Book 1: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron
Arrah is a young girl coming of age in a kingdom full of magic. Everyone, it seems, has their own special power. Everyone, that is, except for Arrah. She is frustrated and embarrassed by her lack of magical ability. After all, she is descended from a chieftain and a High priestess. Magic is in her blood.
The practice of buying magic is frowned upon. Only charlatans and fools do such things. The stakes are too high — untold years off of your life. But when one of her friends falls prey to a child snatcher, Arrah is willing to suffer the cost to save him.
Shedding Our Skins
Was the snake a blessing or a curse? Even though the serpent is first seen in a prophecy of warning I am not sure if Barron is using it as a symbol of evil. Much care is spent to developing the “child snatcher” into a complex villain. Arrah and the reader learn why this character has turned evil. Their backstory allows Arrah to still love them while she hates their deeds. At times she even feels vengeful on their behalf.
Life Lessons Learned:
- Whether you recognize it or not, there is power within you.
- That power lies not in magic but in “your mind, your decisions, even in your mistakes.”
- You are not defined by where you come from, what language you speak or what tribe you belong to. You are worthy because of who you are.
I was absolutely riveted while reading Kingdom of Souls (falling asleep with it the first night and shutting out the world the next day). Barron does an incredible job world-building. There is strong female representation. The love interests are complex. Each one is well-considered and does not overpower the adventure. It was a pleasure to read. I am so thankful that the Kingdom of Souls traveling ARC program put this book in my hands. Since then I have purchased copies for myself and for others as gifts.