Second Hand Pages

Escape, Politics and Love: Song of the Dead Book Review

As many people who follow any of my social medias know, I adore Sarah Glenn Marsh and Reign of Fallen. I was HUGELY skeptical when I read the first novel, as I really didn’t understand why anyone would think it was OK to move from a brother to a sister in bed — but I read it anyways. After I finished it, I was blown away. After I found how Sarah was an incredibly sweet human being, I was even more blown away.

I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite duologies EVER., and here’s why..

“I am Odessa of Grenwyr,”

“And I bow to no man.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Authors: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Format/Source: ARC (*not provided by publisher)
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon, Book Depository

From GoodReads: Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom’s borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia’s waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task.

Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can’t help being mesmerized by the new magic–and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once.

Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria’s mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won’t be enough to save their fates.
In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before.

“You are my heart, Odessa…”

Here’s what I think….

Odessa is real. This is one of my favorite parts of the novel. In Reign of the Fallen Odessa coped with overcoming an addiction, the loss of a love, and her kingdom she loves so much being torn apart. Marsh’s character depth is incredible. Not only do we get a brilliant heroine that we desperately need, but a girl that we can relate to on so many levels. So often throughout the novel she questions herself when everyone around her adamantly believes in everything she is – even when Odessa is completely unsure of herself, she still screams self assured and confidence, something I’m extremely jealous of.

Outside of Odessa, the magic just continued to spread. While the first novel was completely focused on the Dead, the second novel barely touches on them. Instead, this novel takes a completely different course – and it works.

RotF‘s world was entirely based in Karthia. Now, with the death of the king and the ability to explore the world beyond their borders, Marsh created a vastly different world, yet still brilliantly detailed and beautiful. Each country they visit is carefully crafted with their own laws, culture, views of the dead and necromancy in general.

The real world issues that are tackled hit home and pull at heartstrings that I sometimes pretend I don’t have. When you read for escape and suddenly see a horrid bully – it hits somewhere deep, in a well that never fully heals, and pulls my in even further. This for me is proof of a stunning writer.

If world building isn’t your thing – and really, who doesn’t love beautiful worlds? – than the characters will keep you engaged. While Odessa is the best ‘own voices’ bisexual heroine I’ve ever read, the cast of supporting characters are easily my favorite part of the entire duo. While we only hear the story from Odessa’s view, the characters are incredibly realistic, their habits and attitudes true to life, not just characters who are there to propel the MC forward. Each character has flaws, butt heads with Odessa and could easily stand alone. We meet a few new characters in the book, and instead of convoluting the story more, they add to the complexity and beauty of the world we are immersed in.

My favorite newest character is without a doubt, Nipper the dragon. YES DRAGONS! What could possibly make Odessa’s world better? AWESOME PET DRAGONS! These dragons are loved, cared for and treated well in her world, and that made me love the little pink shit even more. I loved how Marsh added many canine characteristics in Nipper, making her even more endearing. The additional mages are also an interesting addition, layering onto the magical system that already existed.

A love story for those that have lost. I really felt like this was true. Learning to accept the love that you need, the love that you deserve, is an incredibly hard thing to learn as a broken person. It was a beautiful arc to watch Odessa go from someone who was afraid of the love blossoming to someone who embraced it and fought for it. I will admit that initially, I was a Valoria/Meredy girl – I just couldn’t see Odessa’s personality with Meredy’s. However, through out the book, I could see how well they meshed together. Sometimes, the people you least expect are the people who mend your heart.

I could continue to rave about this novel for pages, but instead — I urge you to go read the novel. There are twists, especially towards the middle – that will drop your jaw. There is hope, love, betrayal. Each character, each story line brought me to tears, to laughter, to love at some point.

The emotions were raw, the truth was real – and the story was home.

tl:dr

I found that Reign of the Fallen was a beautiful tale of learning to cope with losing someone you loved. Similarly, Song of the Dead, at it’s core, allowed the reader to explore love after loss, learning to face your fears – instead of running from them, and the price of staying true to your heart, yourself and your friends. This conclusion to Odessa’s story is heartbreaking, heartwarming and thrilling. I give it 10/5 stars.
Read. It. Now.


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