- my rating: 4 stars
- published by: Razorbill
- genres: fantasy
- diversity: black & bisexual mc, mixed racial and queer side cast
- content warnings: drug addiction, character death
- links: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
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?
Reign of the Fallen was one of my most highly anticipated 2018 releases and it did not disappoint. It’s exciting and fresh, with an incredible bisexual main character and a loveable, interesting host of characters on the side.
Reign of the Fallen throws us immediately into the action, but it’s not the action filled, zombie killing bloodbath some might have imagined. Instead Reign of the Fallen takes it’s time to explore it’s characters, and how the politics of the world effects the characters who lead the story.
A large portion of the book follows Odessa as she struggles with her role in Karthia, as well as her addiction to a magic potion. I’ll admit this isn’t what I expected, but I also liked it. I think addiction is under explored, especially in fantasy. I also think the plot line did an excellent job at revealing the true nature of Odessa’s characters, and setting up her arc in future books. It worked to shape and show Odessa’s strength, and I think spending some time to explore character in such a way ultimately works in this books favour.
I need to talk about the characters – as for me they were the highlight of this story. Reign of the Fallen features a large cast of characters (which is my ideal) and I absolutely loved the scenes in which we got to see them all together. I really loved how we got to see friendships, romantic relationships and sibling relationships play out between the main cast of characters. There is a side m/m relationship between Simeon (one of the main necromancers) and his boyfriend Danial and it was so sweet and well handled. Odessa also ends up in an f/f relationship, which I think could have had more development, but was ultimately still totally cute and shippable.
The worldbuilding was interesting. We are presented with a world in which change is considered inherently bad. And this was an interesting concept, and one I think that a lot can be done with. Magic plays a role in this world – with people falling into various magical categories, such as Beast Master, Weather Mage and, of course, necromancer. I loved learning about the magic and I hope that the different branches come more into play in book two.
Yet as long as I’m alive, I have to keep going. One step after another through this tunnel until I’m back in Grenwyr City to rejoin the battle, a little more broken than before. .. For my friends and the Dead and the helpless. For me.
All I can do is keep fighting
What this book has, in abundance, is potential. Maybe some a little bit missed (it COULD have been a five star) but also so much series potential which is a massive plus and really important.
The first point – Missed potential: I think this book really could have just sharpened up on some points and it would have been a five star. Foremost of all, there was definitely some lack in terms of worldbuilding, which was disappointing. I also found some twists predictable and finally, I would have liked the romance to be a bit more slow burn.
But on a plus point for potential, this book is an excellent set up for future books in this series. I really think that this first book set up plot elements and characters which is will capitalise off of throughout the series, and that is exciting. I believe this series is gonna be absolutely fuckin’ excellent.
Overall, Reign of the Fallen is such a brilliant series starter and really everything I could have hoped for. Marsh presents us a world in which there is no discrimination and this was endlessly refreshing. Her world is populated with loveable, dynamic characters who bounce off the pages. If you’re looking for a book where you will get totally invested in the characters this is for you.
While I think some people are going to say this isn’t what they expected – in my opinion Reign of the Fallen gives us quality regardless. Maybe there’s not as much Shade gutting as expected, but instead there’s adorable characters, precise explorations of characters psyche, an interesting world and you know what? There was enough zombies to keep me appeased too.
I cannot wait for book two in this series. A highly anticipated 2019 release already.
Until next time!