Sometimes, I read two books within a few weeks of each other that share a lot of parallels. As such, it’s hard not to compare these books when you recognize those specific similar plot points. Let me say this, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin won every round. This book simply hit every point better. And on that note, welcome to the blog tour! Thank you to Harper Collins and FFBC Tours letting me join.
A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN
by Roseanne A. Brown
480 pages | Published June 2nd 2020 | Balzer + Bray
ARC Courtesy of the author
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?
This story, based on western Africa folklore, is told through the POVs of two very different characters.
Karina – A princess who was not born to be Sultana of Ziran, and has not shown any interest in learning the role since it was clear she was the heir instead. Her father and older sister died in a fire when Karina was younger, leaving her the heir to the throne with a mother who is not her biggest fan. And for good reason, when she has been more wrapped up in herself than learning the ropes. Karina is a rather unlikeable character, and I believe the author wrote her this way on purpose. It makes her journey and the things that she wants to feel more intriguing. She is hampered by migraines that come on whenever she remembers that fiery night and the family she lost, and it makes for an interesting POV.
Malik – A peasant who has come to Ziran with his older and younger sister and fake papers. His people are not welcome in this city, and are treated like good-for-nothing scum. Malik, when compared to Karina, is a proper cinammon roll. Not only does he have social anxiety that makes him flub regular conversations with newly met people, but he also has to work a little harder than others to be calm. Malik has hallucinations that allow him to see the Wraiths, which are horrible spirits that he has been able to see since he was a young boy. Problem is no one believes him. He is far more relatable than Karina and much easier to root for as he goes through the city and Solstasia.
This book is pitched as Aladdin, if Jasmine and Aladdin had to kill each other, and it delivers as an enemies to lovers story. Even though it isn’t particularly romantic, the comparison does still track. After his younger sister is stolen away as payment for magic done, Malik needs to kill the Karina in order to save his sister, or else lose her forever. To get close to the princess, Malik rigs the choosing of a champion to get into the games. Karina, on the other hand, must kill a king for his heart in order to resurrect her mother who was murdered by an assassin. To do this she rigs the games that Malik is now a competitor is in.
The world building in this was quite neat. A lot of pieces, but easy to figure out and understand. As I said, this is based on West African folklore, but it looks like there’s a little taste of Egyptian in there as well. The story begins on Solstasia Eve, right before the arrival of a comet that comes once every 50 years. There is great significance around this event as not only does it have magical implications that Karina needs to figure out on her own, but it also marks the beginning of a new era for Ziran. People worship a different god based on what day of the week they were born on. [Update: I just watched Rosie’s launch party, and this actually comes from Ghana tradition.] To determine which god will look over the new era, a week-long competition is held with a champion from each god competing. And this year, the winner gets to be king.
I am a big ol’ sucker for game/competition books. The Hunger Games is one of my all-time favourite books, and it spills over into my own writing as well. While I didn’t find the tasks to be the most exciting in this–there were only three, and Malik didn’t participate as he should have–I thought they were still integrated well into the story. They moved it forward at a perfect pace and kept things interesting.
The story itself is surprisingly quite twisty. There is no way that I could have imagined the ending going as it did. Quite literally, there is no trusting anyone. Don’t even bother. Suspicious eyes at all times. I cannot wait for the sequel to see what happens with these two characters!
Enter for your chance to win an ASOWAR bookplate, bookmark, two trading cards, and access to the exclusive short story!
Open internationally from June 2 – 16, 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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. Never content to stay in any one place for too long, Rosie currently teaches in Japan, where in her free time she can usually be found exploring the local mountains, explaining memes to her students, or thinking about Star Wars.
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