Anyone who tried to take this city from her would soon discover that the Kestrel’s daughter had talons of her own.A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, Roseanne A. Brown
Title: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Author: Roseanne A. Brown
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Fantasy, romance
Age Range: YA
Trigger warnings: death, violence, self harm, panic attacks, anxiety
Synopsis: For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?
My AO3 tags A Song of Wraiths and Ruin: enemies to lovers, SLOW slow burn, yes they start off trying to kill each other but don’t worry its ok, angst angst angst, idiots to lovers, prestigious and magical jock competition
Sorry, did you need more reasons to pick up a copy?? In case you do, I’m happy to oblige!
5 Reasons to Read A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
1. Say it with me y’all: COMPLEX CHARACTERS >>>> Karina has got to be one of my new favorite characters of all time. She is beautifully flawed and complex and throughout the entire book, all I wanted was for her to be okay. One of the things I appreciated the most about Karina as a character was the fact that she is extremely self-assured and confident in some areas of her life, and there are others where she is deeply insecure. She’s self-aware in a way that I think is rare in YA novels where characters are coming into their own, and recognizes her own flaws even as she weaponizes them to achieve her goals. Karina struggles with knowing and loving who she is as an individual and applying that to her own anxieties that she will never escape from the shadows of her mother and sister. She gets knocked down time and time again, but she never fails to get back up, and you can’t help but root for her.
2. Rich world-building that immediately grips you and refuses to let go. Much like Malik, Rosie is a master storyteller capable of entrancing you and making the mystical beings in her book come to life. For anyone looking to move past a certain popular method of sorting yourself into a group with known traits and tendencies, I highly recommend checking out which alignment and patron god you fall under based on the day you were born. (I’m personally Life aligned and my patron deity is Adanko the hare – just like Malik!) I think fans of astrology and all things magical will immediately fall in love with the lore that shapes A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. The world-building is easy to follow and embeds the beauty and diversity of African cultures to transport you right to the heart of Ziran.
3. Nothing – and no one – is what they seem. This will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but I adore good court intrigue and politics in fantasy books, and this was no exception. After her mother’s death, Karina uncovers a conspiracy that might be rooted in her very own council, which has taken over running Ziran until Karina is officially coronated sultana. While the Champions competing in Solstasia go through their tasks, Karina is participating in challenges of her own. Karina realizes that she can trust no one but herself, and that is a challenge in and of itself. Along with the near impossible task of resurrecting her mother, Karina must also push back against the council and assert her authority, all while trying to figure out which one of them is the traitor. I….love plots like these. They are my kryptonite. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin combines the best of magical fantasy with political drama and completely knocked me off my feet.
4. A dynamic cast of characters with unbelievable chemistry. While I was definitely the most attached to Karina, I loved all of the characters that Rosie creates. Malik is an absolute sweetheart who just needs his family to be okay, and all I wanted to do was wrap this poor baby up in a blanket and tuck him away from everything bad, which made his eventual triumphs all the more victorious. His relationship with Leila is one of the more relatable representations of a sibling dynamic that I’ve ever read, and while their strengths lie in different areas, the bond between them is unflinchingly strong. I also found myself unexpectedly rooting for and growing attached to some of the more minor characters, and I can’t wait to learn more about some of their backstories in the sequel.
5. The maze of plot twists and deception. I saw a couple of non-spoilery reviews prior to starting the book that alerted me to the presence of some major plot twists, so I was on high alert from the very beginning. I did manage to guess a few, but there were still some surprises that I did not see coming. I was so immersed in the story that I was gasping and cheering and whispering oh shit oh shit oh shit at 3 in the morning because I had to know what happened next. I usually favor character driven stories more than plot driven ones, but I genuinely think that A Song of Wraiths and Ruin gives you the best of both worlds. While the plot twists and devices work really well on their own, I think they’re given an extra oomph because of how invested you inevitably get in the characters themselves. Nothing hits harder than your fave coming out on top of the seemingly impossible, and it’s even better when your TWO faves do it together. Absolutely chef’s kiss.
There was an outpouring of support for Rosie during her debut, which was extremely well-deserved, and I just want to end this post with a reminder to everyone that that is how we need to be showing up for Black authors all the time. Keep learning and growing and pushing for change. On that note, I absolutely adored A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, and I cannot WAIT to read about Malik’s Bet on It arc in the sequel.
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