Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron (Kingdom of Souls Trilogy: Book 1)

Kingdom of Souls is a book filled with a rich mythology, where long ago the Orishas battled the Demon King and after destroying his demons trapped him in an everlasting prison. The Orishas lost a number of their brothers and sisters in this battle and stepped back from the humans they protected. In the tribal lands, Heka is above the Orishas as he gives humans magic. In the Kingdom, the Orisha are the ones who are worshipped.

The lead character, Arrah doesn’t have magic, so she is seen as an anomaly as she comes from two prominent magical lines from two different tribes. Arrah feels like an outsider everywhere she goes, in the tribal lands, because she hasn’t been granted magic yet, and in Tamar, she is treated differently because her mother is the top seer in the Kingdom. No one can understand why Arrah hasn’t received magic of her own, and she is taunted by it, as she can see the magic around her.

Arrah’s mother Arti belittles her, yet her father Oshe is more understanding. Due to her lack of magic Arrah spends a lot of time wondering if she is cursed. Arti has plans of her own that Arrah is just a pawn in. Arti is ultimately a tragic figure, but overall she is malicious and callous. As Arti turns on Arrah and Oshe to make sure her plans do not go astray, she doesn’t care who gets hurt to bring her plan to fruition.

Every so often we get some sub-chapters that are told from The Twin King Orishas. Re’Mec and Koré. Which gives us a little insight into the grudge they bear the Demon King still. There is also a back story of the mystery of the Unnamed Orisha, which was interesting as it is played with throughout the book.

With Arti’s plan becoming a reality, Arrah decides that the only way to survive is to gain the magic she has been denied. Arrah knows to take magic this way is a fate worse than death, but Arrah knows that this is the only way to gain a modicum of freedom from Arti’s will. I like that Arrah is strong-willed and wants to believe that there is good in everyone. Although this can make her naive in certain situations. I liked that the main characters didn’t find out the truth about themselves until it was much too late to do anything about it. 

This is one of those books where it takes the characters a long time to work out who they can and cannot trust, where putting your trust in the wrong person can lead them on a dangerous path. Arrah can be annoying in parts, but you end up really caring for her and hoping that she will succeed in destroying her mother’s plans and that she can survive the truth that has haunted her life.

8/10 A book filled with a rich mythology

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