Tag Archives: fantasy YA

A Song of Wraith and Ruin: A Review

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 star

If you enjoy mythology, competitions, and star-crossed lovers, this story has all three. Based in African mythology, the Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a beautiful story. It is written in a double POV of the two main characters on either side of the conflict. Malik is a poor Eshran boy. The Eshran people are very oppressed and abused. They aren’t even allowed sometimes to enter certain cities in the kingdom. Karina is the princess of the kingdom, but her mother who is the ruling Queen has been distant with her since Karina’s father and sister died in a fire.

Then both of their lives are turned upside down. Malik’s younger sister makes a wish that comes true, but in return she is stolen away by an ancient magic. In order to get her back, Malik must kill the princess by the end of the comet festival. While in the palace, another terrible tragedy happens, leaving Karina to make some hard choices and reveals truths about herself that change everything.

Other than the descriptive landscape the story unfolds, the strongest and most fascinating aspect of the book is the character development and transformation. Themes like realizing the power within and being stronger than one realizes. But also how grief may make you want to do terrible things but love can be strong enough to stop you from doing them. Really believing in who you are and what you are capable of no matter what odds are stacked against you.

The ending is a definite cliffhanger. The next book is supposed to come out this year, but I understand a lot has been delayed in the book world due to the pandemic. Still, I will be on the lookout for the next one in this series!

There is a profanity in the book. Sexual content is mentioned but not acted out and not graphic. There is kissing in the book. There is death in the book, death by falling, death by sword/stabbing, and there is fighting in the book. The author actually lists trigger warnings at the beginning of the book which was extremely helpful.

Mask of Shadows: A Review

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the first book that I received with my Page 1 Subscription Box. I didn’t hate it enough to contact them to ask for a different book (which they do that), but I think I did something I shouldn’t have before reading the book. Something I don’t normally do for any book.

I read reviews on Goodreads. I didn’t read any particular star amounts, just the first few reviews on the page, and it definitely colored my reading of this book.

So, Sal is a gender-fluid thief who joins a masked competition for the position as one of the honored assassins to the Queen. This was not my first gender-fluid character in a fictional book – I remember Jericho in the Arc of the Scythe series by Neal Shusterman who was male in the sun and female in the shadow, but it was the first lead character who is. I think there’s a lot of creativity in a gender-fluid character, or there can be. Sal is male when he wears “male” clothes and she is female when she wears a dress. So you have to really pay attention to what he/she is wearing, so you could understand when a character slighted them.

Which isn’t my favorite part of books, the description of clothing, and there was a lot of that. It felt like every time a character entered a scene, we had to know every piece of clothing they were wearing, including the masks on their faces.

The other issue I had with this book was also mentioned in the reviews. There are a lot of characters in this book that seem to be throwaway characters. There are twenty-three competitors. Plus, in the midst of the competition, Sal talks about all of the backstory of the kingdom which I honestly couldn’t remember the names of the good and bad people in the war, which made remember them later when Sal references them really difficult. I literally used a notebook to list characters so I could understand what was going on.

I did find Sal’s past with shadows really interesting, and how it plays into the book. The plot really speeds up towards the end, but it feels more like it’s just for the set up for the next book. I don’t think I will get the next one right away, but just let that book simmer on the shelf, maybe pick it up at a later date to read again.

There is profanity in the book. Sexual content includes pretty chaste kissing, hugging, and holding. Lots of violence including but not limited to cutting off hands, weapon play, flaying, poison, and lots of death. There is, of course, LGBTQIA representation in the main characters.

The Cruel Prince: A Review

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Cruel Prince is a YA fantasy adventure by Holly Black. It takes place mostly in the Fairie Realm. I recognized a lot of the lore from what I have read in traditional Fey stories, even some Shakespeare, which I thought would be interesting.

The story surrounds a girl named Jude. Other major characters include Caden, the prince to the High King, and his friends Valerian, Nicasa and Locke, Jude’s twin sister Taryn and their half-sister Vivienne, Magnus the General to the King and also Jude’s paternal guardian. The story is told from Jude’s perspective which is very affected by her understanding that the Fey and the Fairie world for that matter are beautiful and dangerous. From the moment she gets there, she is taught how to protect herself, what not to eat, what to do to keep her from getting manipulated or “glamoured” by the immortal Fey who don’t have a very high view of mortals, especially mortals without extraordinary skills of some kind of art. So, to me, the characters are limited in the way they are developed because it is all from her perspective which is highly prejudiced on these facts. Some of the actions of others aren’t really explained or understood, it’s because “that’s just the way it is” as Jude sees it. Jude’s violent past and present also affect her perspective.
Jude and her twin sister Taryn and half-sister Vivienne are taken to the Fairie world after witnessing the murder of their parents. The murderer then becomes their father (Magnus) and raises them among the high court fey because he is the General of the Army to the High King. Because of his status, they are educated among the basically rich kids who look down on their mortality. Caden and his friends, especially, torture Jude and Taryn. And the two sisters have different reactions to that bullying. The current High King Eldred is stepping down to give the crown to one of his children, and Prince Dain seems to be the front-runner. Jude is hoping to become a knight for Prince Dain, essentially giving her power to protect herself from her enemies. As the coronation nears, there is a lot of intrigue and deception, and Jude must choose who to trust.
One of the themes is having power and using power and desiring power. And also how power can corrupt and betray.
The writing flows pretty well. I’m not a big fan of the entire scene or what everyone is wearing being described, and there was a good bit of that in here. I’m very plot driven and character driven, which I think is done well in this book, but I found myself skimming the paragraphs that described everyone’s clothes. There is a lot of foreshadowing, and I didn’t fully trust everything Jude saw because the prejudices were pretty clear, so some of the twists were not surprises to me, but I did like how everything connected in the end. When things were finally revealed to Jude, the author had some secrets that I didn’t catch right away that played into the plot.

There is some profanity in the book, mostly towards the end with one character. Most of the language was very lore based so it didn’t have as much traditional profanity. I feel like that one character use of profanity signified their rejection of the Fairie world and the longing of the mortal world.
There is a reference to the “greening of the gown” which is a euphemism for sex, there is one scene where a character strips off their clothing, but most of the actual content just includes kissing. There is some romance and it does play into the plot or subplots, but I felt like this was more of an action adventure than a romance, so the sexual content was at a low.
There is a lot of violence in this book. I mean, the story starts with the descriptions of Jude’s parents being murdered. The Fairie world is very violent and Jude becomes very violent as a result. There is a lot of blood and fight scenes and murder scenes throughout the book.

Overall, I think the book was well written, though slow at times. It’s going to be a trilogy and I am interested in where the author will take the story from where it ends in this book. Of course, the next book is not slated to be released until next year, so I’m not sure if I will remember to get the next book at that point. I would recommend late teens early twenties for this book just for the amount of violence. Jude does learn how much violence and the desire for power can corrupt, but believing she is far too gone, relies heavily on these things to try to do what is best. So I would be aware of that. I give it three and a half stars. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve read, but it’s good for its genre.

What have you been reading lately?

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