Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Reign of the Fallen

Sarah Glenn Marsh

A lavish fantasy with a surprising and breathtaking LGBT romance at its core, Reign of the Fallen is a gutsy, unpredictable read that will grab readers by the throat and never let go....

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"This edgy fantasy doesn't just blur boundaries of genre, of gender, of past and present, life and death--it explodes them." --Cinda Williams Chima, New York Times bestselling author of The Seven Realms and The Shattered Realms

Without the dead, she'd be no one.

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 soul from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised: the Dead must remain shrouded. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, a grotesque transformation begins, turning the Dead into terrifying, bloodthirsty Shades.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears around the kingdom. Soon, a crushing loss of one of her closest companions leaves Odessa shattered, and reveals a disturbing conspiracy in Karthia: Someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is forced to contemplate a terrifying question: What if her magic is the weapon that brings the kingdom to its knees?

Fighting alongside her fellow mages--and a powerful girl as enthralling as she is infuriating--Odessa must untangle the gruesome plot to destroy Karthia before the Shades take everything she loves.

Perfect for fans of Three Dark Crowns and Red Queen, Reign of the Fallen is a gutsy, unpredictable read with a surprising and breathtaking LGBT romance at its core.


Advance Galley Reviews

This was a great read, with an interesting and original concept. It gathered speed slowly at first, and then wouldn't stop - like a freight train. I enjoyed the build up to the twist at the end, and how the characters showed that people change and grow, even through their grief. It was a real book in that sense, and I enjoyed reading through Odessa's grief, and coming out the other side. I look forward to more books from this author and/or set in this world of shades!

If I had to give this a starred review, it would probably be about 3 stars. It definitely had aspects to enjoy: diverse characters, lgbt characters, interesting sounding plot. Unfortunately, execution just seemed rather lacking.

I received a copy from Penguin First to Read. I finished this in December last year and I’m still struggling to put to words how to review it. I sort of liked it, I loved the diversity of the characters. This was one of my most anticipated January releases, but the actual book itself? Even after well over a month later I’m still undecided. I think my biggest issue with it was the whole the dead rule the world thing. In this novel you have a kingdom where Necromancers are the most powerful mages and when dead nobles die, it’s their job to go and retrieve their soul so the person can keep living and ruling as they have done. Maybe I’m getting too cynical but I’m struggling to grasp this concept. Mainly because from this reader’s point of view – it doesn’t teach anyone how to deal with the concept of death. Particularly the ruling class. Even their king is the living dead. I don’t get it. Best thing I loved about this book was BISEXUAL LEAD FEMALE CHARACTER!!! The novel starts with the lead female Odessa and her best friend/boyfriend Evander about to receive their commendation as official members of the Necromancer’s guild. As full Necromancer mages they can live in the palace and lead comfortable lives. Odessa sort of secretly wants to see the world, and you get the impression she thinks that Evander did too. Odessa has a friend (lady pirate) with a ship who can offer a passage out into the wider world. However, it’s forbidden to leaving their secluded comfortable little kingdom, even though the royals are mostly wise and seemingly well-liked and respected and everyone seems pretty comfortable. At least on the surface. There’s always going to be problems hidden in a kingdom like this which is never obvious to the people whom it should be. Which should raise questions as to why no one is ever allowed to leave. Why do the dead have to be brought back over and over? (There may have been an answer in the book I just can’t remember it). The risen dead have certain rules to live by and there’s consequences, things can take a drastically bad turn and the risen dead can become murderous monsters known as Shades. On a seemingly routine job the kingdom princess Valoria accompanies Odessa and Evander and the reader gets their introduction into the land of the dead and the way things work. Only a short time after the task is done there is a shock death. A loose Shade on the rampage. Odessa starts to question things about her relationship with Evander. The mystery in the dead lands is progressing, the Shade attacks are getting more frequent. Early on in the novel there was a really surprising twist I would never have guessed at. The characters were great, I loved them all. A+ for diversity, a lesbian couple, a gay couple, and a bisexual lead female. The characters were well fleshed out, their emotions and actions believable. Though I did feel that Odessa could be a tad over dramatic. That being said, in the aftermath of an unexpected tragedy she falls apart. She breaks down. Completely understandable, but she also develops an addiction to a pain numbing tonic rather than dealing with the harsh reality and emotions. There was something very uncomfortable about this. I do understand and logical that it’s so much easier to give into an addiction rather than deal with the feelings when faced with something horrible. I did find the pacing of the novel very slow, something would happen and then it would emotional turmoil and meandering and seemed like ages before anything else would happen. There didn’t feel like a whole lot of action going on. The second half of the novel picked up a bit, a new character is introduced who comes across as quite antagonising for Odessa and gives her more of a challenge, a new lead into the investigation into the increasing Shade attacks sets of a new direction which breathed more life into the novel. Also hinting at the possibility of a new romance angle as well. The character is mentioned in passing a few times earlier in the novel and comes in with her own agenda but finds herself becoming part of Odessa’s investigation. Meredy is a Beast Master, she can control animals as well as being a Necromancer. She’s smart, sassy and not afraid to call Odessa out on her bullshit. She doesn’t follow blindly, though she has some pretty misguided ideas of her own necromancy when she makes her appearance. She provides a good counter balance to Odessa. When the force behind the Shade attacks is finally revealed there was a bit of eye rolling why didn’t I see this coming from a mile away? Kind of amusing in a way, should have been fairly obvious but actually it was quite clever that I never managed to figure out the twist to see it coming. While some of the novel I found slow and boring it did have its moments. I didn’t get some of the magical concepts. There were some of it I liked. It was certainly interesting and creative and not a fantasy type I’ve seen done a hundred different times. So plus points for uniqueness. I did buy a finished hardback, I may have to read this again at some point before the next one comes out.

Don’t let the pretty cover fool you, this book is dark, but that’s a give-in since Karthia is a land that hosts both the dead and the living. Odessa of Grenwyr, aka the Sparrow, is a member of an elite group of master necromancers who raise members of the royal family from the realm of the dead for a kind sum. The necromancers give the dead a sabbatical from the deadlands and transport them to the realm of the living so that they may spend their with relatives. When raising one member of the royal family doesn’t go as planned, Odessa and co must figure out why the dead are disappearing and shades, monsters that are corrupted forms of the dead, are popping up in Karthia. The magic system in Reign of the Fallen is one unlike I've seen in other fantasy novels. Each member of the living citizens possess their own abilities unique to their eye color. Blue eyed individuals are necromancers, brown eyed individuals see how things work (i.e they are inventors and creators), gray eyes are for weather-changers, green eyes are for beast masters (control over animals), and hazel eyes are for healers. Additionally, the world created in this story includes magic abilities that come with a cost: healers experience temporary paralysis after healing, and non-necromancer individuals venturing to the deadlands to bring back a loved one results in that person losing fertility. I enjoyed seeing a more rule-based and structured magic system, as it was interesting to see how characters navigate the consequences of using their abilities. I liked that these powers can come as a toll for the characters. The rules create checks and balances for how the characters are able to use their power, which is refreshing to see. The cast of characters in Reign of the Fallen is vast, nuanced, and delightful. Some highlights of Reign’s cast includes: a villain whose motives aren’t completely impossible to understand, magical animal companions, dead who communicate through the language of flowers, lgbt rep, and a hard-headed but resilient protagonist who struggles to find out who they are in the world. There’s a character in the book for anyone reading it and readers will be able empathize and relate to the characters. My main critiques for this story are mainly related to pacing. It was a little slow at the beginning, as the first bit of the book involved world building and setting things up. Despite this, the pacing picked up later in the book. Additionally, the reveal of the villain wasn’t super surprising, but the author creates a narrative to help readers understand the villain’s perspective and motivations. Reign of the Fallen has truly lovely prose in it, covering themes such as life and death, belonging, friendship, and grief. I wanted to underline and mark up large sections of the book! This is a great book for those who enjoy a strikingly different magic system, a diverse cast of characters, and eloquent prose.

A fascinating novel with a beautiful cover that suffers just a bit of hiccups in the storytelling. What’s tenacious about the novel is the execution of the zombie-like royalty. There’s a caste system here where royalty refuses to die, allowing themselves to be brought back to life to continue ruling, keeping society somewhat stagnant. They are zombies in the sense that humanity cannot look upon them or else they turn into the very zombies commonly found in literature. It is a unique approach to telling a horror story while also not saying the z-word. It shows the reader what the creatures are through action and interaction rather than telling the reader what the shades are. Now while there are points in the story where the author does show instead of tell, but those instances are used for world building very early on in the novel to explain Odessa’s purpose and the hierarchy before it focuses on building the novel through action and the like. What’s excellent about Odessa is her personality. When the novel opens she is this acclaimed necromancer, brightest and youngest of her age, so there is the sense that she is going to be this strong character with limited flaws. However, once she suffers a tragic loss, her foundation breaks, revealing a very human and flawed character. She loses herself to her overwhelming sense of sadness and heartbreak becoming disastrous to herself and those around her. She is suffering, and it is her suffering that makes her so relatable as a character. She is a thoughtful character, a character that expands beyond her limits, her prowess. She is ultimately flawed and trying to find herself in this world that is rapidly changing around her. As good as the story is, it is not without flaws. There’s some scene structure that needs work because as the story moves forward, many elements blend the scenes ultimately working against the pace of the novel. It is a little disorienting because it does not root the character in the sequence. The reader quickly forgets the purpose of the scene is as they try to remember where to place the character. Moreover, as far as representation for the LGBTQ community goes, the romance in the novel does a disservice to that community. It is great that the main character is bisexual and finds a female love interest, but what hurts this budding relationship is the constant allusion to Odessa’s previous partner, who just so happens to be the brother of her new love interest. There are so many instances where Odessa is drawing so many commonalities between the two that it takes away from the relationship. There are times where the reader has to ask the question “is she falling in love with her because she reminds her of him?” and that’s not a question the reader should think about. It would have been better if the author had not laid out all the resemblances between the two, the romance and relationship would have been built stronger otherwise. Nevertheless, it is an interesting novel. (????? | C+)

The concept alone (and also the sparkly cover. I'm a sucker for sparkly covers) made me request it immediately when it was available on Netgalley. That and I follow Sarah Glenn Marsh on Twitter and she's mentioned how it was a story about queer girls. I was hyped. I was ready. I ended up a little disappointed. I want to establish how much I loved the concept. The concept was the coolest thing ever. I loved the idea of necromancers working for good, doing their best to keep the dead "alive". I loved a kingdom that's had the same king for hundreds of years, a king that outlawed change. But nothing felt right when I read the book. Maybe it wasn't for me, that happens. I felt the execution needed work. Few scenes felt tense, and the ones that did were immediately rectified by having the tension swept away. At one point, the main character sacrifices herself to kill a Shade--the undead monsters--by pulling it into a raging bonfire, since fire is one of two ways to kill the Shades. That's such a good moment! The main character sacrificing herself, her health, to save the people around her! She's pulled out of the fire, horribly burned, and I just knew that was going to be a huge tension point for the entire book! She's burned! She's hurt, but she's supposed to be the kingdom's best necromancer, how will she defend everyone from Shades when she... oh... a healer came up. Okay, sure, he'll take away the worst of the pain but she'll still be worse off because of her rash actions... Oh. She's 100% healed, good as new, like nothing happened. Well. Shit. That, I think, was the worst that can happen in a story. Characters fall to ruin from their own actions but never feel the lasting consequences. Yes, they spend half a page thinking they're going to die from the burning, but then by the next page they're perfectly okay thanks to a healer's magic and they learn nothing. I wanted to see characters suffer from their own misguided actions and become better for it--that's how character development works! But it never happened within Reign of the Fallen and it sucked all the fun out of the book for me. I have to give this one three stars for stellar concept, a pretty cover, lots of queers and badass ladies, a deep look into addiction and grief, and getting me to at least finish the book instead of DNF'ing it. Unfortunately, this won't be one I'll be revisiting or picking up a sequel to. Though I've seen lots of other people love it, so perhaps it just wasn't my cup of tea.

This was such a fun read. I enjoyed this magical world and the characters. It started a bit slow for me, but it was enjoyable still. The cover for this is phenomenal, and would have sucked me in without having a good story. Anyone that enjoys The Abhorsen Series will love this.

TW: substance abuse and addiction Can we just take a minute to talk about the cover?! Just look at it! It’s so beautiful!! It’s my personal aesthetic–pink, skulls, and a crown. I’m so glad the story inside is just as beautiful! I can’t wait to add this gorgeous book to my bookshelves!! “The Dead need me far more than the living, and I, them. Without Dead to raise, I’d be nothing but an orphan. As long as the Dead are around, I’m their sparrow.” Odessa a.k.a. Sparrow is a necromancer in the land of Karthia. Her job is to raise the dead by going into the Deadlands, the realm of death, to bring them back to the living. Once the Dead come back from the Deadlands, they must keep themselves completely covered because if their flesh is seen by someone who is living, they will be turned into a Shade. A Shade is a monstrous being that feeds on spirits and people. Kind of like a zombie. There is so much more to this story than just raising the dead and fighting of Shades. It delves into deeper topics such as grief, substance abuse, and addiction. These topics were dealt with in such a raw and realistic way. The grief felt so real it had me tearing up at parts. The substance abuse and addiction was very believable. I was able to understand why this person had turned to these substances and it just broke my heart to see this person destroying themself. “Since you’ve been gone, I don’t even feel right in my own skin anymore. It’s like I’m missing a part, a lung, or a kidney, and the rest of me can’t figure out how to work together without that one piece.” The world that Sarah created is just so fascinating. The fact that the magic a person possesses is directly linked to the specific eye color a person has is just so unique! The Deadlands were so creepy and scary and the land of Karthia was so brilliantly described. I could picture it as I was reading along. I just thought that the world-building was fantastic in this story. I loved so many characters in this story and the diversity was great! There were so many representations of different sexualities and POC. Odessa was a strong main character. I liked her so much, even though she did tend to be a bit selfish at times. I really liked the fact that by the end of the book she was able to realize this flaw inside her. This showed that Odessa grew throughout the story as a person. I also want to add the Odessa is bisexual which is an #ownvoices rep. My favorite character in the book was definitely Aloria. She was so different from every character in the book. She was smart, curious, and creative. She lived in a world where change is not welcome, yet she loved to invent new things, even if that meant she had to hide her creations. Meredy was another character that I grew to love. I didn’t much care for her at the beginning, but as we got to know her, I ended up really enjoying her character. She was such a fierce and loyal person. I could go on and on about the amazing cast of characters but I’ll leave it here and let you get to know the rest of them yourself if you decide to read the book. Reign of the Fallen took me through a roller coaster of emotions. It is such a wonderful first book in a series! I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book! I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a dark fantasy novel or anyone who likes books about necromancers. I am giving this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars! Thank you to Penguin’s First to Read Program and NetGalley for sending me an advanced copy in return for an honest review. Note: Quotes were taken from an advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

Reign of the Fallen was an enjoyable YA fantasy read, with interesting characters, a strong plot, and great pacing. I enjoyed Odessa's perspective and thought her emotions were very realistic. The female characters were especially great, and Kasmira and Valoria were my favorites. I found the ideas in this book to be very interesting - the Deadlands, Shades, magic, change. I see that this will be the first in a series, and I'm especially curious about the magic abilities aspect so I hope that will be explored in the next book.

The book had a slow start for me. At first, Odessa didn't seem like someone I could relate to and the world, while enticing, had something missing. I wasn't drawn in. It was with the onset of tragedy that the world truly began to take shape and Odessa became more than just a paper-thin character to me. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but if it wasn't for the fact that I felt obligated to review it, I might not have made it past the first act.

A beautifully written story that captures the imagination. From the beginning I wanted Odessa "Sparrow" to win. From the description of her past I wanted her to thrive and find nothing but good in her path. But others have their own agendas making Sparrow's life complicated. From the mother of the man she love's disapproving of their choice of lifestyle to the rules of the ruling party that change is strictly forbidden the challenges mounted. During the greatest of her trials, the author connected with the deep emotional state of the characters having me as the reader feeling their sorrow and pain. The story tore at my heartstrings keeping me entranced in the possibilities of redemption.

3.5 Beginning= good, middle= ehhhh, ending= better. The story starts off interesting with you being curious about necromancers and Karthia. Odessa is a good main character, she has her flaws but can hold her own. Then things seem to get muddled.... the characters are excellent, the overall plot and storyline are captivating, it is just the explaining of it that is off. I would have liked a map. The king hates change so people can't leave, but yet people leave to get supplies on ships and to train.... so can only certain people leave, or are those places within the Kings realm and Evander wanted to go outside that? Also, I might have missed it, but the eye color was confusing, it hinted at some, out right told what somewhere, but you don't have to use your magic... Anyways, the end picks up and carries this book with the action, the betrayal, the ultimatum, and the party!

* I'm not sure if it was just the formatting of my copy using the Aldiko Reader on a Samsung S7, but I had two different fonts throughout the file, even changing within a word, and it was hard to read. I had to read this file 1-2 chapters at a time with breaks in between because it was hard on the eyes. 3.5 Stars - This is about what I expected from this book. It was pretty good, not great, and a few things left unexplored. Some of the action early on felt a bit redundant within the story, but the final 1/4 of the book really saved this one. Reign of the Fallen brings us to Karthia, where the rulers are undead and have ruled for 200 years. Wait, what?! Yes, you read that correctly. No this isn't a spin-off of The Walking Dead. In Karthia, the king and many other nobles have long since died and were resurrected by Necromancers. Yes, on purpose. Currently in charge is King Wylding, one of the many nobles who doesn't like change. I don't mean like your grandma who loves Swiss Cake Rolls and doesn't want Ho-Ho's brought into the house. This king and his court is so against change that everything is pretty much exactly as it has been for centuries. They celebrate the same festivals and they have one every week. There are no new inventions. The same people are revived to rule over & over again. You see, once they are "dead", their personalities, much like their bodies, slowly start to rot. The necromancers then have to periodically "kill" them and bring them back. Here we see Karthia through Odessa, an orphan and newly anointed Master Necromancer. Being a YA novel, of course Odessa is a teenager and in this world, the children can train for these magic jobs, that are determined by the color of their eyes. Not all blue eyed people decide to become necromancers. Odessa is rather kick-ass and brave, and despite dealing with grief and addiction, she felt a bit like one of those extra special Mary-Sue characters out there in book land. She's pretty. She's REALLY good at her job. You know the type. As I mentioned, the book deals with grief and addiction and it wasn't in an overly heavy-handed way, which I appreciate now that I am an adult-adult and not a young-adult. I don't need to be clunked on the head with lessons. In this world, we are also introduced to numerous characters that are part of the LGBT+ community and it is refreshing to see that in Karthia, it just didn't matter what gender you and your lover are. However, other than some kissing and close body contact, this isn't really a romance novel. I do feel that elements of the world were left unexplained. Since people can be brought back "to life", is there a population issue? How have the living, especially the poor, not had a rebellion against leaders who do not favor change, if it could help them improve their station? The resurrected beings must be covered from head to toe at all times around the living or else they go from being "undead" to a monstrous Shade. Why do the resurrected spirits still need to eat? And why do they get their food at the same buffet table at the festivals instead of having a private place for these undead nobles to grab a snack? Sure, there's more, but that leads to spoilers so I'll leave those alone. I would read the next book if there is one and I will hope that maybe some of these other world-building questions will be further fleshed out.

I tried to read this but the formatting was terrible and that was a huge distraction. Then, the jump straight into smarmy romance didn't thrill me. I was unable to focus or care enough to read before the download expired.

Reign of the Fallen is an exciting, diverse, and unique fantasy story. Taking place in the fictional medieval land of Karthia and told in first person by Odessa. In Karthia, people have magic and their eye color indicates which magical power they have. Those with blue eyes are necromancers, green eyes are beast masters, hazel eyes are healers, and grey eyes control the weather. Odessa has blue eyes and has recently finished her necromancer training along with her partner and boyfriend Evander. They travel to the Deadlands and bring spirts back to their bodies. Odessa is called Sparrow because she is very good at finding her way out of the Deadlands. The king, queen, nobles, and other wealthy people that have been brought back to life are known as the Dead. The Dead must wear shrouds and masks to keep themselves covered because if their skin is seen they will become a Shade, a murderous monster. King Wylding has ruled over Karthia for 200 some years and keeps the Karthia the exactly same, but that prevents any changes or new ideas from happening. As the story begins, Odessa and Evander are preparing to retrieve King Wylding’s spirit from the Deadlands. They need his living relative, the princess and secret inventor, Valoria, to come with them. As they travel to the gate they are stopped when they find their teacher, Master Nicanor, slaughtered by a Shade. Despite risk, they retrieve the king’s spirit and vow to avenge Master Nicanor. Odessa and Evander return to Deadlands with their necromancer friends Jax and Simeon and their other teacher, Master Cymbre. Their next confrontation with the Shade has deadly consequences. Unable to cope with her loss, Odessa turns to a drug like potion to dull her senses. Under the influence of the potion, she is unable help Valoria and Meredy, Evander’s beast master sister, when they need her. They force Odessa fight her potion addiction when the Dead nobles, queen, and even the king disappear and Shades start attacking cities. Odessa realizes someone is kidnaping the Dead to create Shades and using them to cause mass murder and destruction. Can Odessa discover who is creating these Shades and stop them before they unleash more Shades on the people of Karthia? The story has a quick pace, well written diverse characters, and well described settings. The story keeps a fairly fast pace only slowing a bit when Odessa becomes addicted to the potion. The characters in this book are very diverse in races and LGBT representation. Odessa is bisexual, Simeon is gay, and Meredy is a lesbian and no one holds any prejudices against them. Despite Karthia being a medieval like country, the women are treated equally as the men, they hold titles and do the same jobs as men with no one doubting them. Odessa could be self-centered, but is also brave and loyal. Meredy is serious, strong, and caring. Valoria is not a typical princess, she is an inventor with many ideas. Jax, Simeon, Evander, Master Cymbre, and the other characters are also wonderful with very distinct personalities. The strong friendship between all the characters was perfect. The story does not have a love triangle and no racy scenes. The story does deal with death and has some very destructive monsters, not too gory though. The ending wraps up to story, you learn who is behind the Shades, but also leaves story open with Odessa embarking on another journey. I really liked this book and would check out the sequel. Fans of Three Dark Crowns, Ever the Hunted, Ruined, and other fantasy stories with magic and royalty would enjoy this book.

The plot was compelling. The writing flowed nicely and the pace was engaging with all the action going on, but the first half didn' t completely grip me. I loved the LGBT representation and I'm happy that we also got some addiction representation, but I personally didn't agree with the way her recovery was approached. There was a good portion of this book was solely focused on how she dealt with that hole in her chest. I tried not to let it bother me though since this is a fantasy. I liked how the main character was flawed without being unlikeable.

I'm so glad I got a chance to read this book. There was a lot of heartbreak and pain but there was also love and friendship. Her friends took care of her even when she didn't want the help. She grieved those she lost and went after the ones responsible. Odessa did what needed to be done even if she wasn't sure she would make it out alive in most situations.

The concept of necromancy being so vital to a kingdom and for a king to rule eternal is really interesting and unique. The characters were also interesting, with fleshed out dynamics for the mages of different eye colors. As in most fantasies, the characters also had fairly unusual names, but it's less jarring in this book. At times, I felt like the pacing was strange--very slow in parts that I thought could be breezed by or very fast in parts I wanted to linger in--but that's more of a personal complaint than anything. Overall, I thought it was a fun read with a fascinating concept at its core. I'm excited to read the next book in the series.

I love most of the characters in this book. Reign of the Fallen is lush and vibrant. It was interesting and a strong debut. The atmosphere and world-building is awesome. I can't wait to read the next book in this series!

Not sure what I expected from this book and maybe that is why it fell short. It had an interesting premise. Kings being risen from the dead to continue rule over a city that literally is under law to not change. The dead, and those that go raise them, lose something. I wanted more of an emotional punch from this. I thought this was supposed to be young adult but words like "f***" were just randomly thrown around, not adding a lot, not really necessary. The deaths were violent and gruesome. I felt the pacing was all over the place and I was bored with the stilted dialogue. I can see why people would like this but it just wasn't for me.

I would have loved to have been able to read this but my copy said it was already authorized with another account, meaning someone else downloaded it before me, most likely whoever sent the link did it by accident. I researched this online and it’s common. I guess I’ll have to wait till publication to read this *sigh*.

Unfortunately, this book fell short for me. I didn't finish it. Reign of the Fallen has a beautiful setup, mystery, intrigue, basically everything a fantasy reader can ask for. But after Evander died pretty gruesomely (which was already the second violent death), I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to read much further. Odessa's voice didn't draw me in enough to keep me reading.

Reign of the Fallen is a fast-paced fantasy packed with ideas about magic, identity, moving on from loss and what defines a life well-lived. As an orphan, Odessa relies on her family of choice for support, mostly looking to the other necromancers along with a few other select individuals she has allowed past her heart's fortified walls. However, author Sarah Glenn Marsh makes a strong statement about how grief can blind even the closest of friends; it takes two comparative outsiders to realize when Odessa is slipping into the darkest time of her life, and take the forcefully blunt steps to pull her out. Marsh offers a powerful account of substance abuse, depicting with raw emotion the psychological isolation, desperation and physical effects of addiction. In addition to well-rounded characters, Reign of the Fallen has a very intriguing magic system. The type of magic a person can do is determined by eye color; however, not everyone chooses to be trained to utilize their magic, because each type has a cost that reflects its power. (Holly Black's Curseworker series has a similar backlash built into her magic system.) Healers experience temporary paralysis. Weather working can induce a stroke. Necromancers cannot be raised from the dead themselves, which gives Odessa a clearer idea than most Karthians of the importance of living each moment to the fullest. I would offer a note on the expectations created by the publisher's description: "Reign of the Fallen is a gutsy, unpredictable read with a surprising and breathtaking LGBT romance at its core." In my opinion, the last half of that sentence can create anticipation and expectations that are perhaps overeager and risk overshadowing other portions of the book. The romance alluded to is present, but it's a slow burn tripped up by characters' uncertainty, and didn't strike me as the core of the story - at least this story. It's set up to be much more of a focal point for book 2 (no cliffhanger, though!). If you pick up this book specifically for the romance, just relax and take the story in stride; don't get too worked up trying to read into things that may or may not be there. Reign of the Fallen joins the likes of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series in depicting necromancy as richly layered profession, an admirable calling that requires a high degree of selflessness and sacrifice. A lot of thought has to go into crafting such a world, which in turns offers many thought-provoking questions for readers on life, death and whether or not that boundary should be crossed, even out of love. One point I wish had been addressed more is the economics of Reign of the Fallen's necromancers - only the very rich can afford to be raised, and we don't see as much of the discontent such a divide would inevitably create as I would've liked. This is, however, only the first of a series, and I hope it will come into play as part of the upheaval left in the wake of book 1. Reign of the Fallen will undoubtedly be a popular fantasy title this year, whether you come to it for the diverse characters, unique magic system or thorough fantasy worldbuilding. It has the action you'd expect with a heaping side of intrigue and characters that exhibit a ranged wealth of strengths: willfulness, ingenuity, self-control, loyalty and tenderheartedness, to name a few. Reign of the Fallen offers a wide, satisfying story that will leave readers' curiosity piqued about what further adventures lie in store for Odessa in Karthia, the Deadlands and beyond.

Obligatory Statement: I received an e-arc of this book from the Publisher in exchange for a review and all thoughts are my own.  First thing first, this world is peculiar. The whole concept of bringing people back from the dead was interesting. Yepp, this society is full of classy zombie. Plus, there were rules, like how the dead must wear shrouds after being dead and if the living look upon them then they turn into Shades, or corrupted zombies that kill people or I guess that that would just be a normal zombie. As this was a huge factor in the world I really enjoyed the creativity that Marsh put into it. One of the big factors of the society and one that I found the most interesting, was how it banned change. Yes, nothing new; no new clothes, styles of art, food, scientific advancements, nothing. They aren't even allowed to travel! The devastating part of this ban on change is that the people of the Ashes, or the lower class citizens, is prevented by the law from rising up so they will forever be stuck at the lowest class. However, they are perfectly okay with new construction as they keep making new wings in the castle to help house the ever-growing royal family. This makes sense as the dead are basically running the show and of course they don't want to change as they see there is no reason to. Plus it reflects how the society is literally stagnant or, some might say, dead. There are a few other little things that I love about this society: The flower language is on point and can we please make this an everyday thing. The amount of Festivals that this town has is ridiculous, like how much money do they have? Also why is there a festival for a tomato? Like I love tomatoes but I don't know if I would go to a festival for it.  However, even though the society rejected change women could work. This was not a society that looked at women as fragile flowers to be tenderly cared for at home. No this society was like you want to raise the dead, you want to have a pet bear, hey go do that. I never found a point in the book where any of the female characters or any of the characters were shamed for who they were. Which I think is bloody fantastic. But even though this society was expertly crafted, I still found a couple of holes that I wish were answered and part of the reason why I took off half a star. What was with the eye color? Odessa talks about how having blue eyes means being able to become a Master but then Meredy is said to have hazel eyes and she is a Beast Master. So is your eye color linked to what profession you have? What is everyone else's eye color then? It is a small detail but it is an integral part of the story so I would like answers. What is up with the Goddess? The religion in Karthia is centered around the five-faced goddess, Vaia. Okay, that sounds cool but then they are like oh we don't worship one of the faces, and can you guess which one that is? Yepp, it is Change. So here is my question, if you are not worshipping a face of your Goddess then why is she okay with it? And it is said that she has five faces so does that mean that she originally had six faces or did she already have five and now you just acknowledged four of them? Also, there was a connection between eye color, gems, and the Goddess but not much was spoken about it so I am hoping that there will be some answers to this in the next book. What is with the weirdness of the royal line? And last confusing gripe about the book, how royalty works or more specifically how the royal line works. One of the characters, Valoria, is second in line to the throne. She is not dead. Now, this is a normal royalty line deal, but Valoria talks about how no one can remember how far down the line she is from her grandfather; they just call him the Eldest Grandfather. So this means that no one in between the King to Valoria's brother (he is first in line) has decided to not be turned into one of the Dead? I find that hard to believe. However, I think that this is a deus ex machina incident since the royal lineage does play a major role in the end of the book.  Another lineage question, what are the rules for marriage? Do they intermarry as there are so many of them or are they allowed to marry outside of their little social bubble? My only other large complaint about the world was the beginning was confusing and I have used a bit more explanation as to why things were going on but then I started to grow more familiar with the world and it was making sense. In terms of characters, I loved them. Like the world, Marsh put a lot of work into her characters. The characters are diverse and the majority of the characters are a part of the LGBT community. Odessa, the MC, is a life loving, coffee bean addict who just wants the best for her and her friends. Evander deserved more and I am still not okay. I totally ship the hell out of Simeon and Danial. Meredy is a bloody badass with her bear. Lysander, Meredy's bear, was one of my favorite characters and I loved how Marsh gave him a personality. Valoria is someone I feel I could get along with; she makes illegal inventions, social awkward, and loves her friends. As Marsh pointed out in her "review" on GoodReads there is violence and substance abuse about a third of the way through. Now, I appreciate how Marsh did this; it did not feel fake or that she was only doing it to drive the story. It helped create character arcs and allowed the reader to feel for the characters. Favorite Quotes Another Obligatory Statement: These quotes are from an ARC and they might have changed (or page numbers changed) by finally publishing so they are just here for enjoy until they can be checked by the final copy. "You brought me out of my tower. You helped me realize I have a voice, however small, that deserves to be heard." - 181 "... wild things can never truly be tamed. Only respected." - 185

I had so much fun reading this book!! That feels like an odd comment to make given how much death is in this, but it was really great to experience these characters—especially Sparrow! This book reminded me a lot of Garth Nix’s “Sabriel” because of the necromancy, but I had a very hard time getting through that book because of its slow pace. To me, this felt like all the excitement of “Sabriel” mixed with the fun character relationships of Cassandra Clare’s “City of Bones.” That’s a high compliment from me!! It’s the best of both worlds and I completely loved it. Sparrow is such a force to be reckoned with and it was awesome following her through this story. She’s flawed, but that’s also what makes her so strong. I also loved all her friends, particularly Evander, Simons, Jax, and Valoria because they were my favorites. Yay for LGBTQ+ representation!! The romance between characters was top-notch and it was a breath of fresh air to see characters just be who they are without question of comment from anyone else. The world building was also great to see! It was so interesting to see the eldest great grandparents a million times removed still leading the country and how their fear of change affected everyone. All in all I give this two thumbs way up and I can’t wait to get my hands on a real copy!

Reign of the Fallen is a YA fantasy with a twist. The main character - Odessa is a master necromancer for the kingdom of Karthia. The kingdom is ruled by King Wylding for many centuries. This is done by killing the king and bringing him back to life (rather his soul) from the Deadlands. As the main character, Odessa and her lover partner and allie Evander are the ones who need to travel to Deadlands to bring the kind back. In order to safely bring the king's soul back, Odessa and Evander must fight with Shades (creatures that used to be souls and who now feed off the living) and save the kingdom of Karthia. Would have loved to see the characters described more. Some parts of conversation between the characters felt more like script for movie instead of book.

This book was a powerful force from the first page. The characters were clear, the stakes were high, and it never shied away from imagery of the dead. It just keeps rolling through my mind about the intensity of it all, though it could have used a little more plot development. But the imagery was great, very cinematic. And I loved the diversity, but seriously, it was like finally this is happening and not for the sake of happening, it was just how it was meant to be. Recommended for those who like a slightly darker tale.

When I first picked up this book, I was promised a novel that would defy tropes normally used in YA books; a book that would be unpredictable, a book that would surprise me, and a book that would have many twists and turns that would always keep me on the edge of my seat. In this regard, the book did not disappoint at all. Just the concept of Karthia alone was enough to draw me into the story; specifically, I mean the fact that Karthia is a land in which every gender, sexuality, and race is truly equal to all others, and the only things that distinguish people from one another are, from what I could tell, rank, occupation, and place of residence. In this sort of almost utopian setting, diversity flourishes, and the reader is introduced to a wide array of characters with all sorts of incredibly interesting personality types, talents, and skills. Thus, setting and characters in this novel were both strong points of the book. What I, personally, found to be a bit lacking was the plot. I did not particularly find Reign of the Fallen to be a particularly plot-driven novel, but that’s okay since the plot of the novel was clearly not supposed to be the focus of the novel. The plot points that did occur throughout the novel were indicative more of the author’s trying to build the world of Karthia in all nuance necessary or to develop dynamic characters that the reader could get attached to. The plot did not seem to exist to create interesting situations with which to throw the characters into or pit the characters against. I found myself consistently asking myself whether or not I really cared about what was going on, and I also noticed I was skipping plot sections to focus on character interactions and the romance between Odessa and her love interest. But I should really stop complaining; this was an excellent book, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s interested in a fantasy they could get lost in and feel like they are a part of. There is, apparently, a sequel coming, and I can confidently say that I will be picking it up.

This was by far the most intriguing fantasy I've read in a long time. The premise of necromancers bringing people back from the dead, spirits turning into beastly zombies, and a world where sexuality exists without question come together to create a one-of-a-kind YA LGBTQ zombie fantasy full of adventure, action, sorrow, grief, friendship, and hope.

This is a debut book that I enjoyed but did not love. The world building is interesting and there is decent action. The characters are mostly well developed with interesting secondary characters. The romance element made it a sensual book but was off the mark for me. I look forward to meeting the author and reading another book.

Sarah Glenn Marsh's REIGN OF THE FALLEN was a thrilling, exciting read! The premise is very interesting; necromancers who continually bring back the dead so that they may live among the living, including the king. The author put a lot of thought into this world, and we get to read about the processes of all the mages: necromancers, beast mages, healers, etc. I particularly liked Odessa's relationships with her foster brother. There were a few things I did not enjoy, however. I wasn't a big fan of the romance (any of it, honestly), but I did love how same-sex relationships were normalized in this fantasy world. I also thought that some of the plot was, for lack of a better word, unnecessary. The first half dragged for me, and then much of the really important events occurred in the last third of the book. Maybe it will be better in the sequel though. Overall, REIGN OF THE FALLEN was a fun read; fans of The Bone Witch will enjoy the dark tones in this book.

Highly engaging YA fantasy with bonus points for characters diversity vis-a-vis race and sexual orientation. (It's also really great when high fantasy worlds feature gender equality as a given, and not something for female characters to strive for, often as a plot point or as shorthand for character development.) I really liked the magic system here, with certain types of people having affinities for certain types of magic. The MC's magical affinity is necromancy, a highly prized ability in a world where the rich and powerful keep themselves and their families in charge indefinitely by simply getting themselves resurrected. It's an interesting take on the concept of loss, death, acceptance, and the changes that these things bring -- changes that can, but probably should not, be avoided by disavowal of death in this storyworld. So that's the backdrop. The foreground includes the mystery plot (Someone is intentionally turning the peaceful dead into zombie monsters!), the romances (love interests die, people ultimately find new ones), a pretty well done addiction/recovery arc, and plenty of cool relationships that run the gamut from friendships to mentorships and back. I enjoyed this book. The only major criticisms I have are A) it can be a bit repetitive. For example, Odessa tends to beat herself up a lot, emotionally, about the same things over and over again. In some ways this makes sense, but it other ways the things are, well, stuff that I imagine she'd already have come to terms with by the time this book even started. Like... okay, Odessa, you're an orphan. We get it. This is a common problem in YA, but it would have been nice not to see it so much here; and B) I'd have liked more background on one of the major world-building points, that is, the King's decision not to allow any change from tradition, to the point where advances in medicine or any other science are rejected. This is basically saying "Death = Change. We hate both and therefore reject both." As I implied earlier, one of the book's messages is that people must ultimately accept both of those things as a part of life, but this still does not really delve into how the old ways came to exist in the first place.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I did enjoy the story and it was definitely a refreshing take on a fantasy novel. However, it was extremely painful when Sparrow's boyfriend was killed in the beginning of the book. I was half tempted to stop reading right then but I wanted to find out how the story ended and pushed through. I don't know that I am really behind the relationship between Sparrow and Meredy because of Meredy being Evander's sister. I am looking forward to finding out where Meredy and Sparrow end up next, along with Lysander.

This is a really creative and unique "YA Fantasy" novel that stands out from a lot of others in the genre, not only because of it's inventive characters and universe (necromancers, the "living" dead, etc.), but also because it doesn't shy away from both the emotions and conflicts that exist in the "tough" subjects - loss, death, love, responsibility. Plus the fact that many of the romances in the story are LGBTQ. And underneath all of that, it's just a really good page-turner of an adventure story!

I really wanted to like this but when the main character is starting to fall for her dead boyfriend’s sister it’s too much for me. It’s just creepy enough I can’t do it.

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh First book in the Reign of the Fallen series 3 stars Odessa is a master necromancer for the kingdom of Karthia. She is tasked alongside her partner and lover, Evander, with bringing back King Wylding- the dead king who has rule Karthia continuously. He is killed and brought by to life countless times to continue his reign. His soul is in the Deadlands and it must be brought back, but there is a price to be a soul outside of the Deadlands. The souls risk becoming Shades- monstrous creatures who feed off life. Shade attacks are rising at an alarming rate and someone is conspiring to raise Shades intentionally. Will Odessa’s skill as a necromancer be enough to save Karthia? Meh. I thought I was going to love this one. It has a promising premise and it sounds super awesome, but in all honesty, Reign of the Fallen is boring. It is lackluster in plot, description, and character development. I could not be bothered to really care what was happening to the characters because I did not care about what would happen. The stakes were high, but the character development was so lacking that the high stakes didn’t make for an unputdownable read. For instance, the world building, especially the descriptions of the Deadlands, were lacking in fullness. It felt as though the reader should already be familiar with this conceptual world and should know exactly what Marsh was describing. This caused Reign of the Fallen to read more like a sequel than the starting book in a series. I will give Marsh one thing: she is not afraid to kill off characters. This is only book one and very integral characters were killed off. It made the plot a little wonky, to be honest, but it also made me respect how ballsy Marsh is as an author. She is not afraid to take risks and chances with her characters. It’s very admirable. The downside is that the characters are so lackluster that I did not care what their fates were. However, Marsh’s strong suit is battle scenes. The battle scenes start out early and are very strong. It made for very thrilling chapters, but it quickly became boring when they weren’t fighting. Whimsical Writing Scale: 3 The main female character is Odessa. I honestly don’t have much to say about Odessa. I thought her character development left much to be desired. At times I liked her and at others it felt as if she wasn’t really a character, but a grieving or killing machine. There was no in between. Either Odessa was wracked with grief or she was seeking vengeance and wanted to kill everything in her path. It wasn’t effective. Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2.5 Reign of the Fallen has incredibly diverse characters. Odessa is bisexual. Her two male friends are in a very healthy strong relationship. Meredy, an eventual love interest, is lesbian. There is a lot of representation in this fantasy novel, which is great because fantasy is not as diverse as one would think, but it is getting there. SPOILERS ABOUND So, Odessa’s first relationship is with Evander. They have been together for a very long time and have a strong passionate relationship. Evander is killed in the Deadlands by a Shade relatively early on and it causes Odessa to experience a lot of grief and pain. This leads to making a lot of misguided and uncomfortable romantic decisions that made me feel a little icky. First problem: Odessa starts a friends with benefits relationship with Jax, Evander’s best friend, to help fill the void of Evander’s death. It doesn’t take long for this to occur and it made me really uncomfortable because it is one of my least favorite tropes when characters hook up to cope with grief or heartache. It is not effective and it actually causes more damage than healing. So, that left a sour taste in my mouth. Then, Odessa falls into instalove with Evander’s sister, Meredy. Talk about awkward. My biggest problem with this is best described by this quote, “Not after we’ve finally started talking about Evander, sharing memories to keep him with us. Not after… well, everything she’s become to me.” It’s just too much. If Meredy was anyone else in the court it wouldn’t be awkward, but it’s her dead lover’s sister. It’s just so uncomfortable and every time I would get over it and start to think their relationship was cute, she would mention Meredy and Evander looking similar and I felt creeped out again. It made me wonder if Odessa actually has feelings for Meredy or if she is trying to recapture Evander by being in a relationship with someone so similar to him. So, yeah. That was the biggest problem I had with this novel. The love interests were just… odd. However, Valoria was a really cool character and I really enjoyed her friendship with Odessa. I just wanted to see more of their friendship outside of the little bit we did. Character Scale: 2.5 I do think a lot of people will love and adore the Reign of the Fallen. I just wasn’t one of them. The good news is that it ends like a standalone novel and I don’t feel like have to pick up the sequel, which is nice because I don’t think I will. I have a feeling this will be a favorite for a lot of fantasy fans and I look forward to seeing everyone’s excitement over this novel once it’s released. Plotastic Scale: 3.25 Cover Thoughts: I LOVE this cover. It’s fabulous. Thank you, Razorbill/ Penguin for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

What I loved most about Reign of the Fallen was our main character, Sparrow, who is on one hand, super talented at being her bad ass necromancer self, and also a bit selfish. Her personal growth was so amazing to witness because she has to learn to handle her grief and still find purpose. Seriously. It was so amazing to witness our main heroine who is both legendary, but also incredibly fallible and vulnerable. Here's to humanity. And diversity because not only is Sparrow bisexual, but most of the other characters are also queer. There's a m/m relationship and f/f relationship too. Having Reign of the Fallen for my first book completed in 2018 was a real breath of fresh air. The romances were soft and sweet and the female friendship at the heart of the second half of the book is what my dreams are made of. But what hooked me forever was the thematic exploration of death/celebration of life. In the world, it's a constant totally normal thing to keep bringing back dead people. And then they live, get a bit dangerous, kill them, and bring them back again. All necromancy books should be like this - seriously, I loved the premise. But it brings up all these questions about: how do we life our lives, what value do we put on life. And the exploration and opinions on this issue were so wonderful to read about. ]

I was super excited to get this book and it sounded interesting and right up my ally. There were aspects I really loved about this book but, overall, personally, it fell a little flat for me when it was all said and done. The plot moved moved very quickly (especially with the relationship and comparisons). It just felt rushed for me though I do know time passed but it felt like in the blink of an eye and made it harder for me as a reader to adjust. I would have liked to see more world building and understanding the characters better because I really did like the characters and would love to know more about them! It was missing something that didn’t have me fully engaged. I enjoyed a book that dealt with grief, addiction, and LGBT characters. I was really intrigued by aspects like professions based on born traits but again I just wanted more. Overall, I would give it 2.5 stars. There were some great characters in it and I think that there will be many people who really enjoy this book!

Reign of the Fallen was a great fantasy story. I enjoyed learning about the necromancers and the different types of magic. It was an interesting concept that the type of magic relied on the person’s eye color. It was a bit confusing at first, because you were still learning the necromancers role and about shades. I loved that the LGBT theme was very natural in this world. While the storyline took a few unexpected twists early on, I was eventually able to see the undertones of the story and predict the ending. I loved a lot of the side characters. Valoria was a fascinating character and I adored Lysynder. This would definitely be a world worth exploring more.

I had heard a lot of good things about this book before I decided to read it. I love how the characters in this book are all different sexualities. And it’s awesome to see it written where it isn’t a big deal at all! No one is like OMG your Bi!? It’s normal and there’s not even a second thought from anyone. I loved the premise of this book also. The different types of magic everyone has because of their eye color is awesome! Plus being able to bring the dead back to life is super cool! Even if they can’t be looked upon by the living or they’ll turn into monsters. I’m definitely looked my forward to more Odessa adventures! Especially if she’s traveling with Meredy and Lysander! I totally forgot to mention how much I love Lysander!!!

Oh goodness me!!! This was an action packed gem of a book. I was so excited to receive this ARC from First to Read. I have heard a lot of early buzz about this book and it didn't disappoint. The author did a great job addressing tough hitting issues like addiction, sexual orientation, and death. This was a truly unique read none of the themes were over powering. The story line was action packed and thoroughly entertaining. The story started with a bang and didn't stop until the very end. There were twist and turns. Violence and gore was spread through the whole story. The author made me feel like I was in this action packed fantasy. Karthia is a location where I would want to visit. So many different types of people with varying abilities all intermingling with the dead. The characters exhibited strength, dignity, and great personalities. Odessa was a strong, smart warrior who was so entertaining. She had all the traits that a strong female character needs. The reader even got to see her at her worst and she still exhibited such strong character traits. This story also contained one of my favorite characters of the year.... a grizzly bear! Not just any grizzly bear this one is controlled by a beast master and helps all the characters against the Shades (dead individuals who have turned into snarling, carnivorous creatures). I gave this book a 4/5 stars. It was a really solid book. If you like fantasies you will like this one. The only reason I didn't give it a five was because I predicted the villain about 120 pages in. I get really annoyed when I can predict the villain but with all fairness this happens to me frequently. I highly recommend this book. I would like the sincerely thank First to Read for this ARC in exchange for a fair honest review.

This story started out a little slow for me. It took me a bit to figure out what a necromancer and a shade were but once i did the story quickly captured and held my attention. It had a nice flow to it all the way through. My heart was breaking right along with Odessas at all the losses she suffered. Going on the journey with her to fight the shades really captured my interest, at times I didnt even want to put the story down. Im giving it 4 stars only because i struggled in the very beginning. it was a very good story and I have already recommended it to my daughter. I will recommend to others that like these kinds of stories. Thank you for choosing me to be a First to read recipiant of this story. Enjoyd it greatly

Reign of the Fallen is dark, edgy, and suspenseful! It is full of passion, betrayal, and danger. For a book about Necromancers and death, this one is definitely full of life! This book had such depth and imagination! I loved it! For a book that was about necromancy it offered a vast amount of beauty about life, love, and heartache. And, it was just so good! I thought the story-line was quite unique and highly intriguing! There was a fair amount of danger, horror, betrayal, and excitement, along with some fascinating twists and turns! The idea of employing necromancers in the kingdom to bring the royalty and nobility back to life was genius. I really loved the darkness of it and the consequences of the Dead being seen without their shrouds.  The writing, and world building, was incredible. The imagery used was descriptive and captivating, and I could see the world of Karthia in my mind while I read! I was pulled in from page one and couldn't stop reading. There was beauty, horror, and human connection within the pages. The kingdom of Karthia was highly imaginative, and the creation of the mages, and their classes, was outstanding. I loved how everything was laid out so elegantly, making me feel like I was a part of the story! And, the characters, oh, how I loved the characters! Odessa was such a fascinating main character. She was kind, caring, and powerful, but also had a sense of vulnerability deep down. I loved her as a Master Necromancer, but also felt like she was a strong symbol of irony, as she dealt with death as part of her career, but spiraled down an emotional hole of guilt and self pity with the loss of someone dear to her.  Princess Valoria was my favorite. She was such a beautiful character. She was a great friend, and always tried to find the good in people. She represented strength and true friendship, and she was also brave and intelligent! Meredy was also a top character for me. She was brave and strong, and had an amazing mage ability. She was witty and sassy, but also represented true friendship and beauty! I loved the girl power represented in the book. I felt like that was an important aspect of the story, along with the strong friendships and loyalties found within the story. I also loved the diversity and LGBT representation! I felt like the more I read, the more involved I became. As a whole, this book was dark and beautiful. All the pieces fit and added to the atmosphere of the story. It had some nice horror and paranormal aspects to it, as well touches of humor and sadness. I did not want the story to end, but I was relieved to find out there will be a sequel! 4.5 stars. Thank you to First to Read for providing me with this free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Alright. So I was really excited to have gotten this as an arc. I mean it has the living dead, f/f heroines, royalty, swords and fighting, monsters, AND it has a pretty kick ass cover. But honestly, the synopsis of this book might be the best thing about it. Truly, there is no one more disappointed than me. Never do I go into a book not wanting to love it. I wish I could like it even half as much as the others here, but it's not happening. Sorry. The writing is dry. And this is a frustration that just builds and builds and builds. I wish I could show a sentence or a paragraph to show this, but it doesn't come across the same way as reading chapters of this. Everything just cuts right to the chase so you'll never have to worry about over flowery descriptions or drawn out narration. It's just there. Which makes the whole mystery/thriller aspect of this story non-existent. I thought coming into this that we'd have time along side our main character to unravel what's been happening to the dead. But apparently not. The characters quite literally toss out conspiracy theories and explanations THE SECOND they witness a clue or have an experience. Every single thing is just handed to the reader on a silver platter regardless of it makes sense in the moment or not. Case in point, right at the beginning a Shade attacks a party. The shade turns out to be one of the missing nobles a town or so over. My thoughts extended to 'oh that's odd how did he get here?'. Everyone else just went and jumped to 'omfg YOU brought him here to kill us! The necromancers are betraying us! TREASON!!' Oh yeah and this is being said from the dead who rely on said necromancers to bring them back to life. But sure gather the pitch forks and just rush them out of town why don't you. And if the above wasn't enough, the main character, Odessa aka Sparrow, is SO annoying. I've hated a few shares of characters and she is right up there on that list. I can think of her as the ya version of the main from Girl On The Train. My pet peeves with her is just too long of a list to go through here. But I think the gem is that she's actually pretty weak. In the beginning you think you're getting a pretty badass fem girl here. NOPE. She nearly gets herself killed 4 times in this book and every time someone else saves her. So she is saved repeatedly by other people because she (and I'm not even exaggerating) just gives up. In summery, most of her fights are like this: there's nothing for me to do but wait for the sweet blow of death. She doesn't even struggle or try to think of ways to get out. At one point another character says to her "I under estimated you" and I had to close the book and LAUGH. Please. More like 'if only your friends and love interest didn't get in my way' because if Odessa had her way she'd have died. Then, the whole addiction thing is another nail in the coffin for this. Not only does it take up too much space and not serve any point but to show that she's grieving and can't handle her own emotions. But then she's suddenly over it after a detox. Back to 100% like nothing happened. Sorry. Addiction doesn't work like that, fantasy land or not. But Odessa is just the tipping point. The rest of the cast isn't that much better. I don't have any feelings close to love or even liking them within me. I'm just cold and dead inside. (Though truth be told, Valoria is okay. I thought she was going to be the love interest, and I still think she should be. The actual love line is ???? I don't even have a word for it. I understand it? But I can't say I enjoy it.) So yeah, I just really did not enjoy this book. Don't waste your time with it because it doesn't get better. Two stars because one stars is saved for the most despised books. So that's some good news.

I thought this was going to be a hard hitting from the beginning. I couldn’t even finish it. It could be the mindset and expectations I had going into reading it, but it just wasn’t good. It was slow going and it didn’t capture my interest. It seems to want to focus too much on the romance rather than the necromancer aspect of it. It’s got some neat parts, but not enough to keep my interest longer than a few pages.

3.5 stars Likes: *I thought it was interesting what the necromancers did and how they brought back the dead. I thought it was a cool original idea. *I like that depending of what eye color you had, that’s what your career would be. Me personally would like to be a beast master! *I like how shades became to be and the lengths they try to prevent that from happening. The shades area scary bunch and I like how they become stronger. *I like the way Odessa/Sparrow dealt with her grief. The struggling of it and how she copes with it, makes it feel more realistic. *The minor characters are as cool as Odessa. *I like the twists that came along and I like the way it ended. I liked guessing who was causing all the trouble for Karthia. I called it after while but cool nonetheless. *I like that it ends like a standalone but leaves room for more in the world. Dislikes: *It was a little slow to get to the point. It wasn’t bad but I would have liked the pacing to be more exciting. *The romantic aspect....love that is has LGBT representation but I found who the main character falls for a little weird just because who that person meant in her life. There was a lot of comparing the two which is one of the reasons I didn’t like it. If this person was portrayed as a different person in the book then I would have loved it.

Spoiler-free Thoughts: So i feel like this book does a lot of good things. FOr example, she tackles grief, addiction, love, friendship, loyalty. And while she does this well, I feel like the plot was... eh? The secondary characters were a little flat. But the the main characters were well fleshed out and i related to them. Idk... kinda hard for me to review this rn. Characters: Odessa was an amazing character. She was raw and flawed after the death of her (basically) fiance. Her reaction was so real. Additionally, Evander's sister Meredy was also pretty well fleshed out. Their friendship was believable as they're both grieving the loss. Now... the support characters... I don't really know much about them other than superficial charateristics. Like... She has two other necromancer friends, and a mentor, and a princess friend. They've got certain things like inventor, gay, support system, mother-figure, etc. But they each have like... one. And that's it? Plot: I enjoyed certain parts of this. The mystery was interesting, but at the same time, i figured out who/what the Big Bad was pretty early. Seemed a little... rushed? to me? Writing Style: I really loved the writing style of this. Sarah has a way with making you feel what the main character is feeling. I felt for Odessa, i worried with her, i grieved with her, and ultimately related to her on some level. Well done. World Building: I wanted more. The end.

I HATED this book. I kept hitting stuff that had be going "Ugh, gross, I don't want to read this" but then I kept pushing through. DNF'd at 84 pages in, after the healer heals the scratch on her arm (that is totally fine and healing normally on its own) but then does nothing after she ALMOST DIES IN A FREAKING BONFIRE BUT SOMEHOW EMERGES TOTALLY FINE, even after lengthy descriptions of how painful it is and, I quote: "Sparks fly as we roll into the heart of the blaze. We land on top of each other, and as the Shade burns, so do I. Pain consumes me as my flesh sizzles, searing up my hands, my arms, my face. Searing everything. I wish to Death that I could float up out of my body, just leave this burnt shell behind. I’m not sure which of us howls loudest." ...Um, and you don't need healing after that? You're just totally fine? They brush it off as "Oh, your dress took the worst of it." Did you miss the part about her FLESH SIZZLING? Done. I'm just done. This isn't the first bit of stupidity, but it's by far the worst. They just move on to the nobles accusing them of bringing the dangerous dead thing to their party. Oh, no, wait, here's the bit that really got me: "He pulls me tightly against him, and for a moment we say nothing, united by our love of the job and so much more." She talks about loving her job (as a necromancer) so much, I think she wouldn't love him if he wasn't a necromancer. "United by our love of the job and so much more" indeed. OH! And they can't be together because his mom wouldn't approve of him dating a necromancer, and they need his mom's permission (for some reason?) to get married. LOL, wut?! Yeah, no. Done. Life's too short to read garbage books.

I waited with great anticipation to get my hands on an early copy of this book, and somehow when ‘the time came’ for me to read it, I had three early copies in my lap. I was obviously meant to read it, and it definitely spoke to me, just from the cover and description. It was definitely worth the wait! This isn’t just a story about a master necromancer called Odessa (aka Sparrow), it’s so much more. The author Sarah Glenn Marsh, has done an amazing job of world-building, one of a land called Karthia, so vivid, I could imagine it up on the big screen. The story is filled with dark monsters called Shades, the shrouded dead who live among the living, and a monarchy that is looking more and more fragile as the book precedes. There’s also a lot of blood and gore as these dark monsters must be slain, so there’s plenty of action, and as a reader, we find out some people have special powers according to their eye color, bringing us a very fantastical and superhuman element as well. But what this lavish fantasy is really about, is a tale about love, grief, friendship, life and death, and loyalties. I was taken by surprise at the levels of loss Sarah wrote about. My own experiences with grief made me deeply feel emotional at some parts of this novel, bringing me to tears, and the lead character struggles with addiction to cover up her grief. I want to appreciate this attention to what loss can do to someone, because this is a vital part of the novel. There are also deep friendships and new loves (between same sex characters) that are written about in this book, and Sarah does it with such tenderness and with her beautiful writing, that it’s seamless to the plot but something that many readers have been waiting for. She shows how complex both can be, and describes the ‘newness’ of this for one of the characters, and it’s delightful to read. Loyalty and trust are key elements running through the story with respect to these relationships. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Reign of the Fallen’ and since I do know there’s another book to follow in its tracks, I’m pleased that this world and its characters will be back. I didn’t so much as ‘read’ this book, I ‘absorbed’ it; I really hope that everyone else will love it as much as I did. Savor this one! *I also have a tiny character part where I die on a page in the second book, so I KNOW there’s another one!

I have very strange feelings about this book and I'm pretty sure I'm going to struggle trying to articulate them. I liked a lot about Reign of the Fallen but at the same time, a lot of it fell just short of hitting its mark. I found the world and the magic exciting, and I enjoyed the main character. But there were some ideas I felt weren't fully fleshed out, as well as some characters who were underdeveloped. First, I just really enjoyed the concept of necromancy as it was shown in this book. I don't usually reach for necromancer characters, but I don't avoid them either. That said, I have very little experience with this type of magical character, so for me, the way Marsh handled it was new and exciting. I've only ever seen necromancers raise corpses into zombie-like beings, through magic. But the necromancers of this world actually travel through gates into the Deadlands where spirits roam before moving on entirely, and bring the spirit back to its body. I've never read anything quite like this particular version of the afterlife and it was very intriguing. I also liked that the mystery surprised me a bit. I thought for sure that there was going to be a twist for one character to turn out bad, but that twist happened to a different character entirely. I was paying such close attention to the wrong person that I totally missed any signs that may have been planted, foreshadowing this person's guilt. The magic system in Reign of the Fallen is a bit underdeveloped for my taste. For example, Odessa, the main character, is known for her ability to navigate the Deadlands. A "pull at her navel" directs her where to go. But this was never explained throughout the whole book. Not all necromancers have this ability - in fact, she's the only one. So I would have liked to see that explained somehow. What we did get to see explained, I really liked though. The magic was tied to eye color. Necromancers have blue eyes; beastmages have green eyes; inventors have brown eyes. There were a few others, too, but those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head. There was also always a price for the magic done. For examples, necromancers cannot be raised after death. They have one life. This brought an interesting bit of conflict to a number of the necromancer characters and is definitely something I think I'd struggle with if I lived in that world. Though I'd be an inventor, lol. My biggest problem with the book was that there was so much potential, but so much felt underdeveloped, particularly the ideas it seemed it wanted to address. King Wylding, the ruler of Karthia has ruled for centuries, being raised from death over and over again. He is very stuck in his ways and has gone so far as to erase one of the sides of their five-faced god - the face of Change. He overrules anyone who tries to better Karthia in any way, including the inventions of one of his descendants, Valoria. She created sewer systems to rid waste from the communities, thus eliminating illnesses. But he shut her down, because that would mean Change. This idea seemed heavy-handed in the beginning of the book, but was mostly dropped after about a third of the story. Wylding is shown as extremely loving and benevolent. He's well-loved by his people. But I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. He wouldn't even let Karthian citizens leave; no one in the entire kingdom knows what lies beyond their shores. It's very strange and never, ever explained. Why was Wylding like this, and why was it celebrated while his people suffered? The characters were also underdeveloped to me. I liked Odessa enough, but she did a few things that were out of character, and at a lot of major points she really annoyed me. Especially during big battle scenes where she would narrate the action while holding the sword that could stop the attack. I couldn't figure out why she just stood there and let people get hurt instead of swinging her damn blade. Mostly, though, I wanted some background. We know she is an orphan and one of the master necromancers was her mentor growing up. I'm unused to having orphans in fantasy settings without their parentage being revealed in a big way. Her upbringing did lead her to her job as a necromancer and I did like how that tied together. There were a handful of side characters, and in my opinion, too many. I don't feel like I got to know the other necromancers well at all. And not a single one of them seemed to have motivations outside of helping Odessa in whatever quest she had tasked herself with. They listened to her orders for no real reason other than that they liked her. The only person who really stood up to Odessa's ridiculousness was her love interest, Meredy, a beast mage who was amazing. She's seriously such an interesting character who had been through hell and back. Also, she had a grizzly bear as her familiar which YES. I really liked Meredy's sass and take-no-shit attitude. I loved her even more when she showed her vulnerable side, especially in her friendship with Valoria. SPOILER However, the ship really grossed me out because she is Odessa's dead boyfriend's sister. Evander died in the first quarter of the book and Odessa mourns him throughout the rest of the story. Meredy reminds Odessa of Evander at every turn. They smile alike, they look alike, they shared an upbringing. It just made me uncomfortable, and when Odessa said she wanted to taste Meredy, "to see if she tastes like Evander," it really sent me over the edge. I don't unship it, but it squicks me out a lot. Which is a shame, because they do go so well together. I just wish Marsh hadn't made the choice to have the love interests be siblings. There were ways around the story without that detail. END SPOILER In the end, I do plan on keeping up with the series and seeing where it goes. It ended on a very open note, one that leaves me guessing where the series is going to go. I liked Odessa's choice at the end, and her reasons why, but I wish she had gone about it differently. In any case, I actually have a few theories as to where Odessa is headed both physically and in her heart. This was not my favorite book of the year, but it was fun and fast-paced. I loved the diversity in the main character and the side characters. Odessa is bisexual; Meredy is a lesbian I believe. There is at least one other wlw character, and an m/m side couple, plus a wide rage of racial diversity as well. If you're looking for more fantasy in that vein, or fantasy with a fun twist on necromancy, this is definitely one to check out.

Stars: 5/5 I really loved this one!! I found both the premise and the execution of the necromancer fantasy storyline to be so well done. Odessa's reactions and emotions seemed so genuine to me and really elicited an empathetic reaction. The atmosphere of the novel had so many elements that reminded me of some of my favorite fantasies (as you can see by the host of comparable titles I have listed), which made me really fall into the story, but it still felt uniquely charming to me. The romance was great and pretty unpredictable. I was a little bummed because I thought one of my favorite characters was going to have a larger role in the story, but it's okay it still worked (I'd read a whole novel just about her tho XD) All in all, I'd definitely recommend this one, especially to fantasy lovers! Chock full of adventure, romance, diversity, and dead people. Comparable Titles: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire Mask of Shadows Graceling Throne of Glass Falling Kingdoms Sabriel

Writing: 4/5 Pace: 4/5 World: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 Plot: 4/5 [B]Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars Ever since I heard about this book Ive been dying to read it. I saw bisexual necromancer and I was sold. In Reign of the Fallen there are necromancers who train to bring people back from the dead. However if any part of the dead persons skin is seen by living eyes they turn into a monstreous zombie called a Shade. With the help of her friends our main character Sparrow is hunting one of the deadliest Shades shes ever heard of while trying to discover if theres more sinister reasons for the Shades appearance. The plot was compelling, but I wish the author hadnt made it obvious who was responsible for the Shade attacks. The writing flowed nicely and the pace was engaging with all the action going on, but the first half didnt completely grip me. I still read this book quickly so it wasnt anything major. The world and magic system were incredibly fascinating. On top of the authors brilliant take on necromancy we get different types of awesome magical abilities, like beast and weather mages. I also thought it was interesting how any kind of change was banned by the King. I loved the LGBT representation and Im happy that we also got some addiction representation as well, but I didnt agree with the way her recovery was approached. I tried not to let it bother me though since this is a fantasy. I liked how the main character was flawed without being unlikeable. Im not usually a fan of hate to love romances, but I enjoyed how it was done in this book. The progression of Sparrows romantic feelings was wonderfully messy and realistic. I could also relate to Sparrows grief since Ive been dealing with it myself lately. It made this book even more impactful for me. I was surprised by how many side characters I got attached to and how much I loved their little friend group. I liked how they all had distinct personalities. Princess Valoria was an amazing inventor and Meredia was a phenomenal beast mage. I freaking loved her bear. Simons humour brought some delightful levity to this dark story and Danials character arc was lovely to read about. I also adored their complexe and beautiful relationship. The last two characters Evander and Jax were the muscle of the group, but they had a lot more layers to them. It was also a nice not to have the King be the antagonist for a change. All the deaths were heartbreaking, but in the best possible way. I wish the book would have been a bit more unpredictable, but overall I still really enjoyed it. This book wrap up nicely, but Im anticipating some piraty stuff in the second and its getting me real excited to get my hands on it. I need more fantasy books with accurate bisexual representation. Plus the cover of this book is like my spirit animal. I absolutely love it. I cant wait to see what the sequels cover is going to look like.

This book was actually really awesome! I normally kind of dread reading some of the YA fantasy novels because a lot of them tend to follow the same rough blueprint of what the story should be and have basically the same played out characters with different names...but Reign of the Fallen has surpassed my expectations. Imagine a world where a loved one passes away and all you had to do was come up with enough money to hire a necromancer to raise them from the dead. In this same world,there are those who can have a strong bond with animals and even control them, and those who can control and change the weather, or heal others with a mere touch. Sounds pretty damn awesome right? But with all these powers there are downsides..the dead cannot have their skin viewed by human eyes or risk becoming inhumane, powerful, bloodthirsty creatures called Shades and necromancers cannot even be risen from the dead. Controlling an animal will cause the beast master to become animal like themselves for a brief period of time after use and healers can do extraordinary things like save people on the brink of death but it leads to temporary paralysis of their arms and they cannot heal themselves. In this world magic always comes at a cost. When someone begins removing the shrouds that cover the dead and purposely turning them into Shades to wreak havoc on innocent townspeople, Odessa must push past the demons that plague her and discover who's behind it and why before its too late. The people she loves and her community are in danger because of the mysterious few who feel the risen dead are simply better off staying dead. If that premise alone didn't interest you, I don't know what will. I've read plenty of books that had an awesome idea but fell flat on the delivery, but this isn't one of those books. The writing was great and easily held my interest while answering all my burning questions as the story progressed. Some parts of the story left me sitting at the edge of my seat, intensely wondering what was going to happen and if I was going to be satisfied with the outcome or have my heart shattered. A few parts of the story that were easy to guess but it didn't make it any less enjoyable. The author did a great job at building an interesting and unique world where magic was prevalent and different power were found in people of certain eye colors. Necromancers had icy blue eyes, those with an affinity for controlling animals had green eyes, people who could change and control weather had grey eyes, etc. She took her time throwing in bits and pieces of information in between the story line to shape the world the characters lived in and left me craving more info about the strangeness of it all. I also liked that in this world there were gay, lesbian and bisexual characters but there was no hate, prejudice or any struggle they faced based on their sexual orientation. In their magical world this just wasn't an issue for anyone, which was nice to imagine. They had bigger problems on their hands anyway. I just read that this is going to be the first book of a series which is great because I would love to read more about this world and the amazing characters Sarah Glenn Marsh has brought to life. She is a magnificent storyteller and I'm interested in the continuation of this book to find out what lies in store for all the characters I came to love. Overall I really liked this book and recommend it for anyone that gets a kick out of reading YA novels, even if they may not be a young adult, like myself.

I received an ARC of this novel via FirstToRead by Penguin Random House LLC in exchange for an honest review. Odessa/Sparrow is one of Karthia's newest master necromancers, leading the recently deceased between the realms of the vast Deadlands and the living world. Necromancers not only lead the spirits between realms but are also in charge of raising and slaying the dead to maintain the extended rule of King Wylding and his kin. When the dead are viewed by the living they turn to hungry Shades who feed of both the living and the dead. When Shades begin to cross over to the land of the living and attack the villages Odessa and the other necromancers are charged with finding those who are responsible. Reign of the Fallen is a YA fantasy novel that discusses death and love and the sacrifices people are willing to make for those they love and what they believe in. This novel does include some content such as violence and addiction as well as same and opposite sex romantic elements which I felt the Author did a great job incorporating into the plot without any element being overdone. I really enjoyed this novel and think that it will be a top read for 2018...plus I LOVE the cover!! I really enjoyed the magical elements of the novel; in addition to the necromancers there are healers, weather mages, and beast masters; which I hope the author will explore more in future novels...I definitely want more of Lysander the Bear. I personally prefer stronger female protagonists and Sparrow came across as someone always needing someone to rescue her but overall this was an enjoyable read.

 


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