Book Review | Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
When I first started seeing this spoken about on Twitter, I knew I had to read it! It’s an #OwnVoices story about a bisexual necromancer, and I was definitely interested in reading about a world with necromancers in!
Title: Reign of the Fallen
Series: Reign of the Fallen #1
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Release Date: 23rd January 2018
‘Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?‘
I loved this book from the very beginning! I’m so glad I saw people talking about it on Twitter, even the idea of necromancers in a fantasy story was so good to read about alone. But this book is way more than just necromancers and monsters – the characters in the world of Karthia have different magical abilities based on the colour of their eyes (personally, I’d be a healer with my hazel eyes, and I’d love that). Odessa is a necromancer and one so good at her role that she’s earned the name ‘Sparrow’. Her love interest at the beginning is Evander, and it felt very real to understand the couple and what they meant to each other. I also loved when Odessa said the following about him:
“If a person can be home, then he’s mine.”
Meredy, one of Evander’s sister, is a character introduced a little way in and I absolutely loved her. She seems wiser than her age in comparison to many of the other characters and her bond with her grizzly bear, Lysander, is so captivating – Lysander quickly becomes one of the most beloved characters of the story. Favourite Meredy quote? Has got to be when she says the following in relation to Lysander:
“…It’s a good reminder that wild things can never truly be tamed. Only respected”
Jax was interesting, although he was one of the only characters I struggled when it came to understanding. His necromancer partner, Simeon, is admirable with the jokes he makes even though things aren’t going well, and his relationship with Danial is likewise one of the sweetest to read about. Princess Valoria was such a little ray of sunshine too, I loved her quiet enthusiasm and creativity bound with her determination not to give up. Her brother, on the other hand, I quickly took a disliking to. He seemed very insincere and I guess just a little wrong. Kasmira was definitely one of the shining characters for me also, and I hope that in any further books we get to see a lot more of her! She’s such a cool pirate weather mage and you can tell she’s a kind hearted person right from her first introduction.
But this book isn’t all love, magic and happiness. From the first chapter there’s death and the more you read the more each death gets to you. I’m definitely more of a crier than the average person but this book did have me in tears a couple of times – so if you struggle with death then this would be a little difficult to get through. In terms of other content/trigger warnings there is a lot of fighting, death and also substance abuse. The substance abuse is through the grieving of the main character and although it does take up a lot of the book personally I loved this – it made a character in a fantasy world seem more real for me to see her with a weakness. You also get to understand what’s tormenting her so much through the hallucinations she has and she seems more real herself.
When it comes to world building, as mentioned it isn’t only necromancers and Shades (monsters) in this world that Marsh has created. There are beast tamers (e.g. Meredy), healers (e.g. Danial) and weather mages (e.g. Kasmira), whose magic is all linked to eye colour. I love the idea of linking a magical trait to something which can’t be changed either, it fitted in well with a lot of themes throughout the book itself.
The romances got more complicated throughout the book, but I was definitely rooting for a fair few relationships in the end to be safe and secure. There’s a bit of a confusing love triangle near the beginning and although it did fit in with reacting to grief I was quite relieved when it was over. I did think the story was somewhat predictable, but I was still doubting whether or not I could be right which is a good thing – the book still kept me guessing if there was something more. I loved the twists though, even the ones I expected were written in a way that was dramatic.
So, to conclude – I’m so glad I picked this book up! I really did love how it was a fantasy story with some real gritty elements to it. It wouldn’t be for someone wanting a cute little fantasy story but if you’re wanting a story with elements which haven’t really been touched on all that much before then this is a great read, I’m definitely looking forward to more work by Sarah having read this!
Update 12/05/2018: The second book, Song of the Dead, will be released 29th January 2019! I’ve already preordered my copy, so excited to see where the story will go!
In the UK? Order this book from Book Depository for free delivery!
Also available through Amazon.
About the Author
Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since.
When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys watercolor painting, ghost hunting, and pursuits of the nerd variety, from video games to tabletop adventures. She’s never met an animal or a doughnut she didn’t like.
Sarah lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and their tiny zoo of four rescued greyhounds, three birds, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deep, the Reign of the Fallen duology, and several picture books.
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