable! Unique, grand, dark, terrifying, intriguing, and utterly mind-blowing are other adjectives I'd use to describe the mesmerising second half of this masterpiece.

I confess, I tried very hard to give Kingdom of Souls 4.25 stars and round it down, but I just couldn't. I bleeding couldn't. Because if before
Amy Imogene Reads
Gods, demons, fluid time constructs, ruthless families, and more collide in this epic fantasy opener that deserves a seat at the table with the titans of YA fantasy.

World building:
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 amazing—
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! It
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
Lucy Langford
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it

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
Elise (TheBookishActress)
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.
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)
Aaryn Flott
This book is definitely worth the freaking hype!!! 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
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
Aly (In Wonderland)
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, fantasy
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
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
Zoe Stewart (yerabooknerdzoe)
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
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.
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
I just wanna stare at this cover forever. Look how powerful she looks. DAMN. ...more
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.
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
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
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
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020

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
Yesenia Juarez
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What did I get myself into!!! Only complaint is that I got myself into a series that isn’t compete. I don’t like starting a series that isn’t complete
*insert sad face here
The Artisan Geek
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcase
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 the year!!

You can find me on
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Nia •ShadesOfPaper•
You can find this review on my blog Shades of Paper.

“I once laughed at stories about demons, and now I know that one may walk in my shadows. She does not mean well.”

I was so excited to read this book because I’ve been hearing amazing things about it and a lot of people have been talking about Kingdom of Souls lately so I was super intrigued, not only by the cover but by the premise. And overall I have to say that there were some elements that I really enjoyed about it but there was some
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
I was sent an arc of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review

My feelings about this book are VERY complicated and jumbled in my brain but the gist of it while i work on getting my full review up is: I LOVED the plot and exploration of the cycle of abuse and trauma, as well as the gods are portrayed and the slew of other themes that were explored. But although I liked the writing overall, I had a few issues with it here and there and the pacing was very off and unbalanced.

Apr 27, 2019 marked it as to-read
so the cover gods are really trying their hardest to kill me this year, aren't they?
K.S. Marsden
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The tribes are blessed with magic, some stronger than others. Arrah has to deal with being the dud of the family. She yearns to use magic like everybody else, but she should be careful what she wishes for.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Set in a West-African inspired world, where magic is a necessary part of life, Arrah is the daughter of two of the most powerful people in the tribes, and her grandmother is edam - another powerful witch-doctor and tribal
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.


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
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,
Gabriela Pop
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
An outstanding debut and one of the most unique YA fantasies I've read in a long time, truly a breath of fresh air. There are a few things familiar to fantasy lovers that may make the book appeal to them - the complex and intriguing magic system, the rich worldbuilding and lore, the way the characters operate within the gray area of morality, the cameos of immortal beings inserting themselves in the stories of mortals and the way their actions and intentions are -rightfully- questioned.
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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 ...more

Other books in the series

Kingdom of Souls (2 books)
  • Untitled (Kingdom of Souls #2)
“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.” 0 likes
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