A Song of Wraiths and Ruin – A Review by Bryony

“Slaves deserved to be remembered just as much as queens.”

Rating: 4 stars

Release date: 2nd June

Publisher: Harper360YA

Author: Roseanne A Brown

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 his younger sister, Nadia, as payment to enter 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 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?

CW (listed by the author at the start of the book): Mild self-harm ideation, fantasy violence, emotional and physical abuse, anxiety and panic attacks, parent death and animal death.

I really enjoyed the world in this. Given the tale, setting was really important and it was so easy to make it rich and descriptive. Malik, half our narrative cast, comes from a really poor town, so everything around him is new and exciting and beautiful. It’s set during a festival, giving the reader a chance to learn about the history of the world, but they also learn about it through conversations and experiences.

And storytelling. Storytelling is a huge part to this story (which I love) and also a huge part of Malik’s character. And I loved Malik’s character. Like the author says below, he’s a male character defined by his kindness and his loyalty to his family. He also suffers with anxiety and panic attacks, which is so unusual generally in fantasy and even more unusual with men because men don’t suffer like that in real life. *eye roll*

I actually liked Malik and Karina’s relationship. Perhaps I like the enemies to lovers trope? But I thought how it developed and how they acted towards each other was really interesting and well developed. Plus, they had a dance scene and I love dance scenes.

This book was filled with lots of twists and things I didn’t expect to happen. There was betrayal and drama and people you couldn’t trust. Plus, I had no clue how the book was going to end – which isn’t a surprise given the blurb, surely?

My library had the audiobook of this and, whilst I was planning on reading the physical book alongside it, it never quite worked out. Usually, fantasy audiobooks don’t work for me, but this one did! There was each a narrator for Malik and Karina and I didn’t feel like I got confused listening to the story, which helped me enjoy it more.

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