A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Posted September 3, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

by Roseanne A. Brown

Series: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray on June 2, 2020
Genre: #OwnVoices, Fantasy, Magic, Necromancers
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

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 can see why the community is screaming about how much they loved this book.  A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is exciting, atmospheric, and the stakes are so high that as a reader, I constantly felt like I was running after an impossible goal, all while the sand tricked out of the hourglass faster and faster.  Add to that the fact that the ending was completely unexpected – a rare trick – and this novel is a force to be reckoned with.

That said, I try to be an objective reader, and if I’m being honest, I have to say that I didn’t love A Song of Wraiths and Ruin throughout my entire journey.  The beginning pulled me in – the world was immediately interesting and I liked the siblings from the start.  But as Karina was introduced and the story wore on, I started to feel like I was running a marathon with no signs of the finish line.  The pace in this book is really fast, something that always surprises me when I find it in a novel over 450 pages?  Brown tried to fit so much into these pages that the plot really propels you forward, and I felt like I never got a chance to slow down and take in the sights, or really get to know Malik of Karina.  I found myself challenged occasionally to follow their lines of thought, and the romance that developed between a couple characters seemed too swift and easy.  I’m not sure what Brown is going to do with that facet in following books, but depending on her plans, the romance could either be nothing or (for me – a romance Scrooge) very frustrating.

Still, if you were to ask me what I thought about this book at about page 300, I’d’ve said that I get what others enjoyed, but it wasn’t working for me.  Fortunately, Brown completely outsmarted me and so many of the bits and pieces that irked me throughout the middle pages came together with explanations at the end that made all the difference.  For example, one of the characters gets migraines… and as someone who also gets migraines, the onset of them made no sense to me.  Until the end when a new detail was revealed and they did.  And I’m really glad, too, because they were something I was thinking about discussing in my extended review and I worried that it may come off as ableist to say I didn’t feel the condition was well represented, but once I understood why they were the way they were… it made sense.  It all made sense.

When I was able to glimpse the world, it was excellent.  I think one of the things that frustrated me most about the pace is that a thing would be happening and I’d want to slow down and experience that thing more fully – the carnival or the necropolis, especially! – and not be able to do that because of the speed the plot set.  These glimpses into the greater world were absolutely fascinating, and I’d love a novella from a side character’s POV who actually had the time to peruse and appreciate some of these places… because I want more.  I understand why things were the way they were, but that doesn’t mean I was satisfied.  Brown built a really cool world and I want to see it up close!

The last 60 pages or so are what really pulls A Song of Wraiths and Ruin together.  All the threads pull together, people are unmasked, and paths diverge.  I am really interested to see what Brown does with Karina and Malik’s separate paths, and for once, I’m hoping for a slower book two that lets me get to know these characters better as individuals, rather than just their desperation and motivation in a small (for the scale of this book) struggle.

Also I really don’t want to give something away at the end because it was unspoiled for me and I want everyone to have that experience but there was A Thing That Happened that Brown sort of kept… glancing at… at the end?  And it’s a Big Thing and seems to be using one of my favorite aspects of fantasy that never gets used and I Am Very Interested In What Is Going To Happen Next With This Thing.  Brown cleverly kept trying to distract us with Malik and Karina’s futures but I will not be swayed, I think The Thing is going to end up being a major plot thing in a future book and I.  Can’t.  Wait.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin deserves its hype.  It’s a rich fantasy novel with one of the prettiest covers this year, filled with questions and the best kind of reading anxiety, and aspects of world building that are uncommon and truly wonderful.  It’s an enjoyable read to escape into a shattering kingdom and I highly recommend it.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★ 1/2

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A Song of Wraiths and Ruin Stays On My Shelf

For a little while, I wasn’t sure this one would make the cut.  The characters didn’t reveal too much of themselves, there were some aspects that felt like clumsily-disguised info dumps, and how easily Karina was able to leave the palace and do whatever she wanted drove me a bit crazy.

But then there was the ending.

The ending made all the difference to me and now I can’t stop thinking about certain implications.  I think, with how much I’m now obsession about the closing events, I would read this again.  And I’m anxious for book two!

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How do you like your pacing in books?  Do you prefer a slow burn, or for the action to keep moving the entire time?  Let me know your preferences in the comments!

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