Blog Tour: King of the Rising – Kacen Callender (Dec 1, 2020) + Giveaway

King of the RIsing book tour header with an image of the cover.

Today is my stop on the King of the Rising tour with Caffeine Book Tours. King of the Rising by Kacen Callender is the highly anticipated sequel to Queen of the Conquered in the Islands of Blood and Storm duology, and is out today, December 1st. You can purchase it here from Indiebound, Bookbound, or your favorite book retailer!

Content warnings for series (may be incomplete, may contain spoilers): Please highlight below to view.

Graphic descriptions of violence, injury, and death, slavery, racism, murder (including of children), war, blood, use of weapons, manipulation, betrayal, death, suicide and suicidal ideation, mind control, lynching, abuse, torture, rape/sexual assault, death of family members.

Creative Feature: Cover Art Appreciation

The gorgeous covers of the Islands of Blood and Storm series are created by Lisa Marie Pompilio. Covers are such an integral part of a book’s identity and especially in a visual world like bookstagram, their aesthetics are especially important. Unfortunately, many artists and designers are left out of the spotlight and when we praise a beautiful cover, we often don’t know who created it, so today, I’d love to highlight Pompilio’s works. I love how eye catching these designs are!

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece
The World Gives Way by Marissa Levien

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a total cover. buyer and they were what first drew me to the series. I’ve read some of Callender’s other works (Felix Ever After, This is Kind of an Epic Love Story) and was familiar with their writing, but the stark contrast in these covers compared to the bright, welcoming colors of the other two covers intrigued me. I love the opposition between Queen of the Conquered and King of the Rising, from the black and white backgrounds, to the snakes and their poses, to the flowers. I love that the facial features are mostly obstructed behind the snakes, lending a sense of mystery to the image.

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender
King of the Rising by Kacen Callender

For my bookstagram photo featuring this book, I wanted to work off of the color scheme of the cover, highlighting the golds and adding a little magic with some gorgeous glitter candles. While these yellow flowers I typically use as props are not lilies, they’ve got a similar shape!

Book Review: King of the Rising

***Please be aware of mild spoilers for the first book below! I will do my best to be vague when possible. This book is the sequel and intended to be read after Queen of the Conquered.***

King of the Rising picks up after the fall of the island and is told from Løren’s point of view, Sigourney’s captor and ex-bodyguard, as the resistance begins to build. Where Sigourney is prideful and hate-fueled, Løren is idealistic and sympathetic. His powers act as a mirror, feeding off of the kraft of others, which allows him a special connection to he, and the book opens with him sparing her life, a decision that continues to spiral through the rest of the book.

“How can we claim to be different from Sigourney Rose? How can we claim to be different from the kongelig, or any of the Fjern, if we torture and kill without mercy, just as they’ve done to us?”
“We aren’t claiming to be different,” Malthe tells me. “We’re only claiming our freedom.”

Callender’s writing is, as always, wonderfully descriptive and sharp. I’ve read a few of Callender’s other books, but this series is completely unlike the joyful celebration in Felix Ever After (but also, what a RANGE!), and instead leaves you with a dark, gritty feeling that packs such a punch in their first adult novels. The pacing leaves a bit to be desired, as there is a lot of introspection that does drag on at times (which was my biggest gripe with the first book), but it offers the reader a clear view into the characters’ minds and motivations, and leaves a lot of room for pondering. Both Sigourney and Løren are deeply flawed and painful characters who believe deeply in what they’re doing, and Callender fleshes them both out beautifully.

“Do you believe that the Fjern should be in power, then?” She asked. “Do you believe your only purpose in life should be to serve them?”
“No,” he told her. “We were meant to have our freedom. The Fjern stole that from us.”

The ending left me speechless, and is something I’ll probably have to ruminate on for a while. Compared to the first book, I felt that this was slower and more focused on the politics of the uprising, which really makes you think. This is not a fairy tale. It is brutal and cruel and uncomfortable, but also brilliant and fierce. Ultimately, they are both tragedies, and Callender notes that they are intended to spark conversation, saying “While Queen of the Conquered was a reflection on assimilation, asking questions about what it means to be oppressed while seeking power and privilege, King of the Rising asks what it will take to begin again, and whether we need to burn everything to the ground.”

Enjoyment: 3.5/5
Execution: 4/5
Final Rating: 3.75/5

Through this tour, I received an ARC from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Orbit books is giving away a set of finished books to one lucky winner! Please enter on Rafflecopter. Giveaway is open to North America only and runs through December 10, 2020.

If you enjoyed my review, please check out the other tour stops here, where you can find other reviews, moodboards, graphics, booktube videos, and more! And if you’re planning on reading this book/have read this, I’d love to know what you thought. You can drop me a comment below or find me on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads). Have a good week!

With love, Pei

About the Author

Kacen Callender was born two days after a hurricane and was first brought home to a house without its roof. After spending their first eighteen years on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, Kacen studied Japanese, Fine Arts, and Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received their MFA from the New School. Kacen is the author of the middle grade novel Hurricane Child and the young adult novel This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story.

2 thoughts on “Blog Tour: King of the Rising – Kacen Callender (Dec 1, 2020) + Giveaway

  1. Thanks for the review, I’m kinda undecided about this one after I wasn’t very into the first book, but the change in PoV is a strong point in its favor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I wasn’t the hugest fan of Sigourney in the first book. Too much introspection and flashbacking haha. I think given the circumstances of the second book, it’s a much more provoking read!


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