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 to enter the city Malik strikes a fatal deal – kill Karina, crown princess of Ziran, in exchange for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated, her court threaten mutiny, and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decided 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 content, he and Karina are set on a heart-pounding 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.
After I read ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi, I went on the hunt for a book that was similar. I’m not joking. I spent ages reading blurbs and synopsis online trying to find books that were similar. I just wanted something that would draw me back into a fantasy world filled with protagonists that looked like me.
So when I heard about ‘A Song of Wraiths and Ruin’ around June, my interest was piqued.
“With the heart-pounding action of Children of Blood and Bone, the magic of Spirited Away, and the twisty alluring intrigue of A Game of Thrones, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a MASTERPIECE.” – Brittney Morris, author of Slay.
Can we just deep that quote please? Do you know what you’ve done with that one line? Children of Blood and Bone? Spirited Away?
I ordered it to my house without even thinking about the price. I was SOLD.
Roseanne A Brown created a fantasy world linked with West-African mythology that’s beautiful, dark, mystical and so much more. She draws on themes of grief, familial love, romantic love, vengeance and power. Whilst this falls into the Young Adult genre, the writing is more descriptive and reflective at times, to novels that fall more into the fantasy Adult genre. However, this didn’t make a difference to how much I enjoyed the novel.
From the start, you’re dropped right into the middle of the action. Brown’s world building is incredible. Her ability to create a world that combines spirits, kings, queens, humans and gods, is unbelievable. That being said this isn’t a novel that you can speed read through. Whilst it is as action filled as Children of Blood and Bone, the writing is harder to read. I personally felt like I needed to focus more on each sentence to really imagine what was going on. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – especially as Brown had a lot to incorporate into this world. Whilst, this novel had a story about vengeance and power at the heart of it. There was a theme of self-acceptance that ran throughout – one that was prominent.
What I loved the most was the parallel of self-acceptance against illegal immigration. As an International Relations graduate too (a part of my degree I often don’t talk about), it was really interesting to witness in this fantasy world just how perpetual stereotype of being an illegal immigrant can really affect someone’s confidence and their ability to believe in themselves.
In all honesty, many people refer to illegal immigration when it’s financially upward – ‘from poorer to richer countries’. They may not even be illegal immigrants. They could be asylum seekers but wealthier countries (tends to be the West) will brand anyone that is likely to be dependent on the state as a threat to the country, when in all honesty, they’re only a ‘danger’ to capitalism.
Through Malik and his sister’s, we witness the desperation to start a new life as they seek refuge from their home city. Their home city that is being destroyed by the richer cities. It’s heart-breaking to read because they were clearly loving siblings just trying to help out the rest of their families. Whilst, Malik’s anxiety has clearly stemmed from his childhood, his status as an immigrant has only made him determined to hide his true roots. Other events in the novel forced Malik to adopt an almost false sense of confidence which I think aided his personal growth.
An almost ‘fake it till you make it’ kinda vibe.
However, we witness the dangers of allowing this mind-set to grow and how it places a false sense of security around you, that can easily crumble.
Karina seems to be the more impulsive one out of the two protagonists. At first, I assumed they were complete opposites. However, Karina was just better at hiding her anguish and anxiety. Yet, with her she also has the ‘fake it till you make it’ vibe which compeletly crumbles around her in the end.
Clearly, it doesn’t matter how strong-minded you think you are. At some point, you have to face the truth.
Most importantly, I loved the idea of familial love being the source of bravery. Both protagonists were rooted in their familial ties. It gave the novel more of a homely/welcoming feel as I personally felt like every action that took place was more understandable. Whilst, it made the enemy to lovers to trope very rich, it also made me understand just how much power family can have over you.
Family is normally where we build our first relationships. Our siblings or cousins (in some cases) tend to be the very first friendships we make. We underestimate it but our familial ties build the foundations for every single relationship we make then after. When we were younger, maybe we tended to rely on our parent’s approval more than we ever admitted. Eventually, we reached an age when we decided that our own happiness was enough.
Or we may take our sibling/cousin for granted. The friendship we have with them is so natural that we don’t even realise just how much of a blessing it is. With Karina, I think we witnessed this the most. I felt gratitude for the relationship I have with my siblings and cousins. More than anything, her narrative was a reminder of just how short life can be. Something that probably a lot of us can relate to this year.
Nonetheless, the magical elements within the novel combined with the desire for power and vengeance snuck up on me. The ending left me completely hooked and I’m irritated that I have to wait till next year Summer for ‘A Psalm of Storms and Silence’.
I can’t wait to see where Roseanne A Brown takes this duology.
Since, I’ve read it ‘A Song of Wraiths and Ruin’ has been optioned for television and I’m completely freaking out. A black magical television show seemingly influenced by Spirited Away?
I’m here for it.