In Julia Ember's dark and lush LGBTQ+ romantic fantasy Ruinsong, two young women from rival factions must work together to reunite their country, as they wrestle with their feelings for each other.
Her voice was her prison…Now it’s her weapon.
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.
Ruinsong is a YA fantasy in which the voice is a central part of the magic system. I’m not familiar at all with The Phantom of the Opera, but apparently this is being marketed as a queer The Phantom of the Opera retelling. However, I wanted to read it because it’s sapphic fantasy and that cover is amazing.
Cadence is a mage who has been forced to use her voice to torture her country’s nobility at the queen’s bidding to make them compliant. When she and her family are discovered to be part of the rebellion, Remi is imprisoned and discovers that her childhood friend, Cadence, is no longer the person she remembers. Remi’s return helps Cadence find her voice (literally and figuratively) underneath the ruthless, power-hungry queen’s gaze, and they both navigate the more conservative nobility’s society compared to the more open outlook of the rebellion.
I enjoyed reading this! I don’t think the concepts of the novel were anything new or revolutionary, but it was well done for what it was and I loved the main characters a lot. The magic system is the most developed part of the world-building, but with the power of the voice being such a central theme to the story, I didn’t mind that I didn’t know much about the world in which they inhabited outside of the palace because I think I would have felt that knowing much more would have been toomuch. All I know is that I would have devoured this even more fifteen years ago, and I’m so glad that readers younger than me have the opportunity to read a fantasy book like this, with wlw, fancy dresses, high stakes, and learning how to harness one’s voice for the right thing, no matter how difficult it seems to be.
Many thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) for a review copy! All opinions are my own.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine (though it seems as though it’s been a while since she updated that particular blog, so if you know of the current host, if there is one, please let me know) that highlights upcoming releases that we’re impatiently waiting for. This week I’m featuring October-December 2020 review copies or purchased books that I have either in physical form or digital form that I can’t wait to dive into! But now that it’s the middle of November, I really need to get in gear and get these read! The release dates are listed but are always subject to change.
A Golden Fury – Samathan Cohoe :: It’s about a fantasy Oxford with alchemists and curses and the looming French Revolution. I’ve been in the MOOD for historical fantasies of all flavors, and I’m really thinking I’ll enjoy this one. Releases October 13, 2020.
Ruinsong– Julia Ember :: Sapphic YA fantasy with kingdoms and queens and underground rebellions?? YES. And that cover?? I love it already. Releases November 24, 2020.
The Hollow Places – T. Kingfisher :: Up until this year, I have not been one for much horror, but after reading a few stories and Mexican Gothic, I think I can handle a little bit more. 2020 was originally going to be about broadening my own horizons, especially with different genres, so when I saw this available for download, I thought I’d give it a go. Releases October 6, 2020.
The Thirty Names of Night – Zeyn Joukhadar :: I loved their debut title The Map of Salt and Stars and Atria was kind enough to send me a finished copy of the novel! I’m excited to see where this goes, and I have a feeling I’ll be so moved by it. Releases November 24, 2020.
White Ivy – Susie Yang :: I’m kind of loving that dark academia is becoming a thing in recent releases, and this one caught my attention when I saw it on the ARC shelf at work. Releases November 3, 2020.
Any Rogue Will Do – Bethany Bennett :: To be honest, this is a total cover buy, but LOOK AT IT. It’s so gaussian blurry and beautiful. I don’t think it’s Christmasy, but it looks very Christmasy, so I had to have it. This also looks like it’s the first title by this author? I’m definitely into this era of regency romance, and I like that the names of these characters are pretty traditional sounding for the era in which this book is set. And it’s definitely not a list like this without some romance added to it anymore. Releases October 13, 2020.
How to Catch a Queen – Alyssa Cole :: I’m at risk of becoming an Alyssa Cole fanblog but THAT’S OKAY. And you should read her stuff, it’s great. I’m looking forward to this new contemporary series! Releases December 1, 2020.
One Writer’s Beginnings – Eudora Welty :: I don’t remember requesting this from Scribner so it came as a complete surprise in my mailbox! But I do enjoy reading about writing because I feel like it helps with so much of my own writing and enjoyment of reading. Releases November 3, 2020.
Plain Bad Heroines – Emily M. Danforth :: Gilded Age gothic fiction set in a SCHOOL and it’s got LESBIANS? It sounds like everything I love in a book, and it’s a chonker so I’ve been waiting for a good few days off to start reading this because I have a feeling I won’t want to put it down. Releases October 20, 2020.
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020 – ed. John Joseph Adams and Diana Gabaldon :: I love love love anthologies because I get a flavor of a lot of different writers’ abilities and stories and I get to add more books to my TBR after making discoveries of writers I might not have heard of before! I don’t remember if I bought 2019’s (and I need to check because I have the others), but this series (and any anthologies put out by John Joseph Adams) has consistently been great. I also love 2020’s covers across all the Best American series; they’re incredibly striking! Releases November 3, 2020.
Are any of these on your to-read list? What one would you read first?