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.
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?
*ARC received via Edelweiss. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*
Trigger Warning : Murder, Casteism
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is an African inspired fantasy about a boy trying to save his sister, and a princess trying to bring her mother back. It is, at it’s core, a story about family, and the lengths to which you’ll go for the ones you love. It’s a story about whether or not you can give up everything you hold dear for that one person in your life who you love. It’s about battling with yourself everyday, trying to do the right thing, but knowing that you will end up doing the wrong thing anyway, because you love your family just that much.
Family, as you have guessed, is the main theme of this story. Not just your blood family, but also found family. It’s what I love most about this story. The importance of family and how people are ready to give up everything to save their loved ones. It’s beautifully poetic and heartbreakingly tragic at the same time, and I felt every single emotion.
Since this is the first book in a duology, as expected, the first half of it was slow, and there were times I struggled through it because it was too slow in some places, and because I was bored in others. However, the second half is just as fast paced, and interesting and edgy. It made up for all of my misgivings about the pace of the first half. I sopped it up so quickly, in a matter of a couple hours because it was so amazingly well plotted. The last 25% of the book will leave you gobsmacked with so many twists and turns occurring every time you turn the page.
The characters in this story are all brilliant in their own way. Not just the main leads, but the entire ensemble of supporting characters is well crafted too. I liked them all, even the villains. They had their own motivations for doing things they did. While I didn’t support what they did, I could understand where they were coming from, and that’s what makes it even more interesting to read this. You can’t really fault anyone for doing what they did.
Of all the characters, I think I related to Karina the most. Her pain, her motivations, her struggles – all of it was so well written. She always considered herself second best. That thought process of never being good enough, never being able to live up to people’s expectations got to me. It was really well thought out, and showed in Karina’s story brilliantly. The way she grew throughout the book, owning up to her responsibilities, owning up to who she’s meant to be, was commendable. She made many mistakes, but what I liked was she didn’t shy away from moving forward. She did what she thought she had to do to bring her mom back. Even if she was afraid, even if she was hesitant, she did what she had to. And then, in the end, she realized who she was, and what she should and shouldn’t be doing, what was the right thing to do, and that’s what made me happy. She grew so well.
While Karina is the character I related to the most, Malik is the one I’m soft for. Right from the start, I just couldn’t help but like him. His struggles were similar to Karina’s in so many ways, but they both handled it so differently, and that was very interesting for me to see. But mostly, I just wanted to go inside the book and give him a hug and tell him it would all be okay and that he could do it.
The depiction of mental illness in this story is another thing that I really appreciate. It was very nicely done and I loved it. It was woven into the narrative nicely and I liked how it wasn’t received negatively by other characters in the book.
All in all, I absolutely loved this book, and I think all of you should pick it up as well!
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.