Reign The Earth had a lot of fantastic stuff going down, like elemental magic, sneaky uprisings, and sibling relationships!
What it didn’t have going for it was me ultimate love…ahem. But it was still a solidly good book! (If not really YA?!) And the author’s note said she’d been writing and rewriting this book for about 15 years, which is downright amazing. Never give up, okay, writers?! Someday YOU TOO could have your dream published and have me reviewing it and holding it with my terrifyingly disjointed them.
(I don’t know what’s going on with my hands either.)
LET’S MOVE FORWARD.
+ My very very biggest point is: It feels like an adult book.
I personally feel like the heart of YA is about teens discovering themselves and the world, learning to be independent, “coming of age” and still being a messy kid. Plus acne and all that fun stuff. Whereas, Reign The Earth’s main plot points are (a) abusive marriages, (b) pregnancy, (c) politics, and (d) really bad fish???? I’m not saying teens don’t get married/have babies, but the book’s slow methodical style plus just the content felt…not YA. This isn’t so much a “fault” of the book either! I’m just pointing it out and feeling disgruntled because I don’t wanna read about adults adulting.
+ The setting was a delicious treat of magic, deserts, and slightly mysterious lakes.
The attention to detail for the world was marvellous, and I felt really immersed in the made-up cultures. I definitely feel like there are Persian influences with Shalia being from a desert clan. And it incorporated world building through food and dress too?! #nice Rich and dynamic!
+ There’s plenty of elemental magic to knock your socks off.
The book begins with Shalia being about as magical as a frypan. But THEN, surprise (!) she discovers her gift is to control the earth. This could be a spoiler, but also: THE TITLE SAYS IT SO I’M GUILTLESS HERE. Then Shalia goes off to an arranged marriage for peace between her people and his, and her husband-will-totally-kill-her-if-he-finds-she-is-magical. So that’s nice. Supportive. Anyway Shalia is a Soft Cinnamon™ and her power is strongest when she loves something. So if I had it and you left me in a cakery…wow. The earth would basically be mine.
+ So it is dark, because of afore mentioned adult themes. Although not as dark as I expected??
No!! Shh!! I’m normal and there’s nothing to worry about here!! Anyway it (heavily) features the abusive relationship of Shalia and Calix. Basically he’s an alpha male king and horrible. He is the villain though. There’s also a bit o’ torture, death, murder, limbs being blown off, rape in marriage, etc. etc. It’s not a sugary story. I think everything was handled really well and nothing was graphic, but it was all uncomfortable and unfun. (Obviously! It was meant to be!)
+ The characters were complex and interesting!
Calix = a horrific tOADSTOOL and I hated him so much
Shalia = soft and pure but spent the whole book being a damsel so that was tiring
Galen = look I read a book with a mermaid named Galen in it and I couldn’t get rid of that image BUT THAT ASIDE he was a great (also Calix’s brother and he’s nice to Shalia so you just knooooow where the real romance is starting)
Zeph = some random guard who was also freaking hilarious
Kai = sneaky brother of Shalia and I like!
2 billion other characters = I DON’T EVEN KNOW. I’M NOT GOOD WITH SO MANY PEOPLE
+ It was very slow though and…honestly? I wasn’t invested.
Marriage…can’t relate, my man. This is just a me thing and I know many have adored it as is! But I just couldn’t connect to the characters (Shalia was very passive, but not WEAK. She just didn’t direct her story and it took her till like 70% in to start having a voice. So A+ character development. But I’m tired??) And it was SO FREAKING SEXIST…and I just don’t understand why fantasy worlds can be chill with magical elemental powers but not equality. And so many scenes were just getting dressed for dinner and I just…#napping.
Reign The Earth is full of epic earthy explosions and magic and mayhem, and it unpacks poisonous relationships and oppression. Lots of powerful things going down here! I just have the attention span of a refried gnat, so it was too slowly paced for me.
THANK YOU TO BLOOMSBURY FOR THE ARC. Reign The Earth by A.C. Gaughen was published January 2018.
Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.
But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.
This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarletwill hold readers spellbound.