Published by Balzer + Bray
Published on 2 June 2020
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
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The first in an immersive fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction—from debut author Roseanne A. Brown. Perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Renée Ahdieh, and Sabaa Tahir.
For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a heart-pounding course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?
I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I haven’t quite made it halfway through this book but I just really, really don’t care to continue. I planned on reading this during a week I took off from work, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It took me TWO MONTHS to decide to DNF this book, that’s how much I wanted to love it.
The concept is so freaking awesome I nearly lost my mind in excitement for reading this book. A soft cinnamon roll has to murder a princess, who in turn needs to marry a man (the roll) to make him a king before cutting out his heart to resurrect her dead mother? How AWESOME does that concept sound?
Unfortunately, I can’t stand to read any more. I am seriously bored, unengaged, the characters annoy me, the plot is boring, and I would rather clean my house than sit in my uber comfortable reading chair in my personal library snuggling with my cats to read this, which is obvs like my favourite thing ever.
I can’t stand Malik. He may be a soft cinnamon roll, but he is pathetic. He lacks courage, has a constant victim mindset, freezes instead of taking action and then beats himself up for it, and everything he has achieved so far has literally been handed to him. LITERALLY. He constantly makes bad decisions that have no consequence on him. I don’t want to read about a contest rigged by the author so that the hero comes out on top, I want to read about his struggle to overcome obstacles and then win by being smarter or more creative or stronger or faster or having a stronger will than his rivals. Why is he winning? Not through any hard work of his own, but because the author needs him to.
Similarly, I should love Karina. She is a warrior-poet, a gentle musician chafing at the confines of being a princess and the heir she was never meant to be, living in the shadows of her inhumanely perfect mother. She is growing more ruthless and preparing to marry and then murder the male victor of this competition. By all accounts I should think she is awesome. Except that I don’t. Nothing about her is compelling. She spends half of her time sleeping and the other half pining over dead people. I’m so fucking bored! I’m nearly half way through, and there is nothing compelling me to read on.
I want to love this because it’s literally black Aladdin and Jasmine except they need to kill each other, it’s like Disney but The Hunger Games and CAN YOU SMELL THAT CONFLICT. Fantasy is my jam, I am literally here for anything that has princesses and magic. So it’s not me, it’s this damn book.
Add on to a super intense worldbuilding that doesn’t let up and leaves you wondering what exactly these things that aren’t being explained are. It’s not engaging.
Also, I skimmed to the end and am still bored, even when the betrayals are flying all over the place! How is that even possible? I just DON’T CARE.