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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 ruth 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.


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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 ruth 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.

30 review for Ruinsong

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julia Ember

    UPDATE: Ruinsong will be released on November 24, 2020! This book is a queer Phantom of the Opera retelling with music magic and girls wearing pink ballgowns and ribbons while brutally destroying their enemies. I'm made an aesthetic for it today, so I decided to share it here too: UPDATE: Ruinsong will be released on November 24, 2020! This book is a queer Phantom of the Opera retelling with music magic and girls wearing pink ballgowns and ribbons while brutally destroying their enemies. I'm made an aesthetic for it today, so I decided to share it here too:

  2. 5 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    3.5 Stars CW: torture, (view spoiler)[animal killed off page in revenge, distress after murder of animal, manipulation and control, body shaming (hide spoiler)] Well this book had such a wonderful magic system with singing being the vehicle for people's power. I'm not sure who decided to liken this to The Phantom of the Opera because that feels like a bit of a stretch. That being said I got swept into the characters and their journeys. I wish we had a few more magical musical showdowns and the worl 3.5 Stars CW: torture, (view spoiler)[animal killed off page in revenge, distress after murder of animal, manipulation and control, body shaming (hide spoiler)] Well this book had such a wonderful magic system with singing being the vehicle for people's power. I'm not sure who decided to liken this to The Phantom of the Opera because that feels like a bit of a stretch. That being said I got swept into the characters and their journeys. I wish we had a few more magical musical showdowns and the world building had been a bit more solid, but the author has left things open for a possible sequel so hopefully we get to explore this world more. I really enjoyed the characters and their dynamics. It's lucky because this is mostly a character driven story as Cadence and Remi navigate their relationship under the ever watchful eye of a power hungry Queen. An engaging story.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ♠ TABI⁷ ♠

    please don't let instalove ruin the glorious song of this concept also that cover is PURPLE and glorious and therefore I love it dearly please don't let instalove ruin the glorious song of this concept also that cover is PURPLE and glorious and therefore I love it dearly

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Schaeffer

    I am so excited for all of you guys to read this book. It is everything I love in my fantasy, lush, immersive world-building, unique, vicious magic, morally grey characters, and a twisty, twisted plot. 2020 can't come fast enough! I am so excited for all of you guys to read this book. It is everything I love in my fantasy, lush, immersive world-building, unique, vicious magic, morally grey characters, and a twisty, twisted plot. 2020 can't come fast enough!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melanie (mells_view)

    Ruinsong has Phantom of the Opera vibes, magic, strong female leading characters, a revolution, and a little bit of romance. The perfect mix for an amazing YA fantasy read! I enjoyed this story, because it really played on the power of using ones voice. You can use your voice for good or you can use it to harm. We’ve just gotta make the choice to do what’s right, even when it’s hard. AVAILABLE NOW! *ARC

  6. 4 out of 5

    jut

    the perfect sapphic dark academia.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    “These mages put too much stock in their songs. They never notice how much you can say in silence. ” 3.5 stars. Ruinsong is a novel that really draws you in with its intriguing magic system and having a really refreshing take on some familiar YA Fantasy themes. Ruinsong is set in a world with mages whose most powerful tool is their voice. Singing is their way of casting spells. One of our main characters, Cadence, is such a mage. She is employed by the queen to torture the noble people “These mages put too much stock in their songs. They never notice how much you can say in silence. ” 3.5 stars. Ruinsong is a novel that really draws you in with its intriguing magic system and having a really refreshing take on some familiar YA Fantasy themes. Ruinsong is set in a world with mages whose most powerful tool is their voice. Singing is their way of casting spells. One of our main characters, Cadence, is such a mage. She is employed by the queen to torture the noble people and make them compliant. The other POV we follow is Remi, a noblewoman and old childhood friend of Cadence's. She is one of the few nobles who really sees through the queen's scheme and starts rebelling against the sytsem. When Remi suddenly becomes the queen's prisoner because her family is suspected to be involved in the rebellion, her and Cadence get reunited and Cadence starts questioning her upbringing and loyalty to the queen. “Others around us begin to chant their thanks as well. Praise be to our most gracious, merciful queen, who has healed us, who has reminded us once again of our place, who keeps our country safe. How can they thank her? The queen is a monster, with a menagerie of torturers at her beck and call.” I absolutely loved the magic system and it was for sure the stand-out element of this novel for me. Just the idea itself, of the magic being cast by singing, is something that I found so very intriguing. I loved reading Cadence's chapters and seeing how the magic works and how you are attuned to certain things as a corporeal singer. It really seemed like the author put a lot of thought into the magic system, as it was describe very detailed. I did feel like we didn't learn too much about the world itself but it was easy enough to understand. And because the magic system was so intricate, it didn't really bother me that we didn't find out too much about the world building in general. What we do find out about the world was that it had been a queendom for hundreds of years. It was also very interesting to read about the differences between the nobles, the commoners and mages. The nobels represent a more conservative society, who resist change, especially when it comes to views of gender and sexuality and they still engage in arranged marriages for political reasons. Their views are seen as outdated, especially compared to the mages, who freely get to love and marry whoever they want to and the commoners are starting to adapt that same thinking too. “If I had been born a mage, I would be free to flirt with pretty girls, and no one would judge me for it. I’ve imagined myself sometimes: strolling through the market with a mage’s badge pinned to my collar, winking at the shopgirls or seducing a fire-haired tavern wench over a mug of ale.” One of my favourite elements of this story is Cadence starting to understand that she grew up in a very controlled environment and that her magical education was always very selective. I love elements like that in a story, where a characters eyes get opened to an aspect of their own magic that had been hidden from them before and I thought that this aspect was very well executed in this story. In general I absolutely loved reading from Cadence's point of view and finding out her story. Even with being loyal to the queen, she questions her ways and doesn't want to be a singer that tortures the people. She sees herself in a position where her magic is still the best option for the folk because her healing powers are so strong too. I thought that Cadence was a very nuanced, complex and interesting character to read about. “Madam Guillard didn’t once mention that there were spells I could learn, even when I ran to her sobbing after Ren had hexed me. She always told me it was impossible to block. Has my tutor, my mentor, left me vulnerable by choice?” There is a romantic storyline between Remi and Cadence and it is basically a childhood friends to enemies to lovers romance. I will say that their relationship didn't really stand out to me much. Maybe it was because they already knew each other as children and so I felt like I missed out on their development and didn't feel attached to their friendship or romantic relationship. Their chemistry was very well written though. Apart from the queer representation, Remi is described as chubby. There is one fatshaming incident in the book but it is challenged and Remi states that she generally does not mind being called fat, as long as it is said as a fact and not an insult. “I wonder what it would be like to undo them one by one, to trace my fingers down the hollow of her spine, to follow the touch with my lips. What would her skin taste like? Would her back, so supple and firm, quiver when I kissed it? Would she arch up into my touch?” Overall, I enjoyed reading Ruinsong a lot, even though I wasn't super invested in all the elements of the story and found the ending to be anti-climatic. But this novel's magic system was one of the most intricate and intriguing ones that I have read about in a while and I would absolutely recommend it. Trigger and Content Warnings for mentions of cancer, animal death (the death itself is not on page but the scene of the main character discovering the animal is very graphic), blood, torture, vomiting. Instagram | Blog | Booktube Channel | Twitter I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!

  8. 4 out of 5

    ❀ Alex ❀ (The Scribe Owl)

    Come see this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl Thank you to Expresso Book Tours for supplying me with a review copy in exchange for a blog tour stop and honest review! 3/5 stars! I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would! I honestly didn't have very high expectations, but this was a very entertaining read that I loved for the worldbuilding and unique magic system. I didn't really care for a couple of other elements, but I'll get to that later. We follow Cadence, the Principal singe Come see this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl Thank you to Expresso Book Tours for supplying me with a review copy in exchange for a blog tour stop and honest review! 3/5 stars! I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would! I honestly didn't have very high expectations, but this was a very entertaining read that I loved for the worldbuilding and unique magic system. I didn't really care for a couple of other elements, but I'll get to that later. We follow Cadence, the Principal singer of a cruel queen and Remi, a viscount's daughter and member of the nobility. Cadence and other mage singers have magic in their songs that the queen exploits for her own gain. She forces Cadence to sing to torture the nobility, whom the queen hates from a slight in her past. Remi and Cadence were childhood friends, but when Remi sees what Cadence has become, she feels like she no longer knows her. The absolute best part of this book was the magic system. I have not read a single review where the reader did not like the magic system. I love when a book has magic in music, and Ruinsong didn't disappoint! Don't think me macabre, but the scene at the beginning of the book with Cadence torturing the nobles with her song? That kind of crazy display of power is awesome. But then we didn't really get any cool crazy dark magic. The magic system is awesome, but I would have liked to see more of it. The world was pretty basic. It was enjoyable enough, but it was bland. Just a run of the mill high fantasy world. What I did like was that the queen and the nobles were at odds. Normally the royals have the nobility in their pocket for whenever needed, but the queen literally tortured them here. I thought Cadence was a great character. She was a bit of a morally grey character, with a good heart but a bit of a weak outlook on life. She had a character arc. Remi on the other hand... annoying, and no character arc whatsoever. Not a fan. And for the romance? There was instalove. I guess we missed them meeting and getting to know each other because they were childhood best friends, but I feel like I missed out. The writing was fine. I normally prefer fantasy to be written in third person for more of that magical feel, but that's not really a big thing. Again, another thing that was just fine but not great. She didn't segue between different plot points very well either, but it was fine. What I didn't like was how Julia Ember felt like she had to introduce every tiny side character, some of which didn't even get the chance to talk or do anything, by their race. And they were only white or black, nothing else. It was...weird. I don't quite know what to make of it, but I'm not a fan. Ruinsong is marketed as a Phantom of the Opera retelling, but I didn't get that vibe at all. There were music and masks. I just don't really feel like that makes it a Phantom retelling. More of a half-abandoned attempt and a marketing ploy. All in all, though I didn't exactly regret my read, I wouldn't recommend it. It had so much potential, but it fell flat. If you do end up reading it, I hope you have a better time than I did!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    4.5 stars rounded up! Ruinsong is a brilliant dark fantasy that features enchanted songs and a slow-burn sapphic romance. The story follows two young woman. Cadence is the queen's new Principal singer who uses her magical songs to torture the queen's enemies (mainly the nobles). Remi, the daughter of a Viscount, wants nothing more than the queen's torturous reign to finally be over. There are so many things that I just loved about this book. The world building is lush and incredibly intricate. Th 4.5 stars rounded up! Ruinsong is a brilliant dark fantasy that features enchanted songs and a slow-burn sapphic romance. The story follows two young woman. Cadence is the queen's new Principal singer who uses her magical songs to torture the queen's enemies (mainly the nobles). Remi, the daughter of a Viscount, wants nothing more than the queen's torturous reign to finally be over. There are so many things that I just loved about this book. The world building is lush and incredibly intricate. The author takes her time immersing the readers into this world where you are entranced by the beauty of music but then jolted awake when the magic takes hold and destroys its beholders. It was amazing, frightening, and original. I loved the entire conversation surrounding queerness. There are those who are accepting (the mages) and those who aren’t (the nobles). There’s a scene where Remi laments about being noble born because she just wants to be able to walk around the market and wink at a pretty girl if she wants to. I thoroughly enjoyed both Remi and Cadence. Both of them are complex and fully developed. I loved their banter and chemistry. As far as side characters go, I wish that we would’ve seen more development for both Nolan and Ren. We only got snippets of both rather than the depth we see in some of the other characters. Lastly, I love that the author is transparent about race when describing the characters. The characters race is always mentioned first then the details of their appearance comes next. This is something that I wish that more authors would do. I can honestly keep talking about this one, so just pick it up and give it a try. Thank you to Fierce Reads for providing a review copy through NetGalley. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Boyd

    Ruinsong was one of my most anticipated releases for 2020, and it did not disappoint. I love when books don't assume sexualities and It was so refreshing to see the main characters be able to love whoever they want without clarifying. This sapphic slow-burn was filled with fantastic world-building, loveable characters, and a fascinating magic system. I will definitely be buying a copy on November 24th. Ruinsong was one of my most anticipated releases for 2020, and it did not disappoint. I love when books don't assume sexualities and It was so refreshing to see the main characters be able to love whoever they want without clarifying. This sapphic slow-burn was filled with fantastic world-building, loveable characters, and a fascinating magic system. I will definitely be buying a copy on November 24th.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kennedy The Bard

    wlw phantom of the opera retelling with MAGIC? yes, please! i have a few things that i'd like to say before beginning my review. first, i have never read The Phantom of the Opera, but i love the musical. i have no idea how accurate the musical is, so my connections may be off. second, this book has a fair amount of gore, but i think it's a great read if you can stomach it. there's a lot of torture (nothing too bad, but it can still be triggering to some), some of which involves burning, rib-crack wlw phantom of the opera retelling with MAGIC? yes, please! i have a few things that i'd like to say before beginning my review. first, i have never read The Phantom of the Opera, but i love the musical. i have no idea how accurate the musical is, so my connections may be off. second, this book has a fair amount of gore, but i think it's a great read if you can stomach it. there's a lot of torture (nothing too bad, but it can still be triggering to some), some of which involves burning, rib-cracking, and drowning. i'm not very great at TWs, so i suggest you check someone else's review out for that. alright, enough of my blabbering, and onto the review. the setting of Ruinsong is in bordea, a place where magic is sung. the magic system is awesome, and pretty well explained, although i was left wanting more at parts. this is where some of the Phantom parallels come in, with the whole "angel of music" thing, and whatnot. bordea is a queendom, and they worship two goddesses of music, odetta and adela. those goddesses gift children with magical song, which makes that child a mage. mages work for the queen, and if they aren't good enough, their magic is taken away. the queen is a tyrant, and we get to see exactly how awful she is in our reading experience. cadence, our protagonist, is a morally grey character who works for the queen. she struggles between self-preservation, and doing what's "right". her love interest, remi, is a noblewoman who wants to conspire against the queen. cadence's and remi's fates collide in an epic tale of survival, revenge, and love. this was a wonderfully told story, but there were a few issues i had. first, with the branding. this is a very loose Phantom retelling. there were a few parallels, but not many. second, the author felt the need to clarify every person's race. all side characters were referred to as "the white woman," or "the black man". i personally don't see the necessity behind telling every single character's race, especially in such a monotonous way. lastly, i feel a little confused. i wanted more from the world, and the magic system, and the politics. i was also confused by the ending. it's very possible that the author set this up for a sequel, which would answer a lot of my questions. the ending is incredibly satisfactory until the very last page, which is almost open-ended. i need answers! well, thanks for reading this poorly planned review; i hope it persuaded you to pick this up! chao! ----------------------------------------------------- dec. 22, 22%: "Sometimes I think about telling Mama... But then I think of Elspeth, and the look of disgust she gave me. I never want Mama to look at me like that... Maybe someday soon, I'll be able to trust my family with the truth about me. Just... not today." i will cry. we are going through the same crisis and i need to stop reading all of this stuff that's hitting different,,," ----------------------------------------------------- dec. 22, 3%: *surprised pikachu face* that did not just happen??? it's only the prologue, but that was INSANE

  12. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Tw: torture Ruinsong is a story about choices. About taking a stand, discovering the truth about our own power, and figuring out how to use it. To reject people's choices about who you are, and to let your voice be heard. Cadence knows loss. She knows poverty and what it sounds like when that voice in the back of your head is ignored. Remi feels the boiling beneath the surface and the (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Tw: torture Ruinsong is a story about choices. About taking a stand, discovering the truth about our own power, and figuring out how to use it. To reject people's choices about who you are, and to let your voice be heard. Cadence knows loss. She knows poverty and what it sounds like when that voice in the back of your head is ignored. Remi feels the boiling beneath the surface and the rage to fight. On the surface, they seem like they couldn't be more different, but could their friendship be a spark? When we are confronted with our own survival versus doing what is right, what would you choose? Where Ruinsong truly shines are the characters. The world is one of disparity and injustice, cruelty and spectacle. In a world where sacrifice always follows compromise, how can we continue to fight for a better world? For a sense of justice or security? Especially when our loved ones are in danger, when we know what the mud feels like beneath our feet, when do we take a stand? full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alexia

    I adored this book. From the prelude alone, I was like this is gonna be a great story. This story was dark and full of bones breaking and blood dripping which really added to the urgency of the rebellion. I liked the contrast between Remi who was willing to risk it all and went after what she wanted and Cadence who went with the flow and was scared of making too much of an impact. Cadence was tryna dismantle the master's house with the master's tools and that just doesn’t work. Nolan was one of I adored this book. From the prelude alone, I was like this is gonna be a great story. This story was dark and full of bones breaking and blood dripping which really added to the urgency of the rebellion. I liked the contrast between Remi who was willing to risk it all and went after what she wanted and Cadence who went with the flow and was scared of making too much of an impact. Cadence was tryna dismantle the master's house with the master's tools and that just doesn’t work. Nolan was one of my faves and wish we could have seen more of him just because he seemed like a lot of fun. Also don't get me started on my complicated feelings about Ren. One of my favorite elements of the story was the history about the goddesses and how their power flowed through the people. There was a lot of unexpected twists toward the end and the ending literally made me 😮. I would definitely give this one a read if you like romantic fantasy. *Thank you the publisher for the ARC. All opinions are my own*

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mishma Nixon

    Read my full review and chat with Julia Ember, and enter to win a hardcover of the book! What a year for dark, lush, and sapphic fantasies! 2020 has given some amazingly dark and twisted fantasies, and Ruinsong is a strong addition to that list! Told in the perspectives of two very different characters in the middle of a rebellion against a tyrant evil queen, the Phantom of the Opera retelling creates a world of deadly musical magic, the politics of class and power, and a world where choices Read my full review and chat with Julia Ember, and enter to win a hardcover of the book! What a year for dark, lush, and sapphic fantasies! 2020 has given some amazingly dark and twisted fantasies, and Ruinsong is a strong addition to that list! Told in the perspectives of two very different characters in the middle of a rebellion against a tyrant evil queen, the Phantom of the Opera retelling creates a world of deadly musical magic, the politics of class and power, and a world where choices hold so much weight – and consequences.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I really enjoyed this book. I loved the singing magic system and the main character, Cadence. This book had a lot of potential to do other things as well. I would've loved to see the expelled Mages use their magic through sign language (potential sequel idea please?) And I would've liked to see more characterization about the Queen, but all in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable, sapphic, very magical book that made me want to watch Phantom of the Opera again! I really enjoyed this book. I loved the singing magic system and the main character, Cadence. This book had a lot of potential to do other things as well. I would've loved to see the expelled Mages use their magic through sign language (potential sequel idea please?) And I would've liked to see more characterization about the Queen, but all in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable, sapphic, very magical book that made me want to watch Phantom of the Opera again!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Star Rating: —> 4 Stars This was a f/f HIGH FANTASY TREASURE !

  17. 4 out of 5

    ˗ˏˋliaˎˊ˗

    ahhh just noticed we now have a release date, i’m so excited for this!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    nora 🪐

    3.5/5 ☆ = 4- To be honest, Phantom of the Opera is not my favourite musical, and this book is a re-telling of that musical. Fortunately, there are minimal similarities. I will say that the singing magic aspects were great and intriguing. Yet, the world-building was somewhat lacking and the insta-love did definitely not work for me. I would have liked to see more of the antagonist thoughts and reasons. I will also say that Cadence was a really interesting characters. It was intriguing to follow he 3.5/5 ☆ = 4- To be honest, Phantom of the Opera is not my favourite musical, and this book is a re-telling of that musical. Fortunately, there are minimal similarities. I will say that the singing magic aspects were great and intriguing. Yet, the world-building was somewhat lacking and the insta-love did definitely not work for me. I would have liked to see more of the antagonist thoughts and reasons. I will also say that Cadence was a really interesting characters. It was intriguing to follow her development and how she tackles the world around her. Also, the author did this thing when introducing characters, they would be introduced as either white or black. I imagine it implies the skin colour. This leads to a lot of issues, like the fact that there are only "two" skin colours. One can only be black or white. But what about mixed people, or people who are not white or black. What happened to the people of colour? Moreover, it also made it more obvious that the majority of the characters in this book are white. I can only think of three or four black characters, and they were all side characters. Hmpf Over and out. -Nora<3 -- TW//torture, death, mentions of cancer and abortion, death of animal (off-page), grief, cutting of vocal strings, manipulation, body shaming, gore, blood

  19. 4 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    i get it, okay, everyone except one person in this world is white you don't have to mention it every five minutes (p.s. thanks for the fantasy homophobia lol) Rep: lesbian mcs, mc with dyslexia, Black side character CWs: torture, gore, animal torture and death i get it, okay, everyone except one person in this world is white you don't have to mention it every five minutes (p.s. thanks for the fantasy homophobia lol) Rep: lesbian mcs, mc with dyslexia, Black side character CWs: torture, gore, animal torture and death

  20. 4 out of 5

    cossette

    buddy read with robin 🤍 trigger warnings for: mentions of cancer, child abuse, animal death (the death itself is not on page but the scene of the main character discovering the animal is very graphic), blood, torture, vomiting. overall, a fast-paced read; highly enjoyable -- i loved the immersive world-building, the magic system & morally grey characters, but i think the romance wasn't developed as strongly. i also don't think it was as POTO-y as i expected, but since i'm not the biggest phantom buddy read with robin 🤍 trigger warnings for: mentions of cancer, child abuse, animal death (the death itself is not on page but the scene of the main character discovering the animal is very graphic), blood, torture, vomiting. overall, a fast-paced read; highly enjoyable -- i loved the immersive world-building, the magic system & morally grey characters, but i think the romance wasn't developed as strongly. i also don't think it was as POTO-y as i expected, but since i'm not the biggest phantom fan anyways i didn't really mind!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sahitya

    Probably more of a 3.5. CW: torture I’ve been very very excited to read Ruinsong since the first time I saw that gorgeous purple cover and to be honest, I didn’t even bother to read the premise in detail. I just knew I needed this book in my life. The world the author creates in this book is full of cruelty and fear, and it wasn’t always easy to read. The history of the world, the mythology of the goddesses and the song magic system, the backstory of the current Queen’s ascension and the hierarchy Probably more of a 3.5. CW: torture I’ve been very very excited to read Ruinsong since the first time I saw that gorgeous purple cover and to be honest, I didn’t even bother to read the premise in detail. I just knew I needed this book in my life. The world the author creates in this book is full of cruelty and fear, and it wasn’t always easy to read. The history of the world, the mythology of the goddesses and the song magic system, the backstory of the current Queen’s ascension and the hierarchy of the people in this world is also described wonderfully without ever feeling like an infodump and I found myself quickly get pulled deep into the story. As someone who loves singing despite being a bad singer myself, I loved the magic system even when it was used in grotesque ways. The plot itself wasn’t very complicated - its a straightforward tale of a tyrant queen and a brewing rebellion to overthrow her. This was mostly a character driven story and hence mostly full of inner monologues and conversations, rather than action. This did make the pacing feel quite slow and as if nothing much was happening, but then everything came to a head too quickly towards the end which felt too simple and unrealistic. Otherwise, the writing itself was easy to get through and while I’m not always comfortable diving into a new fantasy world via the audiobook, the narration of this one was very good and I never found it difficult to understand. The characters Remy and Cadence are definitely the backbone of this novel. Cadence maybe blessed with powerful magic but what she doesn’t have much is choice in how to exercise it. Her struggle with the tasks that she is assigned and what she is asked to overlook is palpable through the pages, and this theme of how much cruelty one can let go just to ensure one’s survival forms one of the main questions the author asks us through the story. Cadence is a very sympathetic figure and I could really empathize with her fear and her need to heal people after being forced to do horrible things. Remy on the other hand maybe part of the nobility that is reviled by the queen, but she still has a slightly privilege life and couldn’t always understand the struggle that Cadence was facing. I ofcourse understood her rage at the cruelties her family and her friends faced at the hands of the queen, but I also thought she was slightly harsh in judging Cadence for her choices at various points in the story. But Remy’s character arc highlights the other main theme of the story - how far will one go and sacrifice for the sake of protecting their family. Even when their friendship deepened and it looked like it was becoming something more, I wasn’t sure there was enough trust between them for a long lasting love. But I still enjoyed their interactions a lot and it’s nice to see more sapphic couples in fantasy. To conclude, this was an enjoyable standalone fantasy with a very cool singing magic system and two female characters with their own kinds of strengths, fighting back against an oppressive system. It maybe slow but this story of resilience and standing up to cruelty is definitely worth a read. But don’t mistake this for a romance novel - you’ll get to see the beginnings of a sapphic relationship but that’s not the crux of this story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A lush fantasy novel about song magic and fighting for what's right--even when you've been complicit in wrongdoing. In the Queendom of Bordea, music is magic-- at least for those gifted with it by the goddess. But for the Queen's Principal Singer, Cadence, her powers feel like more of a curse. At least, they have ever since she was taken in by the new queen and trained to become her chief weapon against the nobility. Now, her voice is used in shows of mass torture, used to keep the nobility livi A lush fantasy novel about song magic and fighting for what's right--even when you've been complicit in wrongdoing. In the Queendom of Bordea, music is magic-- at least for those gifted with it by the goddess. But for the Queen's Principal Singer, Cadence, her powers feel like more of a curse. At least, they have ever since she was taken in by the new queen and trained to become her chief weapon against the nobility. Now, her voice is used in shows of mass torture, used to keep the nobility living in fear. There's little other choice for Cadence, though, with the threat of being sent to the outskirts with her vocal chords being cut. No matter how much she hates hurting others, she knows she can at least ensure she makes things quicker and more painless than any of the queen's other singers would. But a rebellion is brewing, and when a childhood friend from the nobility becomes involved in a plot against the queen, Cadence has to decide once and for all where her loyalties lie. She'll either stand up to the queen or see the girl she loved--and maybe still loves--lost forever. I wanted more depth and nuance from this books in places and sometimes got frustrated with Remi for her hardline views on Cadence when she's clearly in such a difficult position, but I nonetheless enjoyed it quite a bit overall. Also-- bonus points for cute saphic romance and fat rep!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Fetters

    "Everyone knows that men aren’t fit to rule." Revolution or Silence? This was a unique and decent debut novel. A story of music that can hurt and cure you all the same was intriguing but there was a part of this book that bothered me. It got to me so much that I found myself distancing from the story after that. I know why it was placed in the book at that time because once you break the rules they hurt the ones you love the most. Understandable but I didn’t like it. What I did love was the charac "Everyone knows that men aren’t fit to rule." Revolution or Silence? This was a unique and decent debut novel. A story of music that can hurt and cure you all the same was intriguing but there was a part of this book that bothered me. It got to me so much that I found myself distancing from the story after that. I know why it was placed in the book at that time because once you break the rules they hurt the ones you love the most. Understandable but I didn’t like it. What I did love was the characters, good and/or evil, they were all well written and you felt their emotions when they were present. And I can’t help but love Queen Elene. She was so deliciously evil that it made me giddy with excitement. Another thing I liked was that the entire story was like nothing I’ve read before. It was really different and that makes for an even better story. What I was really hoping for was more of a backstory for some characters. I needed a deeper look at the life of Queen Elene and why she was so powerful and wicked. What made her snap and morph her into the person she currently is. That’s what I needed more of. Ruinsong was a decent read. This debut was strong and this author will only get better as time goes on. I’m excited to see what else she creates because this one was twisted and monstrous book. It just proves the lengths people will go to to save themselves and the ones they love.

  24. 4 out of 5

    ♡ jules ♡

    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Sapphic witches is my favourite current YA niche trend and Ember delivers on them here. The angst! The drama! The longing! I was here for every second of it. Ruinsong is told in the perspective of two girls, one who can create magic through song and one the daughter of a noble. Best friends in childhood, they find each other on opposite sides of a magical regime, with one being used as the tyrannical Queen's biggest weapon of suffering and destruction and the other being made to experience said s Sapphic witches is my favourite current YA niche trend and Ember delivers on them here. The angst! The drama! The longing! I was here for every second of it. Ruinsong is told in the perspective of two girls, one who can create magic through song and one the daughter of a noble. Best friends in childhood, they find each other on opposite sides of a magical regime, with one being used as the tyrannical Queen's biggest weapon of suffering and destruction and the other being made to experience said suffering to try and save her family. I love how unique the magic system, world, and villain motives were here! I do wish it was a tad longer but that has more to do with me wishing we had scenes of the main couple being cute and sweet since most of there scenes that start that way are cut off abruptly by the plot than actual pacing issues.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jade McElmury

    4.5 stars, i really liked this, its a nice wlw and im a sucker for unique magic systems so i definitely recommend it but look up the triggers for the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I loved this! It was dark, romantic and the world-building was subtle but strong. Would love more stories set in the universe tbh. I loved this! It was dark, romantic and the world-building was subtle but strong. Would love more stories set in the universe tbh.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    4.5 Stars Every element of the worldbuilding in this book stands in perfect harmony. Julia Ember's descriptions are beautiful and her magics are hauntingly deadly. Because Ember's writing is lyrical, her world is intriguing, and her characters are so dynamic, I wish there was more to come. Unfortunately, this is a standalone. Read my full review here: https://gatewaybookreviews.blogspot.c... 4.5 Stars Every element of the worldbuilding in this book stands in perfect harmony. Julia Ember's descriptions are beautiful and her magics are hauntingly deadly. Because Ember's writing is lyrical, her world is intriguing, and her characters are so dynamic, I wish there was more to come. Unfortunately, this is a standalone. Read my full review here: https://gatewaybookreviews.blogspot.c...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Miller

    While in some ways Ruinsong is a slow burn of a novel, the word count and world building are very welcome. Because of how lush the world of Ruinsong is especially concerning the logistics of magical song and class divides, I think this is one of those rare opportunities in which the audience needs that solid foundation. Ember delivered a gorgeous sapphic fantasy book for teens and up.

  30. 4 out of 5

    mary ❀

    4 stars. I really enjoyed the magic system in this book, with music literally becoming a form of magic. I was not as convinced by the world building with the social hierarchies and whatnot. I found this to be a short, enjoyable read, though lighter on the romance than I expected.

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