This is one of those books that I’m so shocked it took me so long to read because I absolutely loved it. It took me a tiny bit longer than usual to read it, but that was only because I’ve had an off month with my reading and have been slower at finishing books than I usually am.
Content warnings: substance abuse, talk of suicide, violence, death, and some sexual activity, but it’s not explicit
Reign of the Fallen absolutely had me on a roller coaster of emotions, which is fitting considering the main character, Odessa, is also on a roller coaster of emotions throughout the story.
Reign of the Fallen follows Odessa, who is a teenage necromancer. She is known throughout the story as Sparrow because she seamlessly flies between the land of the living and the Deadlands. Her job is to kill and then resurrect the king of Karthia so he will able to rule for longer than what he already has.
In Reign of the Fallen, people are able to train for different classes of mages based on the color of their eyes. In the book, we get to see Odessa and her friends able to do different things based on their eye color. Blue eyes, like what Odessa, Evander, and Jax have, mean you’re able to study necromancy and are able to learn how to enter the Deadlands. Green eyes, like what Meredy has, means you’re able to become a beast master. I found this form of a magic system to be unique and well thought out. I loved that it was an organic way for a magic system to take form and that it was clear that a certain eye color meant you could do a certain thing.
The characters in this story were so amazing. Not only are they just amazing, but there is also racial diversity and sexual orientation diversity. Several of the characters are of different races. The main character, Odessa, is bisexual, while many of the other characters are gay as well. I adored this cast of characters so much and would read a story about any of them in a heartbeat.
Of course, what is a story without conflict. Even though there has been peace between the living and the dead for many years, it quickly becomes clear that not everyone has the same beliefs.
In this world, though the dead walk among the living, they must hide every inch of their body beneath a shroud. If a living person even catches a glimpse of their skin, they then turn into a shade. Shades are monsters who can’t control their actions or themselves and feast on anything that gets in their way. Once a person has become a shade, they can no longer be raised again.
Twists and turns start as royalty starts to go missing and master necromancers are killed. Odessa is brought in to solve the mystery because she’s one of the best necromancers around.
I loved how positive this story was in regards to sex in YA. Odessa has more than one partner throughout Reign of the Fallen and never apologizes for it or feels shame for it. This is something that is definitely needed more in the YA world of books.
I also loved that this book dealt with substance abuse. Unfortunately, this is an aspect of life that too many kids are all too well aware of. Even though this is a fantasy novel, it dealt with the aspect of addiction in the perfect way. It showed that not only does addiction affect the person who is addicted, but also the people who care about them as well. This type of discussion is so important and much needed and it was amazing to see it in a YA book.
Reign of the Fallen also deals with grief. I think this might have been the hardest part for me to read even though I haven’t lost many people in my life. Odessa’s pain is so hard to read because it is realistically done. I cried a lot while reading Reign because the loss felt oh so real.
Another aspect of this book is family. Not just family in the sense of blood, but the family you find as you live. The family you choose to enter your life through friendships and relationships.
Finally, I adored the Odessa is a bisexual main character. She’s not coming out. She’s not being ridiculed or anything like that for being bisexual. I love that there’s a book out in the world with an openly bisexual character where it is normalized and accepted.
Overall, this was an amazing book. The magic system is well thought out and the characters in the story are amazing. It has important topics and themes that I’m so glad to see in a YA story. Sarah Glenn Marsh is also one of the sweetest authors I’ve ever interacted with. I can’t wait for the sequel and whatever else Sarah comes up with.
Have you read Reign of the Fallen? If so, what were your thoughts on it?