Reign of the Fallen had a cover that entranced me. Seriously, the covers for this series are just spectacular. Secondly, I loved the idea of the dead ruling over the living, and although this book did meet quite a few expectations, it did fall flat on some ends. I wasn’t originally planning on reviewing this book, but I figured that since I did a character analysis of Odessa earlier on the blog I would do a review of the entire book.
Odessa of Grenwyr is a master necromancer, working alongside her partner and fiance, Evander Crowther. However, the relative peace is shattered when a rogue Shade kills one of their masters. For a time, Odessa and Evander’s relationship went rocky, but the two emerged with new resolutions…
At least until Evander’s death.
With her fiance gone, Odessa is grief-stricken. Revenge and her addiction to a potion are all that fuels her even as more and more of the undead disappear only to reappear as Shades. The kingdom was growing restless, and Odessa was content with doing nothing until Evander’s little sister, Meredy, falls into the picture. With her by Odessa’s side, Odessa hunted the Shade down, but one question remained: who was causing all the Shades to appear?
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 souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?
First off, I would like to begin with the fact that I loved the areas that Reign of the Fallen explored. In itself, this is a story of tragedy and recovery, and I believe that is a much more beautiful thing than the other story this book tried to be. Reign of the Fallen is not a mystery book. I always had an idea of who the culprit in the blurb was, and I was hesitant to say I liked this book until Evander died.
I was disappointed between the interactions of Odessa and a fellow necromancer, Jax after Evander’s death. I felt that their reactions after Evander’s death were understandable, but also that Jax was kind of there to be there. He had no real purpose or contribution other than the initial reaction that I could sense, and I found that extremely disappointing. Even when Odessa began to doubt her actions, they only lasted for a moment and then she went back to normal which made some scenes seem irrelevant. Odessa was affected by Evander’s death for sure, but not much of her was affected by Jax.
Besides that initial disappointment, I think the book covered Odessa’s reaction to Evander’s death very well. If you want to see why that is, please refer here to read about my character analysis on Odessa.
That being said, the middle of the book did feel a little bogged down. Odessa was written well, but the pacing of the book slowed down considerably as the focus of attention became Odessa’s coping with Evander’s death. In some ways, this is a good reflection of Odessa’s thoughts. Without Evander, time seems to have no meaning, and thus the book slows down to reflect that notion. That being said, I can understand why people would start skimming.
Also, I found Odessa’s relationship with Meredy quite disappointing. The connection between the two felt awkward mainly because there was around one mention of Meredy from the start of the book to almost more than halfway through where Meredy makes her appearance. In my opinion, the romance just doesn’t work and while I love books that include LGBTQIA+ characters, I do believe this book does not capture that aspect very well.
Other than that, I found the plotline to be a little generic. There’s a big bad that the characters have to find and it ends up being a person that the characters thought was on their side. I’m certain you can probably guess who it is as well if you read between the lines.