Title: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Author: Roseanne A. Brown
First published June 2, 2020
466 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9780062891495 (ISBN10: 0062891499)
In A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, Malik is desperate to save his younger sister, Nadia, who has been taken by a vengeful spirit as payment into the city of Ziran.
In order to free her, Malik must agree to a fatal deal: assassinate Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran. But Karina has her own troubles to deal with.
Her mother, the Sultana, has been murdered, and her court is in chaos. To save her kingdom, she decides to use ancient magic to bring her mother back to life, requiring the heart of a king.
She offers her hand in marriage to the winner of the Solstasia competition, leading Malik to rig his way into the contest. As they are set on a collision course, ancient evils begin to stir, and they must decide if they can see their tasks through to the end or if their attraction to each other will cause them to falter.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown is a stunning and vividly imagined debut novel that takes readers on a thrilling journey through a lush, magical world filled with danger, intrigue, and romance.
Set against the backdrop of a fictional African-inspired kingdom called Ziran, Brown weaves together a complex and compelling story of two young people from very different backgrounds who find themselves thrown together by fate and forced to confront their deepest fears and desires. At its core, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a tale of survival, both physical and emotional.
The story follows Malik, a young refugee boy who has fled from his war-torn homeland and now lives in Ziran with his younger sister and the remnants of their fractured family. When his sister is kidnapped by a malevolent spirit known as a wraith, Malik becomes determined to save her, no matter the cost.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the kingdom, a young princess named Karina is plotting to win the solstice competition, which will allow her to lay claim to the throne and avenge her mother’s murder. But when her mother’s spirit is unleashed and demands that Karina sacrifice someone she loves in exchange for the throne, she is thrust into a web of deceit and treachery that threatens to destroy everything she holds dear.
As Malik and Karina circle each other warily, each with their own hidden agenda, they gradually begin to develop feelings for each other, even as they are sucked deeper into the dangerous world of the wraiths and the scheming courtiers who seek to use them for their own ends. Brown’s worldbuilding is rich and detailed, with vibrant descriptions of the landscape, culture, and folklore of Ziran that anchor the story in a sense of history and tradition.
The book’s strengths lie not only in its intricate plot and evocative setting, but also in its complex and fully realized characters. Malik and Karina are both flawed and vulnerable, struggling to navigate the competing demands of family, duty, and personal ambition.
However, they are also deeply empathetic and compelling, and their relationship is both poignant and electric. The pacing of the book is also superb, with a steady buildup of tension and suspense that culminates in a thrilling and satisfying conclusion.
However, there are a few moments where the plot veers slightly off course, and some of the supporting characters could have benefited from more fleshing out. Overall, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a stunning debut novel that heralds the arrival of a talented new voice in fantasy fiction.
It is a book that manages to be both epic and intimate, bridging the gap between high-stakes adventure and heartfelt emotion with grace and skill. I would highly recommend this book to fans of young adult and fantasy fiction, particularly those who are looking for stories that center around diverse characters and cultures.
This book is not only a thrilling adventure, but also a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition and the power of love and sacrifice.