“The past devours those naive enough to forget it.”
The first in a 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?
Lion-eyed girl meets night-eyed boy in this breathtaking debut novel by Roseanne A. Brown 🌿 A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a crown princess (Karina) and a refugee (Malik) “find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.”
The world building, though a bit confusing at the start, was also refreshing and unique. I was transported to lush gardens, a hidden necropolis, colorful culture, exciting music, and of course: magic and supernatural beings. The influence of West African folklore really added vibrance to the narrative. There’s a lot to be unpacked in how the book explored topics of politics, revolution, mental health, racism and diversity.
“The pain you have endured does not justify the pain you inflict on others.”
The story is told through alternating POV between Karina and Malik. I connected immediately with Malik because he grew up in a poor household, he loves stories, and he is sweet to his sisters and kind to strangers. Looking back, I think that the slow parts for me were mostly chapters from Karina’s perspective. She was a bit harder to love than Malik; mainly because she is coming from a position of privilege and is therefore blind to so many things that is happening around her and that are bigger than her own sorrows. I am looking forward to seeing her character development on the next book, and hopefully more of the feisty Afua, too. The young girl Afua is just a minor character, but I thought she provided a much needed relief from Karina’s toxicity whenever she appears.
“Do not underestimate the strength it takes to be kind in a world as cruel as ours.”
My only issues with the book are in the small details. For example, why is everyone so good at stabbing each other in the heart?? I don’t think it’s that easy to do unless you’re a trained assassin, and not for characters who are supposed to be gentle and kind. There is one specific scene where a dagger was between a character’s teeth, only to have it quite effortlessly pierced through a soldier’s armor. That whole scene was a mess for me. Another confusing element was at the start of the book. I thought Malik was a 10-year old or maybe younger, but it turns out he is maybe around eighteen. I couldn’t verify the exact age but definitely a young adult. At first I thought it was just me who got confused until I read this review of my friend which also said the same thing.
I get easily distracted with minutiae and to me it is essential for maintaining the suspension of disbelief. Be that as it may, I did love the story and the plot twists.
“Nothing good can come of a place that refuses to see the pain of the people on whose backs it was built.”
Yes, there are fast-paced plot twists and betrayals as one could expect from YA fantasy. The romance I did not really care for, but it’s there. It’s a bit insta-love but I could still respect it for not being over-the-top.
Lines get blurred between the good and the bad depending on the perspective of whoever is telling their truth but ultimately we see that violence is never an answer to anything. Though it should seem simple and obvious that people in power should always serve the masses and not themselves, the novel reveals how fragile human nature continues to prevail and trap minorities in a life that is much like an endless game of survival.
I clearly enjoyed creating a journal spread for this. It was easy to incorporate favorite elements: the quotes, flowers, musical notes, and wildlife. 🌿 I am grateful to @fantasticallydiverselitclub for introducing this book to me last July. I am not joining in on this month’s read-alongs to make way for local reads but I am looking forward to more fantastically diverse books in the future. Do check out the group page on Instagram if you are also interested in discovering diverse reads within the fantasy genre.
About the Author
Roseanne “Rosie” A. Brown was born in Kumasi, Ghana and immigrated to the wild jungles of central Maryland as a child. Writing was her first love, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to use the power of writing—creative and otherwise—to connect the different cultures she called home. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and was also a teaching assistant for the school’s Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House program. Her journalistic work has been featured by Voice of America among other outlets.
On the publishing side of things, she has worked as an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. Rosie was a 2017 Pitch Wars mentee and 2018 Pitch Wars mentor. Rosie currently lives outside Washington D.C., where in her free time she can usually be found wandering the woods, making memes, or thinking about Star Wars.
Rosie is represented by Quressa Robinson of Nelson Literary Agency.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1
by Roseanne A. Brown
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published June 2nd 2020 by Balzer + Bray
ISBN0062891499 (ISBN13: 9780062891495)
Genres: Fantasy | Young Adult | Romance | Mythology