A great evil looms in the kingdom as children begin to disappear, snatched by a magic carrier who hides in the darkness. Born to a family of powerful witchdoctors, but without her own magic, Arrah chooses to sacrifice years of her life in exchange for magic that will help her find the children. What she finds shocks her and sends her on a terrifying and dangerous journey as she finds a way to stop the evil.
This was an interesting, but slightly unsteady start to a series. The world building in this West-Africa inspired tale is very strong; we’re immediately introduced to the five tribes with a detailed description of the magic they wield. The tribal lands are beautifully realized, as is the city of Tamar which is ruled by the Almighty One, a Vizier, and a team of seers. As Arrah and her family travel to different lands, the world building expands and is never lacking. I’m completely enchanted by this world, and feel the time spent building it sets us up for compelling stories in the future.
I really liked Arrah as a character, she’s brave and kind, lacking confidence but fiercely loyal. I think most people can relate to her! She has a wonderfully loving relationship with her father, and I always enjoyed their interactions together. Otherwise, I found it hard to find a character to connect with. Characters move in and out of the story, and Arrah’s best friends, whom I thought would be crucial to the story, were not seen again for over a hundred pages. I got the feeling that the inclusion of so many characters was intended for the author to build upon in future books, but most characters remain largely undeveloped in this book.
This is an intricately plotted story, which can feel a bit convoluted at times. What you think is going to be the main conflict of the story is resolved about a third of the way in, and we end up on an entirely different journey. As a result, I’d describe this book as a slow burn, and felt it could be significantly shortened without sacrificing storyline. Still, the characters, plot, and setting have strong appeal. Despite the flaws in this book, I really look forward to continuing on in the story and seeing where it leads.
Pick up this fantasy if you love strong world building, relatable characters, and the “dark lord rising” theme!
Have you read Kingdom of Souls? Let me know what you thought in the comments!