Reign the Earth
First of all, let me thank Netgalley and Bloomsbury for the chance to read and review this book pre-release. As always, these thoughts are my own. This review is almost spoiler-free; no main plot points are revealed. Proceed at your own risk!
I give this story 4 stars.
Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.
But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.
This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.
“Another fantasy romance in the vein of books by Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh. . . . Shalia matures from a frightened girl in a foreign land to a woman unwilling to allow her destiny or desires to be controlled by the men around her.” – School Library Journal
First of all, let me say that this is not a light-hearted, easy-going fantasy novel. It contains some serious topics, ones that can be very difficult, including physical and emotional abuse. That’s the only reason why I gave this book a cautious 4 stars– it was well done, but it was tough, and you should know that going in.
I do like to start with the pros, so let’s do this thing. I liked that this book, despite its heavy themes, didn’t drag too much. It was snappy, without a lot of embellishment, but still easy to understand and read.
It jumped right into the story without a lot of preamble, which was nice, too. There wasn’t an infodump for a first chapter, which was nice.
I felt like maybe it wasn’t the first book in the series. There were a lot of characters and themes introduced right away, a lot of deep desert customs (which were serious worldbuilding wins) but I got lost almost immediately and wondered if maybe I had missed book one where all this got introduced.
Shalia is a great heroine. She’s kind, sweet, powerful, and outspoken. She’s kindhearted, and basically a desert hufflepuff. I like her, I like that she’s the main character, and I like her goodness. That seems just a little offset by…
… the fact she falls in love with her brother in law. Basically right after she gets married to her husband. Whoops.
The different cultures between the desert nomads and the Trifectate people are fantastic. I like the differences and how they cause confusion. I liked that the desert felt real and wind-swept and massive, but the city and that entire culture felt a little more restricted. I’d like to see some development in that area in book two.
Have you read this story? Do you plan to? Please drop me a note and let me know!