Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on November 24, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
Source: eARC from Publisher
Revolution, or silence?
In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence must choose between the two. For years, she 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.
In this dark and lush LGBTQ+ romantic fantasy, two young women from rival factions must work together to reunite their country, as they wrestle with their feelings for each other.
Ruinsong is a young adult fantasy by author Julia Ember. The author describes the book as a “queer Phantom of the Opera retelling with music magic”, which is a pretty good description, and sounded super unique to me. Overall the novel ended at a good stopping place, but I can see, and maybe hope for more trips to this world, because the world and it’s unique magic system were my favorite aspects of this story. The music magic is something that really appealed to me, and obviously it lends well to a Phantom retelling. It felt a little reminiscent of another new release, Divided Fire which also has a magic system based on the users voice, so I was really loving how different the authors made their magic systems.
In Ruinsong, we meet our two main characters, Cadence and Remi. Cadence is the Queen’s newest musical prodigy, who uses her voice to weave magic to do the Queen’s bidding. And Remi, is the daughter of nobles. Both girls are drawn together over their dislike of the Queen. Ruinsong is very much a book about choices. Choosing who you are, choosing what you support, and choosing what kind of a stand you want to talk against the things you don’t support. It felt like a magical singing version of a revolutionary novel, which I liked. I loved the magic system, but I did find myself searching for more detail on how it all worked within the world. Nothing major, just a few more details. The author does such a beautiful job painting pictures of the scenes, that I was hoping for an equally descriptive imagery of the magic system, mainly the how and history of the magic system.
The romance in Ruinsong was great, and I loved the character representation that was present. However both in the character development and in the plot, I felt like the pacing was kind of all over the place at times. It was either too slow and not much was happening, or it was sped up so quickly and abruptly that I had to reread pages to make sure I wasn’t missing something. The ending of Ruinsong felt a bit rushed. Overall, I liked this book and I was super intrigued by the world and by the characters, but I wish the pacing felt a bit more even throughout the story. Ruinsong was a solidly good novel, and I hope we get to visit this world again.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 New Release Challenge
- 2020 Retellings Reading Challenge
- Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2020