Book Title: Reign Of The Fallen
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: ROTF #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fiction
Pub Date: 01/23/18
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’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit that I agreed to review this book, at least initially, based on a ferocious case of cover love with a side dish of FOMO. I know that the fear of missing out isn’t a valid reason to pick up a book, but I’ll bet it happens more times than we’d like to admit in our journey as readers. COME ON– look at the cover, in all it’s pink, shimmery glory! ❤ I’ve also been actively searching out writers in the NoVa area to support, and it just so happens Sarah Glenn Marsh is practically my neighbor! Finally, there has been so much hype surrounding this book pre-publication that I had to find out if it was really all it’s been cracked up to be. Honest truth? I found this to be a solid start to a new series that I’m committed to continuing on.
Obviously zombies have been popular subject matter well before The Walking Dead was created (although I’m sure the series helped spread the buzz to mainstream level), but if you’re expecting TWD level chaos, you won’t find that here. Instead, picture a more elegant, court intrigue form of zombies and you’ll have the right idea. All the rules have changed here, giving the story a more complex and unique flow than you’re typical chasers of brain matter. In fact, these zombies’ mental facilities are completely intact, so long as they keep their decaying physical form shrouded completely from the living’s naked eye. No immodest clothing for these suckers; show a little leg and you’ve got a shade on your hand. Ok, so I misled you a bit; shades are actually the zombies here. These nasty creatures feast on the living and undead alike and they are a huge problem for the necromancers. Someone is purposefully turning the undead into monsters, but who? And why? YOU MUST READ TO FIND OUT!
Going into this book, I tried to stay away from too many reviews or specifics, but it seemed that most readers who didn’t enjoy this story came from a place of expecting something other than what Reign Of The Fallen is. You’d think that there would be loads of action-packed fight scenes and nail biting suspense as to what is the driving factor behind the deliberate changing of shades, but you’d be wrong. This one is a slow burn people, and as others before me have stated, this is at heart a character study on grief and loss. Maybe I was able to enjoy this more than others due to my being aware of this going in, but I found the writing just exquisite. Our main character suffers a traumatic loss in the first third of the book, and as we follow her journey of working through (and dare I say past) this grief, we follow a format of writing that is both delicate and raw, almost like we are at times walking on egg shells and then jumping into an angry, boiling pot of water. I must have picked this up at just the right time, because the broken grief that Odessa felt soared clearly off the pages and into my soul.
While there were a few other side notes I felt unnecessary and I did figure out the “who” and “why” early on, as a whole I really enjoyed this. Reign Of The Fallen contained fantastic NATURAL lgbt representation. When I was discussing what I was reading and who the characters were with Mr. Humphrey in the car, he pointed out that more major characters than not were on that spectrum, something I hadn’t even picked up on as I read. Usually, I feel like books pick out the one gay character and paint them so flamboyantly (Look! I’m gay! I included a gay person in my story! I’m diverse!), but here it was just natural and not centered around “coming out”. I’m still digesting the ending, as almost this entire book read as a standalone and the final chapter connected to where I assume the next installment will continue, but it appears to be new subject matter with continuing characters. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it almost a week ago, so I feel that’s a sign that this is a fantasy that will stay on my book shelf and a series I’d like to continue on with. Recommended to those looking to spice up the usual trope-filled, YA fantasy with something heavy but with heart.
*Many thanks to Page Habit for providing my copy, as well as the other items in the January YA Box, to review. I was able to read Reign Of The Fallen with all of the author’s private notes posted throughout, and I highly recommend reading it this way! If you’d like to learn more about Page Habit and the boxes they provide, please visit their site HERE.