Arnaka Skytree grew up believing she was chosen to bring new magic to the world. As the heir to the cult of druids responsible for keeping their floating palace habitable for the wealthy aristocracy, she’s expected to wield her power as those before her did: by culling the souls of peasant women.
But when Arnaka learns more about the source of her magic, and that her best friend’s soul will be harvested, she embarks on a journey to end the barbarous practice and to restore a long-forgotten harmonious system of magic practiced by the original druids. Along the way, she discovers she’s not the only girl chosen to restore balance to their world—many others have powerful magic inside, and with them, she will tear the floating palace from the sky so everyone can live in the sun—out of the shadow of the eclipse.
I did enjoy The Soulstealers, but there were some points that I didn’t like or love, so I ended up giving it a 3 out of 5 stars. I’ll start with what I did love about this book.
The thing I loved the most about The Soulstealers was the diversity in this book. I believe all of our characters are POC. Which is something you don’t read a lot in YA fantasy. Next to that there were also a couple of LGBTQ+ characters. Our main character Arnaka is bisexual, her love interest is lesbian and another antagonist is asexual. Next to that there was also a mention of a plus sized character. The way the book talked about these characters was just lovely. They didn’t have to do a big coming out and could just talk about their sexuality with each other and seemed so normal and natural. That was definitely such a big plus point for me.
The magic system in this book is very original and not like anything I’ve read before. There were different types of magic, but they all seemed a bit alike, so sometimes it was hard to know the differences between the types. The soulstealer magic was definitely the most interesting one, especially because it’s actually quite evil magic.
The world building of this book was good as well. It was also an original world, not a lot like something I had read before, so that was definitely also a good point for the book.
I also really liked the first couple of chapters and the last two chapters. Those were to me the best written chapters. Overall this book was written well for sure. But I did have some issues here and there with the writing. The writing style itself was good, but the chapters in the middle were a bit weird I guess.
The book is divided in different parts and in the first part we had a lot of flashback chapters. Those were mainly chapters about Arnaka’s youth. Those chapters were definitely necessary and important, but a bit too much in my opinion. It felt like there were more past chapters than present chapters. I don’t really know how that could have been solved, but it needed some work in my opinion.
My ultimate biggest ‘issue’ with The Soulstealers was that our main character Arnaka didn’t really do a lot herself. This book is very action packed, but Arnaka doesn’t really participate in that action a lot. It felt like everything just happened around her and she was always lucky to have other people save her ass. In my opinion a main character in a book has to participate in the action and kind of be the problem solver. But Arnaka wasn’t those things at all, there were always other characters who did that for her.
The enemies to lovers trope is a part of this book. I have to admit that that’s not a trope I usually enjoy. It has to be done so well and believable for me to enjoy that part of a book. I’m not saying that this trope was necessarily done bad, it just wasn’t good enough for me. It felt a bit too rushed and a bit too sudden. Everything was suddenly fine between the two lovers, without really an explanation of why they weren’t enemies anymore, or why they stopped disliking each other.
Now on a more positive note: my favourite characters. I had two favourite characters and those were Nara and Hannah. We didn’t really read a lot about Hannah. She was in most of the past chapters. I don’t really know why I liked her so much, but she just really spoke to me. I guess it’s because she did take actions and was active in the chapters she appeared in and not passive like Arnaka. Same goes for Nara, she did the most ass saving and I liker her for that. But she did annoy me a bit at the beginning of the book. But I guess that’s called character development!
Character development was something the author did very will in this book. Arnaka’s character development was probably the best one in the book. But in the end all the characters were a different person than they were at the beginning of the book. The development felt natural and not forced at all, which is great.
Overall I would recommend this book if you’re into YA fantasy, or you’re just starting out with reading YA fantasy or you really like diverse books.
I received an e-arc of this book through Book Sirens for free, but that doesn’t affect my opinion.