A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (432 pages)
In A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, a Determined Princess and a Soft-Spoken Refugee Put Everything on the Line to Save the Ones They Love
After her mother’s murder, Princess Karina will do anything to bring her back from the dead — even a resurrection ritual. The only issue? She needs the heart of a king to complete it. Seeing as Karina is the underestimated Princess of Ziran, she doesn’t believe she has what it takes to bring back the only family she has left. With Ziran’s legendary festival, Solstasia, on the horizon, Princess Karina devises a reckless plan to get what she needs. To obtain the heart of a king, she will offer her hand in marriage to the champion of the Solstasia competition.
Meanwhile, all Malik wants is to start a new life away from his dreadful home with his two sisters. That proves to be difficult when an evil spirit kidnaps his little sister, Nadia, in order to use it as leverage against Malik. This wicked spirit wants nothing more than to enter Ziran and get vengeance on the family who robbed him of his life, and he will use Malik to do so. He tells Malik that if he wants to save his sister, he must kill Princess Karina. Malik, being not only resourceful but mysteriously magical, manipulates his way into the Solstasia competition to get closer to the princess.
As Karina and Malik are set on a trajectory to destroy one another, chaos and magic begin to rise from the ashes of Ziran. Karina must keep her focus on saving her mother while fighting the growing attraction for a certain Champion. And Malik rushes to save Nadia while the guilt and emotions are gnawing on him from the inside out. As this epic adventure advances, Karina and Malik will be challenged beyond their limits as the fate of not only their loved ones, but also Ziran, hangs in the balance.
A Thrilling Tale of Adventure, Magic, and Fatal Attraction
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin contains all the elements that make a fantasy what it should be. Mysterious ancient magic plays a pivotal role in the main characters’ lives that drives the story deeper.
Even though this is a high fantasy, Roseanne A. Brown does an excellent job making Malik and Karina relatable characters to the readers. With mentions of anxiety, panic attacks, and abuse, Brown approaches these topics with real sensitivity. These themes weave into the story through Karina and Malik’s personalities and interactions, showing readers they are not alone in their struggles.
With a fresh new magic system, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin depicts what fantasy can look like when rooted in West African mythology. The citizens worship a different god based on what day of the week they were born, which comes from a Ghana tradition.
The worldbuilding is beautifully imaginative. I was able to envision the streets of Ziran, the Azure Garden, and Karina’s palace through Brown’s vivid descriptions. It’s not every day when a reader can transport themselves to the setting of a captivating story, but no one should have a problem with this one.
Written in a dual POV through Karina and Malik, we see how extraordinarily different these two characters are. Karina comes off as a sort of ‘unlikeable’ character at the beginning when we learn she’s never had any interest in learning how to be Sultana of Ziran. This lack of interest could be rooted in hidden insecurities, but when her mother is murdered right in front of her eyes, there is quite a shift in her nature.
Soon, Karina is filled with a fierce determination to bring her mother back, and she’ll do whatever it takes, even if it costs an innocent life. The death of Karina’s mother is a pivotal event in her story because it serves as a catalyst to show the readers who Karina is. Throughout the tale, the events shape her in a way she never thought possible; she becomes a leader.
Malik must overcome his reserved nature to save Nadia. Having always been a hard-working boy, Malik never feels like anything he does is good enough for his family or himself. Throughout the story, Malik struggles quite a bit with his notion to kill Princess Karina while Karina holds no doubt that she will kill whoever wins the Solstasia competition. The explosive ending shows how much these two characters’ mindsets changed and leaves readers on the edge of their seats as they watch the chaos coming from Karina and Malik’s actions. This story is nothing short of spellbinding and truly what a high fantasy should be.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 Brookie Stars
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin encompasses three-dimensional characters, an interesting magic system, and epic adventure. Karina and Malik’s story shows that characters can have similar struggles to us, which I appreciated as a reader. They’re the type of characters who stick with us for quite some time! It’s refreshing to find a fantasy novel that holds all of these elements while telling a fun and captivating story. Roseanne A. Brown knocked it out of the park!
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Brittany Amalfi is a 20- something- year- old developmental specialist living in Massachusetts where she loves all things New England. Brittany is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing, and working on her young adult fantasy novel. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, working with awesome kiddos, and spending time with friends and family.
Favourite book: I can only choose one? Shadow and Bone by Leigh bardugo
Favourite brunch spot: Primavera