Monday, September 20, 2021

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin - Roseanne A. Brown

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?

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. (Summary and pic from

My Review: This book is joining my recent parade of reviews of fantasy books with beautiful covers featuring fierce looking Black women in gorgeous costume and regalia. Man, they are so fantastic and I am loving it. Check out Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones, Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer, and Bethan C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water for more stunning cover art.

Although this book is fantasy, it is based on West African culture and that made it super interesting. I always love a good mixing of reality and fantasy, with a good dose of myth and lore to tie it all in. As you might imagine, this book has gorgeous descriptions. The sounds, sights, and smells of this vibrant place were a fun part of the descriptions and the story. I especially loved that the story featured people coming in from different areas of the kingdom to participate in a festival. This gave the reader exposure to lots of different cultures and people within the novel's realm, and I always love that. Even within a relatively limited geographic area there is a lot of cultural depth and difference between the people in it.

This is an exciting story that has a lot of intrigue and mystery and takes a lot of twists and turns. Because of the festival and the tournament involved in the festival, there is a lot of action and excitement. A good tournament always makes for good reading, right? You never know what’s going to happen next or what the stakes might be!

As with any good YA novel worth its salt, this one has a love story that is complicated and romantic. This one has an especially triumphant ending, as one would desire from a fantastical book such as this. If your YA characters aren’t wondering if the other one hates them and totally confused about the situation, are you even reading YA?

Because this book is long, it gives the reader lots of opportunity to get to know the main characters, which I always like. It’s nice to spend time with characters that you care about. This comes from just spending more time with them and understanding their thoughts, complications, strengths and weaknesses.

I feel like this book is similar in some ways to The Gilded Ones and Raybearer (both mentioned and reviews linked in the first paragraph), and so if you read those and loved them, this is another one you should check out. Of you haven’t read them, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is an excellent start into your cultural fantastical exploration of African culture and beauty.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This is on par with other books in the genre, with some light language and fantasy violence.

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