illusions and resurrections | a song of wraiths and ruin by roseanne a. brown

by - 8:00 AM

"I look forward to the day you decide you're ready to fight for something instead of against everyone." 
The first in a 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 affection.
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?

Slaves deserve to be remembered just as much as queens.
Everything from the synopsis to that gorgeous cover promises a high-stakes adventure set in a hot and merciless desert. For a debut novel, Roseanne A. Brown weaves together a complex story that has all the elements of a classic young adult fantasy - there's deception and court politics, a tiny bit of forbidden romance, countless secrets, and a rich magic system. 

The only constructive criticism I have to make would be in regards to the pacing. The first 50% of the story took me quite a while to get through because there's so much introduction. The exposition comes off almost as info-dumping and while the purpose is to inform about the workings of the world, it lacks in building a personal connection to the reader. However, the latter 50% does a complete 180. The plot itself begins to pick up, the characters become more developed outside of their character arcs, and I began to care. 

If I asked you to catch me the moon with your bare hands how would you do it? 
When the moon began to set, I'd wait with my hands beneath it until it sank right into them. And then I'd turn around and give it to you.
This ultimately saved the story for me - I was able to feel connected with what was happening and everything overall began to feel more grounded and concrete. With Karina and Malik in particular, I do wish we could have gotten more development, but with the ending and the sequel, there's a lot that can be explored with their characterization. In the end, they remain true to who they are: Karina with her passion for her people and desire to be a good ruler, and Malik with his love for his family. 

Under the guise of a semi-centennial festival, the author also introduces some important themes of social justice that ring close to home in our current socio-political world. There's the portrayal of abused political power as well as unsolicited raids and violence against the innocent, created images that are both powerful and incredibly real. I appreciated the call, both to the characters in the novel and the reader, to assess the damage of human ignorance and racism and can't wait to see how the different people groups of this world come together to address these issues - perhaps we can finally learn something from fictional worlds and apply them to reality.

This post was originally part of a FFBC tour - following the news that the company has harassed and released personal information of a blogger, I'm removing my affiliation with them. This post remains up because I truly enjoyed the book and spent a lot of time putting everything together. A summary of what they have done:

Please continue showing lots of love and support for Roseanne A. Brown's amazing debut!! 

I had a lot of fun choosing some songs that would go well with the novel - it was really interesting to look up the English lyrics for these songs and see some similar themes that are interwoven in the story. Some specific lyrics that stood out to me:

I want you to be ruined, I won't hold you, You were my yesterday - hann
This is an endless tunnel, In darkness with no light, Wake me up, I need to find myself - wake me up
Dancing alone with the shadows, Let me be free please, The moonlight with eyes that shine on me, Dreamlike shadows that permeate me - Shadow
We all pretend to be the heroes on the good side, but what if we're the villains on the other - Villain

I also have the chance to share some of my favorite quotes with you all - I've incorporated a couple into my review but I decided to attempt to make some graphics. The images are from Pexels so all rights go to the original photographers 

I highly recommend you check this debut novel out and to go show the author some love and support. 
If you've picked this up - who's your favorite character? 

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  1. Oh this is such a lovely review, thank you for sharing <3 I've been hearing quite a bit about this book lately and it sounds so good. I'm sorry to hear it took a bit of time to pick up, but glad the second half of it was worth the wait! I can't wait to give this a try :)

    1. It was definitely worth it! I can't wait to hear what you think once you pick it up!!