Review: Reign the Earth, AC Gaughen

January 30, 2018 Reviews 2 ★★★★

Review: Reign the Earth, AC GaughenReign the Earth Published by Bloomsbury on January 30, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 448
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository • Bookworld
Goodreads
four-stars

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 Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.

Shalia, a proud daughter of the desert, marries King Calix in order to buy her people protection. In the kingdom of the Bonelands, the elemental mages, called Elementae, have been hunted down over the years, and when Shalia starts to display powers of her own, she is terrified for her own safety. Wanting to believe that her husband is not as uncaring and cruel as he first appears, she attempts to make a difference to the lives of her oppressed subjects, but she soon finds out that to stand up to oppressors will take all the strength she has.

The premise of this book sounded amazing – a strong woman from an enlightened society, going into a patriarchy to shake things up (with a healthy dose of magic involved). While that is actually what happened to a certain degree, the first half of the book dragged, with the plot taking a while to get moving along.

Shalia’s early days at Calix’s palace are filled with naivety, and Calix is so awful a villain as to be almost cartoonish. I hate the way he calls her “wife” all the time, and even though I’m sure I’m meant to hate him, I found myself hoping for a crack of humanity there somewhere. I guess I prefer my bad guys to be a bit grey – like they’re redeemable. Not Calix. At least, not yet.

The romance, when it does appear, is slow-burning and rather delicious. I won’t say more on this in case it’s not obvious who I’m talking about, but you’ll work it out early on.

While the first half of the book was slow, the second half picked up considerably. Not only did events start moving forward, but they gradually took on a darker tone, including going so far as to include violence against children. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The final few chapters were nail-biting and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. If only the first half of this book were as epic as the final third!

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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