Kingdom Of Souls By Rena Barron | An African Inspired Magic

Kingdom of Souls is not an easy book to read. There’s blood and violence (a lot of the magic relies heavily on blood magic)


Kingdom of souls is a book inspired by African magic and the first book of a planned three-book series about 16-year old Arrah with no gifts must bargain for the power to fight her own mother’s dark schemes—even if the price is her life.

Name: Kingdom of Souls
Hardcover: 496 pages
Release on: September 3rd 2019 by Harper-Voyager
Original Title: The Last Witch-doctor
Edition Language: English

First Thought

I received the ARC copy of kingdom of souls from the publisher by EDELWEISS in 2019, + I was so excited I couldn’t stop my scream, my attraction to the book was due to 2 things namely the lady wearing a kind of Africa Ankara print on the book cover and that it was published by a POC author, I was scared that I might end up disliking the book due to how knowledge I am about magic as an African I got to said am damn impressed by the sheer amount of research that was put in place, there are some word and being that I need to check out online before I could continue.

Born into a family of powerful witch-doctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic.Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.
Trigger Warning: Blood magic, an intentional infliction of self-injury in a ritual, challenging familial relationship, death of a child, death in battle scenes, mention of animal sacrifice (not on page), animalpossession, and mind manipulation.

Reading the book left me speechless for a week cause I was trying to match my voice and how I could construct my feeling even though occasionally the main character piss me off.

Therefore I dump my usual style of reviewing books to listing out the pros and cons in the book I do hope you all end up loving this new style do let me know in the comment if you love this review style.

Am going to talk about the character’s and their development, writing, almost everything my lazy self could remember.


Every author had a unique writing style which can either break or made a plot, for that it’s very important for us the reader to take into consideration which perspective or mentality of the character we are viewing/reading the story from, do take note that this story is told from the eyes of a sixteen-year-old (16) girl.

I personally see no issue with the writing style once I get it out of my head and allow Arrah’s voice to guide me through the story making it consistent throughout the story and there are times that some perspectives are told through another person like the orishas (a term used for the gods in the magic/religion system of the story) which is understandable so as for us the reader not to miss out much on what going on when Arrah’s was not at the scene which was also interesting and a way for Author Barron to bring some touch of personalities to the plot.

This won’t be easy. I’m not a fool, but I am a foolish girl doing a foolish thing. Magic has costs, even for those who make it look as effortless as kneading fufu.


As I mention before I was here for the West African-inspired world in which the story is set in, as far as the magic system was developed, I believe it to be unique and interesting while there is a slight repetitiveness to the writing; like the word “diaphanous” to describe skin so many times, which is a bit odd considering that’s not a word that’s thrown around very often in the modern age but this is set during the time of orishas so that didn’t bother me much after I look up the word.


Apart from me waiting to kick some character’s yeah they pretty much grown up the younger ones that it, those set of older grownup need to really mature yeah I know am too much it just that every character’s in the book left some kind of impression in me whether I want to kiss their ass or not and that speak some volume, as a reader we know what it means when a story is told through one person point of view.

That didn’t stop me from feeling like I do know every single of the character considering that Arrah’s was more of the narrator and the story is focused on her and her decisions, so for that, I feel like the quality of development we were able to get with each character was still amazing, and true to who Arrah is as a character in the story as well.


Originality is really something I’ve found hard to come by when it comes to a story theme, originality does mean different thing to everyone when it comes to theme, so for me, I love the path this book keep In writing a book based on a West Africa Magic and it’s a system, In this book, there are 5 tribes, and only one overall throne magic and each of the different tribes possess the same kind of magic; yet what differentiates them is their speciality in terms of magic.

However, the specialties are not limited to be done only by the tribe who specializes; any witch doctor can do any tribe’s specialized magic and become a proficient in it; it’s all up to personal choice, since magic and the way it play was a such a vital part to the story, make the story feel and smell original.


This book show and ask us what wrong and what right, at what point do you draw the line, it there anyone that he/she is as seem, I like how the book not only represent the Black Woman, we were able to see group of black women in the front line, how she was willing to save her loves and those who were there for her.

The ending to the book gave the future of the story a lot of potential and i want to see the story of what happen before Arrah, one of the relationship that stood out to me was Arrah and her sister what a shame what happen there was that bond in-between them even if they denied it.

When it comes to the pacing of the book, it took a little time for the story to fall in place and why it start a slow which was mainly due to the magic involve, how everything and the character roles need to be elaborate all while building the world properly and once those were out of the way, the pacing was amazing keeping me hook to the next page next page and over again, therefore while this book is not a quick read, you need to take your time to really enjoy the message in the book.

I highly recommend it to anybody who’s looking for something new, fun, and exciting to read.

Where this book really shines for me is in its originality and how much was drawn from the old tradition.

Rena Barron wrote this book so that a whole demographic of teens who rarely get to see themselves be heroes get to see characters that look like them in worlds that reflect the ones they grew up in, or the world their ancestors grew up in that they’ll personally never experience due to acts such as slave trades and she wants teens who aren’t Black readers to be able to read this story and build empathy for people who are not themselves, for that i will say it deliver.

Make no mistake, though. Kingdom of Souls is not an easy book to read. There’s blood and violence (a lot of the magic relies heavily on blood magic) and a lot of dark topics are explored that may make you uneasy, so please proceed with caution.

As I mentioned before, I did receive this book as a digital ARC, but I was not asked to review it on my blog, and therefore, all the opinions stated here are mine and my alter ego.


Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school. Rena loves all things science fiction, ghosts, and superheroes. She’s a self-proclaimed space nerd. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French.

Follow her at @renathedreamer and Rena prefers not to be tagged in reviews to save her sanity. She is represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc

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