Friday, January 26, 2018

Book Review: Reign the Earth

Title: Reign the Earth (The Elementae #1)
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Romance

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Source: ALA
Format: ARC

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 (goodreads).

Reign the Earth had great potential but missed the mark.
Plot: Reign the Earth dealt with the hardships of war and the mystery behind a race of people blessed with magic. It was a lot darker than I expected which made me more invested in the characters and the worldbuilding; unfortunately, as soon as the Gaughen laid out all of the characters and plot points, Reign the Earth lost its steam. There was a lot of unnecessary back and forth that didn't seem to move the plot forward, but this all changed with the last 150 pages in which Gaughen raced to the end with twists and turns. Although the 440 pages may seem intimidating, I found it easy to fly through this book and thought that there was a lot of good setup for future books. 

Characters: I was surprised that domestic violence and emotional abuse were topics in this book, but I thought that it that author handled it well. Shalia was uncertain and quiet, which was expected since she was a foreign woman in a foreign land and learned very quickly that she didn't have power where her husband was involved. It was hard seeing her navigate her tyrannical husband and I just wanted her to get out of a bad situation and find her voice. I think that the Shalia in Book 2 will be completely different from the timid girl we were introduced to in Reign the Earth. 

One aspect that I could have done without was the romance. It came out of left field and it went from 0 to 60 absurdly quick. There didn't seem to be any build up and that made their interactions seem forced and unrealistic. 

Worldbuilding: I was drawn to Reign the Earth because I enjoyed learning about each culture and their belief systems. The desert people were closer to the earth and had access to magic while Calix's people did everything in the name of their god. I was fascinated by both cultures and thought that Gaughen did a great job of easily explaining the various belief systems. The focus of Reign the Earth was Calix's people and I  would love to learn more about the desert clans in future books. 

Short N Sweet: Reign the Earth wasn't everything that I expected but was worth the read.


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