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.
Review by Tanaya Lowden
It seems like one of the cool new trends in YA fiction these days is for fantasy stories set in the desert. I’ve read quite a few of them, and have enjoyed them all immensely, so I had a pretty good idea going into Reign the Earth that this would be right up my alley. What I didn’t know going into this book however, is just how much I would end up loving it.
Reign the Earth is a truly wonderful story. Whilst I’m not sure if this is completely suitable for all YA readers – the younger end of the YA spectrum may struggle with the dark and confronting themes – I definitely think this has the potential to be a big hit.
Reign the Earth follows Shalia, a daughter of the desert who has agreed to marry Calix, the King of the adjoining kingdom, in order to bring peace and freedom from the war their people have been fighting. Soon, Shalia learns that Calix is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. When her growing feelings towards her husband’s brother unleashes a power over the Earth she never knew she possessed, her whole world is in danger, and the peace she’s tried so hard to keep is at risk.
As I mentioned, this book has some dark themes. The relationship between Shalia and Calix is quite abusive, and very confronting. Calix is a power-hungry ruler and easily keeps others in their rightful places. Whilst his behaviour is sometimes difficult to read, it is monumental in Shalia’s empowering character development.
Whilst all the characters in Reign the Earth are complex and detailed, Shalia by far was the star of this novel. She has a caring and gentle demeanor, but is also fierce and brave, and she really goes on one hell of a ride filled with the best and worst emotions. What I wasn’t expecting was for her to have such a stance on feminism, but I really enjoyed seeing her stand up to her abusive husband and to question and champion the role of women in this world. It was something new brought to the YA desert trend, and one that paid off well.
Perhaps the major standout of this novel is the relationships the characters have with one another. A strong sense of family is evident throughout the story, and all the fun dynamics between the range of characters really added to my enjoyment of the book. In particular, the slow burn romance between Shalia and her husband’s brother, Galen, had me ripe with anticipation. I had forgotten how lovely a slow romance could be in a genre that has taken a particular liking to insta-love relationships.
This book really had me on the edge of my seat, particularly in the last 100 pages. I felt a whole range of emotions, from excitement to devastation, frustration to happiness, and this to me is the sign of a good book – one that can make you feel something.
The only complaint I have about Reign the Earth is that I want so much more of this story now! I need to know what will happen next, and the long wait to the sequel will be incredibly arduous. Perfect for fans of Rebel of the Sands and The Wrath and the Dawn, Reign the Earth is a YA read you didn’t realise was missing from your life.
“With a clever, strong-willed heroine, a downright terrifying villain, and complex relationships that leap off the page, Reign the Earth is the feminist fantasy I didn't know I needed. I will be thinking about Shalia's strength and fearlessness (and swooning over the slow-burn romance) as I anxiously await book two!”
Erin Bowman, author of Vengeance Road