Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Publication Date: January 23rd 2018
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Random House)
Series: Reign of the Fallen #1
Blurb: 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 follows Odessa as she and her fellow necromancers grapple with a rise in the creation of monstrous Shades and unrest about the Dead being amongst the Living growing. There’s betrayal, death, romance and humour in the first instalment of the Reign of the Fallen series.
First up an honourable mention to the cover of this book because it is stunning, especially the physical version which shimmers. I have a weakness for bright covers for dark books.
“No room for mistakes,” I murmur. “All we have is now.”
Odessa is a wonderfully flawed and relatable character. An orphan who was then trained as a necromancer, she struggles to know where she would be or who she would be without the title of Master Necromancer. But the challenges she faces over the course of the book make her question whether she wants to be a necromancer for much longer.
After a death hits her hard, Odessa struggles with an addiction to a calming potion that helps her evade the nightmares that plague her. I really liked how realistic this struggle was and how it was handled. That said if it is a trigger for you do be careful, it’s first person so we are there with her and her thought processes.
I really like the cast of supporting characters. We have fellow necromancers Jax, Simeon and Evander, Valoria – inventor and princess of Karthia, Meredy – beast master and Evander’s sister, Danial – a healer and Simeon’s boyfriend and Kasmira, a weather mage and pirate. One of the best parts was the friendship between Odessa, Simeon and Jax. I do hope we get to see more of them in book 2.
Tonight, I’m going to live. One last time.
Something that I really liked and what drew me to the book in the first place was that Odessa, our protagonist, is bi and there is no homophobia. It was just really nice to have characters on the page that were queer without it being a thing or maligned in Karthian society. Odessa isn’t the only one, as mentioned above Simeon and Danial are in a relationship and Meredy is a lesbian. More fanstasy worlds without homophobia please! It’s so refreshing.
One area where Reign of the Fallen fell a little bit for me was Karthia itself. I had a little bit of trouble situating myself within the world. I’m a visual person so particularly in fantasy I like to have a map. When they were talking about the various provinces and towns I got a little lost trying to picture it.
Overall Reign of the Fallen is a wonderful start to the series and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on book two and seeing what our heroes get up to.
“I could never forget anything about you, Master Crowther.” I grin back. “Even if I wanted to.”