Hello Humans! I am inching ever closer to finishing my TBR – it will happen I am determined! One of the most recent books I purchased was a gorgeous copy of Roseanne A. Brown’s A Song of Wraiths and Ruin which got me excited not only because it sounded like a fun YA time, but also seemed like it might feature death and magic in some way and it came highly recommended by Justine – I mean it doesn’t get much better than that!
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The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.
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?
I have to say I really enjoyed reading this book, I thought that everything from the setting to the characters to the plot to the…cover design – ALL OF IT – it was all so much fun. It’s exactly what I like in YA and I would absolutely recommend this to all the YA lovers out there who haven’t yet picked this up.
As usual, I’ll make the disclaimer that I am a white woman and as such there will be aspects of this book that I may not have picked up on – seek out own voices reviews alongside this one! But I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to bring this book to your attention.
This book is dual POV, we have the perspectives of Malik, the poor boy trying to carve out a place of safety for his family, and Karina, the princess who has to take on more responsibility than she had ever imagined. Normally in books like this I would gravitate towards one character and just be mildly annoyed at the other (usually the male character because I am predictable) but in this case I found both narratives to be really compelling. I liked the way this structure gives the two sides of the story, and it’s one of the few times where getting to see POV characters through the eyes of another character actually works and doesn’t feel…gratuitous. You get that sense of dramatic irony, knowing that while Karina may think one thing is happening Malik is in fact working towards a different goal and so on. That’s something I adore in fiction, mostly because I like to know more than the characters do. What I thought worked well in this story was the fact that the story went beyond these two characters and the plot that emerges between them. In similar YA narratives the entire story centres around that relationship and it can get predictable and annoying, instead this feels like two stories that connect as part of a much wider narrative.
What I’m trying to get at here is that this book goes beyond the usual tropes I might associate with a dual POV book set up in this way.
This setting was wonderful, the different cultures, the city itself, the magic, all of the details were there without feeling like worldbuilding was being thrown at you. Some of my favourite aspects were the moments of storytelling within the story – because I am always here for an exploration of oral history – there are sung stories, stories that get told to crowds, stories in the narrative – so many stories it is a wonderful time.
If you enjoy YA I would definitely suggest you pick up a copy of this book, it is familiar and tropey while still retaining a uniqueness that makes it feel fresh and interesting. You’ll fall head over heels for Karina – who is one of my favourite YA heroines of all time – and you’ll then have to join me impatiently waiting for the next book!
My rating: 4/5 stars
I bought this book myself, all opinions are my own.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is out now!
What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know in the comments below!