A.C. Gaughen’s Reign the Earth is beautifully nuanced YA fantasy

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A.C. Gaughen Reign the EarthREIGN THE EARTH, by A.C. Gaughen, Bloomsbury USA Childrens, Jan. 30, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)

I am not the biggest fantasy fan. I think it takes a special gift to transport readers to a completely different world. Luckily for me, that’s exactly what happens in A.C. Gaughen’s Reign the Earth.

Shalia is a daughter of the desert. She loves her land and loves her people. She loves them so much, she’s willing to give them up for something far greater — peace. Years of war with the neighboring kingdom have left their toll, and it’s time for reconciliation.

Shalia agrees to marry Calix, king of the Bone Lands, in exchange for harmony. But the Bone Lands are foreign. The laws of the land seem cruel, especially Calix’s ban on magic. And then there are the Elementae — those that can control earth, air, fire and water — who Calix believes are the worst sort of traitors.

Shalia enters this new land conflicted and carrying her own secrets. There’s more to Shalia, it appears, than meets the eye.

I finished Reign the Earth a few weeks before writing this review, and as I look back at the book, I find myself wanting to reread it again now. As I flip through sections, it jogs another memory, reinforcing how much I enjoyed the book in the first place.

Author A.C. Gaughen’s world building is beautiful. I felt myself walking through the sand next to Shalia as she made her way toward the Bone Lands and her awe at experiencing her new home for the first time. Shalia is a strong character facing difficult choices. Her world is nuanced and her actions equally so.

Bloomsbury’s suggest age for Reign the Earth is 14 and up, and I agree. As engrossing a read as it is, there are some adult situations here that younger readers may not yet be ready for. However, those situations are handled tastefully and with restraint.

Reign the Earth is the first book in The Elementae series, and I can’t wait for Book 2.

© 2018, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

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About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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