Lately I’ve been reading a lot more fantasy again. Yet instead of going back to the old recipe of YA fantasy, I wanted to try something new. When I saw the cover of Reign of the Fallen, I was instantly intrigued. Seriously, it is probably one of the best covers around. But of course, a cover alone can’t sell a story. So when I looked it up and noticed that the story involved magic, necromancers and mystery, I was intrigued. It sounded like a thrilling ride. Before I knew it, the book was in my basket, waiting for its pages to be turned. But is it worth the read?
GoodReads says the following about this book:
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?
Grief and Addiction
Before you even think about reading Reign of the Fallen, know that it is not the kind of book you think it is. If you only go by the summary, you will come out of the experience feeling disappointed. That would be a shame, as this book has plenty to offer. Initially I went into it believing it to be action all the way, so I had to readjust my expectations.
A large part of this book deals with the aftermath of a loved one’s death. It does an excellent job at describing the grief and pain you feel when you have to let somebody you love go. Our main character Odessa becomes addicted to calming potions, but every character has a way of dealing with their grief. While overall the book is fast-paced, I feel that the more intense scenes of Odessa dealing with her grief slow the story down. After a while, it becomes a bit repetitive and I felt like nothing truly happened.
In the second half of the book, the plot picks up again and I found myself more invested in the story. This could possibly also be because the dramatic death happens early on in the novel. I did not have time to get emotionally invested in the characters yet. I didn’t feel the pain to the same extent Odessa does.
Predictable but entertaining
Marsh is good at writing action scenes. I was intrigued by the mystery as well. I kept wondering who could have created all the shades. However, quite early on, Marsh drops all the clues which made it easy to see who the bad guy was. It’s a shame because the whole shock factor was gone. I understand that Reign of the Fallen is a first book in a series but I would have liked it if the mystery would have stayed more mysterious for a longer while.
As mentioned, initially it took me some time to warm up to these characters. However, Reign of the Fallen certainly hosts a bunch of kick-ass characters that will definitely warm your heart. Odessa is a flawed heroine, but one who is still willing to fight after overcoming all of her obstacles. Meredy is the initial cold-hearted bitch who turns out to have a heart of gold. Jax and Simeon are insanely entertaining. Valoria is adorable in all of her geeky glory. Basically, the characters are fantastic. Besides, Odessa is bisexual and Simeon gay and the way this is handled is very natural. There is no emphasis on their sexuality, but their relationships progress like any other relationship would in a straight YA novel. It is also not the centre of it all, which makes it excellent representation.
+ LGBTQ Representation
+ Believable portrayal of grief
– The plot twist is a bit predictable
– First half of the story is a bit slow.