Ruinsong – Julia Ember

So, I’m massively struggling to actually finish and review books right now, hence the slow pace on here… But my self-isolation is finally over and the election limbo in the US seems to have dissolved positively, which means I’m giving this a shot! Ruinsong is a queer YA fantasy with a unique take on magic and a revolutionary bend, so perfect for the current climate.

Thank you to FSG and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC of Ruinsong. All opinions are my own.



SUMMARY: In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence has been forced to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding.

But when she is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must finally make a choice: Take a stand to free their country from oppression, or follow in the queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself. (From Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)

OPINIONS: Ruinsong has one of the most exciting and unique concepts of magic in YA right now. Magic is expressed through music, but is connected to both innate talent and craft – sort of like opera singing. While it can be used for good such as healing, it is most often used for purposes of oppression by the regime and heavily regulated. Mixed in with this is a slow (and I mean, slowest) burn wlw romance between two old friends who reconnect in the worst of circumstances.

However, knowing that this was a wlw fantasy, I expected more on this front. I knew it was coming, but I only saw a couple of hints throughout the book before things happened, and I was hoping for more tension and chemistry. I generally felt that the pacing in Ruinsong did not quite work for me. It took almost half the book to get the story going properly, and major events happened very quickly in the last twenty percent or so. I would have preferred if the pacing was quicker in the beginning, leaving more space in the second half for character and plot development.

It generally feels like I was intrigued by the concept of Ruinsong more than by its ultimate execution. I’m very glad that I got to read it, but I don’t think that I will be returning to it. For me personally, it seems that there could have been more made out of the elements in the story, but I am curious to see what Julia Ember comes up with next and to see how her craft develops in future.

If you would like to follow the siren song of Ruinsong for yourself, add it to your Goodreads here, and pre-order it from Bookshop here (I get a tiny commission allowing me to keep up the site if you order through the link).

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