Title: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Author: Roseanne A. Brown
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Review Copy: Purchased
Availability: Available Now
Summary: 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?
Review: Since quarantine began I have been on a fantasy kick as it helps me escape from the every day nonsense and stress from life. That so many fantasy stories featuring Black girls has been a huge plus for me. I’ve enjoyed re-reading old fantasy, like The Belles, and loving the new fantasy coming out. Roseanne A. Brown’s “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin” is another book, well series, that has been added to my list.
The novel is told in dual perspectives of Karina and Malik, which I always love, so we are able to really get into each of the character’s heads. I feel in love with Malik early on because he is such a sensitive soul who loves his sisters, is willing to help others sometimes to his detriment, and my heart broke for him when he was put in the impossible situation of having to kill Karina. I knew it would break his soul for him to complete his task, but he was doing to save his sister. The courage he has…whew. On the flip side, I initially didn’t like Karina as she was a bit of a brat but as the story continued on, her actions were really a front to the low self-esteem and guilt she carried. I really began to feel for her too as, just like Malik, she was put in an impossible situation and was making the best decisions she could even though it would cost her soul. And for me, that is really what drove the tension of this novel and kept me reading. Malik and Karina are broken people in very similar ways, but they manifest their wounds differently and it is ultimately what brings them together. They unknowingly balance each other out and this is what makes their “romance” feel true, but also has them heading toward disaster. I wanted them to win but didn’t know how in the world they would get there.
This novel also has a mother of a plot twist that I did not see coming and I loved it for it. I’m a sucker for a good plot twist that is not telegraphed in any way that makes the reader shout “WHAT!” when it happens. This one was a doozy and I wondered how Malik and Karina were going to get out of this new problem. The plot twist actually sets up the premise for the second book and I am here for it. I wish I had it now.
I really enjoyed “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin”, as the world building was exceptionally done and all the characters were really well written. Roseanne Brown also put a trigger warning at the beginning which was a first for me for any novel, as she does not hold back on the ugliness in this world and I appreciated her for it. This realness is what brought the novel alive and made me greatly enjoy the book.