Book Reviews

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh (Spoiler-free) Review

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?


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.

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44 thoughts on “Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh (Spoiler-free) Review

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this review, I am hooked and would love to give this a read myself. It sounds magical and I like the layers including substance abuse that makes me think there’s a layer of reality there that many books lack when delving into fictional stories. Great review!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’re the second person I’ve seen give this one a positive review, so it makes me kinda interested in picking it up. The more serious topics that the novel touches upon really interests me because you don’t see fantasy novels touching on those issues enough

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, LOVE this cover sooo pretty! I’ve seen this book around so much lately. Seems everyone loves it!! So glad you did too!!! ❤ Awesome review as always!

    Liked by 1 person

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