Series: The Elementae #1
Written by: A.C. Gaughen
Published: January 30, 2018 by Bloomsbury
Synopsis: 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.
*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***
I really enjoyed the Scarlet trilogy so I was incredibly excited that she was coming out with a new book, especially one that is a YA fantasy with a world based on elemental magic. And I was not at all disappointed by this book. It was a fantastic read with great characters and an amazing world.
I honestly think that my favorite thing about this book was the characters. A.C. Gaughen really knows how to develop complex and likable characters. This book proved that even more. Our main character Shalia was so easy to root for and want to succeed. For one thing I really loved how kind and caring Shalia was. She is the kind of person that you want in powers. She sticks up for those less fortunate and wants to do what's best for her people. She is also tough and resilient despite everything that she had been through, which was a lot. There was an incredibly vicious antagonist here who I absolutely despised. But that was just another example of how A.C. Gaughen does characterization so well. Seriously, the characters just jump off the page and made this book so enjoyable.
The real great thing about the characters and heart of this book was in its relationships, both positive and negative. As far as the good relationships go, so much of this book had to do with family and the power of family. I really loved the way that Shalia and her family interacted. You can tell they loved each other so much. In fact I think my favorite character may have been Shalia's brother Kairos. Kai was amazing and such a great brother. He was protective but supportive. Then you had Calix's family which was such an interesting dynamic. The way they interacted was so different. But his sister Danae was super interesting and so was his brother Galen. The two brothers couldn't be more different, most shown by the way they treated Shalia. Calix was abusive and aggressive. And when I say abusive, I mean it. They did not shy away from the physical and emotional abuse. But Galen, by contrast, was kind and gentle. I didn't really ship it but I can see people who are more into romance would. But either way, the best part of this book was definitely the characters and their relationships.
The other really fantastic thing about this book was the world. I used to not really love elemental magic because it always reminded me of Avatar: The Last Airbender. But maybe I stopped caring about that or maybe books have just been leaning into that comparison because these days I love when books remind me of that, and this book definitely did. The magical system was based on elemental magic and in the book we got to see people using the power of water, earth, and a little fire. I really appreciated this too because it was a magical system that had clear rules and even a history to it. We didn't learn too much about it but Gaughen did a good job of showing the reader the world and not telling them about it. I'm excited to learn more in later books.
As far as the plot I definitely did enjoy it, but I feel like this is a book that just didn't have much of a plot. I'd say that it is probably much more character-driven than plot driven. There was plenty of tension and the booked moved along in a consistent and interesting way but it was less about reaching for a specific goal and more about the characters and their decisions affecting what happened. I'm not usually a big fan of character-driven narratives but I really loved the characters here and so it made it all worthwhile.
I really loved this book. It had amazing characters with great relationships, an engaging world with a great magical system, and a character-driven plot that kept me interested from beginning to end. This is a great start to a series I am really excited to see develop.
I give Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen 9.5 out of 10 stars
Have you read Reign the Earth? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!