Published September 13, 2022
About Reign Returned
Kyra Valorian is the most gifted Astral healer the golden-blooded realm of Aeles has seen in ages. When tragedy strikes, Kyra discovers she possesses a life-changing gift: she’s a Recovrancer, able to enter the realm of the dead and recover those who’ve died before their time. Unfortunately, recovrancy is outlawed in her realm. Desperate for answers, Kyra will do anything to get them . . . even partner with a dangerous enemy.
Sebastian Sayre is the most sought-after Daeval assassin in all of Nocens. A silver-blooded Pyromancer, he wields fire and dreams of finding Rhannu, a legendary sword that makes its holder invincible. Since the sword was long ago stolen from Nocens and hidden where no Daeval can retrieve it, however, such a dream seems impossible . . . until he encounters the one Astral who might be both able and willing to help him.
As Kyra and Sebastian work together to uncover the secrets of their realms, they also uncover secrets within their own pasts–pasts that are far more intertwined than they ever imagined. Ultimately, in this tale of discovery, destiny, and a love strong enough to outlast time, remembering the past just may prove to be the only way to change the future.
I have some mixed feelings about this book.
The thing that drew me to REIGN RETURNED was the enemies to lovers trope, which I love. I also love the fact that Kyra and Sebastian have this shared secret history they’re rediscovering. That was more than enough to make me want to read the book.
I don’t know if I’ve gotten spoiled by contemporary books or if this would have always been my preference, but I am discovering that I tend to like books with shorter paragraphs and at least some shorter sentences. REIGN RETURNED has longer paragraphs and most of the sentences are long, even in the action scenes. I think that’s a recognized fantasy style, so I’m not saying it’s wrong or badly written. Just that it’s not my preferred style, so that was a bit of a challenge for me as a reader.
I liked Kyra’s character a lot. Her loyalty to her family and her consistent desire to help others definitely won me over and kept me rooting for her. Sebastian was a bit of a harder sell.
The cover copy describes Sebastian as an assassin, and he calls himself that in the book. I think I expected something more along the lines of GRACELING or THRONE OF GLASS. In both of those I believe assassination is kind of the role the character was thrust into or where they are ordered by law to take out certain enemies.
Sebastian works for two powerful merchants who are maybe more like mob bosses? They use Sebastian to punish their enemies, usually people who’ve stolen from them. In one scene, Sebastian murders the wife of the offender because, as he puts it, he’s learned that’s more effective in making people regret their choices. He’s pretty cold-blooded.
In that same scene, after he has murdered a woman in her kitchen, he sees a kitten on the floor and worries that it hasn’t been fed yet and might be hungry. That seemed strange to me– to be heartless one minute and then, “Oooh, kitty!”
There’s some backstory that reveals his own past trauma which impacts our view of his behavior as an assassin. I felt like no one addresses that behavior satisfactorily in the book. Kyra doesn’t like what he does, but she kind of just shrugs and moves past it because she promised to help him.
That was probably the hardest part of the book for me to get past. I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if Sebastian had come to feel some guilt or remorse for what he’d done, especially to potentially innocent people.
Aside from that, I thought the story world was interesting and unique. I liked the idea that these two kingdoms believe they’ve always been separate, but their true shared history has been hidden from them. I loved Laycus, who ferries someone’s spirit to the afterlife. He was a great minor character. I hope that he has more involvement in the next book.
On the whole, I think readers who enjoy enemies to lovers stories and descriptive fantasy should check this one out.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Kyra is described as having brown skin. Sebastian is blonde. There are minor characters in same-gender relationships.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Kissing between boy and girl.
Kyra has the ability to visit the place where someone’s spirit goes before they journey to the afterlife. If a person dies before their time, she can bring them back to life. Other characters have individual magical abilities. Kyra can also heal. Sebastian is able to create portals and fire.
Situations of peril. In one scene, someone dies in an earthquake. References to torture. Several scenes show or reference Sebastian murdering someone.
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