In an exciting deal for a debut author, Michael B. Jordan and Warner Bros. have just acquired Kingdom of Souls, the first installment of a fantasy novel trilogy by Rena Barron, in which a young woman must give up her own life, bit by bit, in a magical bargain to save her village–and the world. Outlier Society’s Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo are producing with Pouya Shahbazian. Misan Sagay is attached to write the screenplay.
Lush worldbuilding and compelling characters garner Kingdom of Souls comparisons to Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, and splashy adaptation deals for these and others suggest a wave of YA fantasy is upon us. Like Adeyemi, Barron spins a darkly magical tale that was blends tales of folk magic, voodoo, and Orisha from her own community. Kingdom of Souls centers on Arrah, a young woman born into a family of powerful witchdoctors and she yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval. When children begin disappearing, including a boy she’d befriended, Arrah is desperate to find the culprit. She tries a deadly last resort to cast the spell that will find the children: she trades years of her own life for scraps of magic. But she uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.
Barron grew up in small-town Alabama, where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. Before HarperTeen acquired her young adult epic fantasy, Barron spent 10 years writing across multiple genres and age groups in the pursuit of publication. In 2017, she entered Pitch Wars, a popular and highly sought-after online mentorship program that included an agent showcase round. Barron’s entry (then titled “The Last Witchdoctor”) received more requests than any novel in Pitch Wars history. In addition to the Kingdom of Souls trilogy, Barron also has written a middle grade series. The first book titled Maya and The Rising Dark debuts in May 2020.