Review #172

Title- A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

Author- Roseanne A. Brown

Series– the sequel is A Psalm of Storms and Silence

Rating– 4.8/5

Genre- YA fantasy

POV- third person, dual POV

Trope- coming of age, magic, enemies to (we shall see), I came to kill you & developed feelings

Steam level- 1/5

Cover– I wasn’t sure what a wraith was the title confused me a little

Comps– Dance of Thieves, The City of Brass


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 his younger sister, Nadia, as payment to enter 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 heart-pounding 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?

First chapter-

Malik and his sisters are traveling as refugees to a new city. Within the crowds, there’s m contagious energy about the Solstasia competition and how the champions will get to stay in the palace. So far we’re learning about Malik’s bonds with his sisters, their goals to blend in, and the unexpected obstacle of someone stealing their stuff!

Karina is an impulsive, musician who also happens to be the princess. She longs to be free of her Royal responsibilities and leave the city for good. She’s a challenger who doesn’t back down from a dare, yet fears her own mother, the sultana

Character Development- These characters were much more developed than most YA or even adult books I read. They had so much depth which I really appreciated. The only reason why it wasn’t five stars was because I needed more time to feel like Malik and Karina are a good match together. That’s what the sequel is for.

Best part- The challenges were great. Oh, and the storytelling mastermind of this author.

What I would change (spoiler)- Everyone “escaped” death in the same way lol

Quote- “The people we lose never truly leave, but only we get to define how they stay.

Quote- “To aid even one person is to save an entire world… do not underestimate the strength it takes to be kind in a world as cruel as ours.”

Setting- Gave me an Aladdin vibe at times and “Ember in the Ashes” vibe as well for the location

Prose- above average.

Character goals/motivations- Malik wanted to save his sister Nadia. Karina wanted to bring back her mother from the dead.

Theme- accepting one’s magic/moving on from the past/forgiving self/finding one’s confidence

Vivid sensory descriptions- especially in the underground city of gold

Dialogue- average. The hyena was funny and stood out

Inclusivity- The main characters are Black. I’m unsure if the entire civilization (100%) of the characters are Black, but that’s how I viewed it. Except for in one traditional region, MM and FF relationships are typical and expected.

Ethics/morals- murder

Conflict/tension/obstacles- lots, a bit repetitive, but it was great.

Pacing- medium

Thoughts while reading-

Chapter 3- it looks like they’ll be switching back and forth between Malik and Karina. Malik seems to have some sort of shadow curse or mental disability with PTSD that creates hallucinations. Otherwise I think there’s elemental powers in this story which makes it a possible comp to my work in progress, the Linked Trilogy.

Page 60- trapped? That was unexpected but conflicts well with her goals.

Page 81- some of her words and thoughts are hard to settle into since the loss was a decade ago. 

Page 100- the characters are really well rounded with weaknesses and strengths. I don’t pity Malik to the point of thinking he’s annoying, because he shows real humanity in his struggles. Yet he isn’t the alpha hero who can never fail either. And I don’t view Karina as only a  trapped device to be used for politics and power because she also has the courage to fight back. They both are on a path of eventually seeing their value despite not bribing in themselves and their potential. This is a great balance 

Page 130- it’s weird that she refers to her mom as The Kestral or The Sultana

Page 144- aren’t some of the champions female? How would that work to “kill a king” if they win

Page 161- cheater lol. So far I can’t get a good grip on Malik’s age so I’m unsure how to perceive some of his decisions. Is he 14? 17? 20?

Page 183- I love that anxiety is shown here. I feel as if mental health disabilities are rarely shown unless it’s a contemporary novel, so this is refreshing and realistically shown 

Page 209- you know the book is good when there’s blood oaths, pacts, negotiations and bargains

Page 220- oh! More cryptic, confusing messages. Excellent 

Page 227- finally they meet! That took way too long.

Halfway- this book is so good, I love it and I hope it continues on this path. Both characters main have agency and feel realistic abs relatable. I like Malik’s story and point of view more than Karina’s overall but she’s growing on me a bit.

Page 249- awesome scene

Page 310- that seems like a bit of a stretch

Page 340- they say they make a good team, but they make a very odd couple. I can only see them as possible friends in the future so if it leads to romance I’m pretty iffy

Page 346- what? I’m confused on what happened? Maybe I’m reading too fast.

Page 357- awesome & creative chapter

Page 363- oh shit!

Page 400- oh double shit!

Page 410- oh no!!!!

Page 438- aaaaahhh!

Page 463- finally

Ending- Page 466- nuh, uh. He better not! 

Published by CassieSwindon

Fiction author

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