Title: Reign the Earth
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Format: Hardcover, 435 pages
Rating: 5 Stars
I’ve been super excited for Reign the Earth ever since I first saw it at Book Expo last May. Unfortunately for me I didn’t manage to get an ARC at the time, but a few months later one turned up on my desk at work. Whilst I went into it expecting to enjoy the book, I didn’t think I would love it as much as I did. Reign the Earth is superbly good, and a definite must-read.
Here is the description, courtesy of the book blurb because I actually suck at summarising books!
Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for an end to the violence that has claimed so many of their loved ones. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bone Lands, a country where magic is outlawed and the Elementae–those that can control earth, air, fire and water–are traitors, subject to torture… or worse.
Before she is even crowned, Shalia discovers that she can bend the earth to her will. Trapped between her husband’s irrational hatred of the Elementae and a dangerous rebellion led by her own brother, Shalia must harness her power and make an impossible choice- save her family, save the Elementae, or save herself.
The first thing to know about this book is that it is at times incredibly difficult to read. There are some very dark themes covered in this book, and the forefront to this is an abusive relationship between Shalia and her husband, Calix. Whilst the ways Calix treats Shalia are truly horrendous, they have a fundamental role in her empowering character development. Calix is incredibly controlling, demanding, and not afraid to flaunt his power as the ruler of this world. I despised him as a character, and particularly hated how he would refer to Shalia as Wife all the time.
As for the rest of the characters in this book, I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Shalia is such a lovely character to read about. She has a caring and gentle demeanour, but is also brave and fierce, and has one hell of an arc in terms of character development. I enjoyed seeing her growth in the book, as she started to stand up for herself and the women in this world. It was also fun seeing her power of the earth develop, even though the usage of her power puts her in a lot of danger.
One of my favourite things about this book is the relationships between the characters. There is a strong sense of family, as up until Shalia’s marriage the only life she has lived is one surrounded by her parents and siblings. I really loved that Shalia’s brother, Kairos, wiggled his way into staying by Shalia’s side, and that her whole link to her family wasn’t just forgotten about for the remainder of the book. Something pretty horrible happens to Shalia’s family though, and it had me devastated and upset.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the slow-burn relationship between Shalia and Calix’s brother, Galen. Most YA novels these days seem to have relationships of the insta-love kind, and whilst sometimes this is what I’m in the mood for, nine times out of ten I would much rather read a relationship that actually develops throughout the pages of the book. I really shipped Shalia and Galen, and wanted everything to turn out okay so they could be happy forever. I am definitely looking forward to more of their relationship in the sequel.
As for the plot, this book kept me on the edge of my seat, particularly in the last 100 pages. So much happens in this book, and I never found myself bored or feeling as if the pace had dropped. There were a lot of twists and turns that had me feeling all the feels. It has been awhile since I’ve read a book that I have not want to put down, but Reign the Earth had me wanting to sneakily attempt to read at my desk at work because I had this dire need to know what would happen next. There is a lot that has been left to be explored in the sequel, and it’s safe to say that I definitely need that book in my hands now.
There have been a lot of YA books in the last couple years or so that have this desert princess kind of storyline. I’m really glad that Reign the Earth managed to hold its ground and be refreshing, original, and not just a copy and paste of other books before it.
This review has been a lot of praise, and whilst there were a few minimal things that annoyed me, these were so far and few between that I didn’t even feel compelled to keep track of them. If you can’t tell, I just really, really, really loved this book. In fact, I loved this book so much that before I was even halfway through I had purchased myself the hardcover because I knew this would be a book I would want a finished copy of.
Reign the Earth is one hell of a ride, and a book I want more people to discover and love just as much as I did. Here’s hoping the wait for the sequel doesn’t kill me!
Have you read Reign the Earth? If so, what were your general thoughts about it? I would love to know!
Until next time,