Kingdom of Souls
See also the World Guide for Definitions
Content Warning: The story includes blood magic, an intentional infliction of self-injury in a ritual, challenging familial relationships, death of a child, death in battle scenes, mention of animal sacrifice (not on page), animal possession, mind manipulation, and an act of a sexual nature that occurs when a character tricks another character while disguising their appearance.
READING BOOKS FROM UNDERREPRESENTED POPULATIONS
- How might our perceptions of storytelling impact how we read and discuss books by underrepresented populations?
- What preconceptions might we have when starting a book that does not follow what we believe to be the keys to good storytelling?
- How do we determine what is “good” storytelling while considering limited representation from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) creators and how that has shaped our perceptions?
- Is storytelling universal? What might be the commonalities and the differences in stories written by authors from different backgrounds?
- How do we objectively read books by BIPOC authors while actively acknowledging and challenging the discomfort of our own biases?
- What might be the dangers of a single narrative, whether that be stories primarily told from one group of people or stories that give a singular, limited perspective of an underrepresented population?
- Magic comes at a price if you’re willing to pay. Our protagonist, Arrah, discovers at a very young age that magic is a form of power and prestige. How might that information influence someone’s perspective at a young age as opposed to hearing it as an adult?
- Arrah hails from a family of powerful witchdoctors, yet she doesn’t have magic of her own. Her mother shows disappointment in her lack of abilities. How does that influence Arrah’s decisions through the book?
- Arrah experiences bigotry in an early chapter of the book due to her lack of magical abilities. Later, she experiences bigotry from a group of people who fear magic. What might be the motivation behind both reactions to magic, considering that magic is quite rare in the larger Kingdom of Souls world?
- In Kingdom of Souls, magic is neither bad nor good. How might we relate this to how we view ideas of morality. For example, dark/black is often associated with bad, evil, or undesirable, while light/white is associated with good, pureness, and virtue. How might ideas like these influence how we view magic, people, and cultures?
- The interludes between chapters from the orishas’ perspective offer glimpses into the history of the world. How might this storytelling structure impact your understanding of the world?
- Many new or unfamiliar terms are introduced in the book. How might we consider how we interact, interpret, and respond to aspects of another culture that do not reinforce our own sense of self or beliefs?
- At the end of PART I, Arrah faces a betrayal. What clues hint at this turn of events?
- What secrets do Arrah learn in the opening chapters of PART II, and how do they impact her perception of what she knows about the people around her?
- How do politics play a role in what transpires through the book?
- Arrah faces two losses in PART II. How do they change the trajectory of her decisions as she struggles to stop the culprit behind the children’s disappearances in the Kingdom?
- Arrah gets her first taste of real magic from a symbol of a snake carved into her chest. How does she grabble with this newfound power?
- Why might some of the people in the story support the Demon King over the orishas?
- At the end of PART II, a new foe is introduced into the story. How might this twist complicate things for Arrah?
- In Kefu, time moves at a whim, independent of the rest of the world. How does this impact the narrative arc of the story?
- Arrah faces a dilemma with Efiya and endures conflicting feelings about her next course of action. How might she have handled the situation differently?
- Efiya is a character who is unpredictable and callous. What might be the purpose of a character like her, a child born a monster, and what does she represent in the larger story?
- Kingdom of Souls has complex villains who believe that their actions are justifiable. Taking this idea a step further, how do we determine if something is just if justice is in the hands of people who hold power, such as the antagonists in the story.
- When Arrah returns to Tamar and finds the city devastated, how does that parallel the troubles in her own life?
- There are many spoken and unspoken signs of trauma throughout the story. How have those traumas shaped and influenced the actions of the characters? How could the characters have done things differently? Do we hold some traumas as more important/relevant over others in our lives? How does that speak to our personal values?
- Arrah comes to terms with her own failings throughout the story. How does that set the stage for book two, Reaper of Souls?