Reaper of Souls

HarperTeen. (Kingdom of Souls: Bk. 2). Feb. 2021. 448p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062870988.
Gr 9 Up–This sequel drops readers back into the action as the cast contends with the fallout of the final battle in Kingdom of Souls, where Arrah triumphed over her power-hungry mother and half-demon sister but lost them both in the process. Now Arrah is back in the Kingdom, rife with powerful new magic—but she is mourning the witchdoctor tribes who were obliterated by the Demon King, and increasingly reluctant to take up the mantle of Ka-Priestess that her infamous mother left behind. Her impossible love, Prince Rudjek, is attempting to balance his feelings for Arrah with his duty to the crown, particularly to his manipulative vizier father whose fervor to ban all magic forces the couple apart. When she finds out there are survivors in the tribal lands, Arrah embarks on a quest while Rudjek makes a far worse discovery—the demon troops they thought they destroyed are simply biding their time in other worlds, and that time is quickly running out. Barron’s vivid prose will enthrall; descriptions of Arrah communicating with the chieftains inside her to wield her ancestral magic are arresting. Absorbing fight scenes have a cinematic, and graphic, edge, pulling no punches when it comes to casualties. The narrative’s perspective shifts among Arrah, Rudjek, and a mysterious storyteller known as the Unnamed Orisha whose emergence leads to a complicated love triangle. Most characters, including Arrah and Rudjek, are Black; Rudjek is described as having lighter brown skin.
VERDICT A breakneck sequel that keeps pace with the first. Purchase the series for fans of rich YA fantasy with ample moral dilemmas, and a touch of forbidden romance.

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