Reviews tagging Torture

Ruinsong, by Julia Ember

15 reviews

sarah984's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0

I thought this was a really fun idea for a story, and the singing magic was cool. Everything was tense and the stakes felt high. Most of the characters were interesting.

However, the characters we spend our time focused on are probably the least interesting of the bunch. They spend a lot of time complaining and making impulsive decisions (and then complaining that people don't trust them not to make impulsive decisions) and you only kind of hear about other characters doing cool things in the background. The ending wraps up extremely fast so a lot of the victories don't really feel earned. I get the idea of noting every character’s skintone instead of making special note of who wasn't white, but it really drove home how white the core cast still was so I don't know if it helped.

Also this is a nitpick but if you're retelling Phantom of the Opera and you drop ZERO chandeliers? You're doing it wrong.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

briely's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

starccato's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark emotional hopeful mysterious sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.25


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

cameronreads's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.5

I really liked the magic system in here - using songs as spellcasting was super interesting and unique. I liked the world as well, and the author did a good job of showing just how awful the queendom was, although I would have liked to see more of the Expelled settlement. In fact, that whole section of the book could have been expanded on, in my opinion. I also would have liked to see more of the rebellion. I don't know if I just love books with loads of POVs, but for me it would have been cool to see from Nolan's POV (not just because he was my favourite character). In general, actually, I just felt like more could have happened. There were practically zero side plots, and considering this book is quite short for a fantasy it wouldn't have been any harm to add some, and I think it would have been helpful to expand the world a little more. Most of the book felt almost like build up, and I was actually expecting it to be the first book in a duology until I got to the end. However, I did really like how the plot progressed, and I was engaged throughout the story. It wasn't entirely unique as uprising plotlines, but the magic system brought something new to the table, and the fact that the nobles were discriminated against by the queen was unique as well. I liked that it was set in court, and that said court was pretty different from most you read in fantasy. 
I did really like the main cast, and both the queen and Ren were really interesting antagonists to read about. However, and this is complete personal preference, I did think the romance was a bit lacking. When I was expecting it to be a duology, I was really liking the idea of a slow burn, and thought the hints of romance were being done really nicely, but when I realised those 'hints' were the romance, I was a little underwhelmed. It could have been utilised really nicely and been a great side plot, but it was barely there at all. Again, that's personal preference, but still. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

booksthatburn's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark emotional sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

RUINSONG is a slow burn sapphic tale of falling in love under brutality, and daring to hope for a better future even after being groomed into complicity. The opening chapters are brutal, slowly but inexorably describing a reign of death and torture in which a powerful queen demands complicity and service in exchange for life. The plot is at least 90% slowly inching towards maybe doing something concrete about it while an ever escalating series of discomforts befall the main characters, then the ending is very dramatic and sudden. I refer it to a series of discomforts because the worst stuff happens around Cadence rather than to her (very early on bad things happen to Remi and then keep happening). There's a sense (usually backed up by dramatic asides and tales of woe) that much worse things are constantly happening somewhere to somebody, but since they aren't literally happening to Cadence she's been reluctant to try and change things. I don't have a great sense of what the revolutionaries want other than to not be tortured and killed by the Queen (this is, admittedly, a very sound basis for a revolution so it's okay that other demands aren't a focus of the narrative). I think that I personally prefer books with more specific political intrigue with their revolutions, but that's not what this book is trying to be. The romance is slow burn, since Remi and Cadence don't feel free to do much of anything, let alone broach the topic of being girls who like girls. It barely feels safe for them to be friends, since Remi's very proximity is being used to control Cadence. 

The worldbuilding is fine, it's not very complicated because the story invests its detail in the Queen and the two girls, and the people around them. One thing this portrays very well is emotional abuse and manipulation, and the way that a combination of threats plus unpredictable enforcement can be used to break someone down and make everything feel pointless. The story is about whether Cadence will finally have something that it's worth standing up for, and I appreciate how the story shows why she didn't fight for things before. Even if her reasons seem silly or you can imagine yourself doing more in her shoes (some of her fellow characters think they might have done more), the characterization is so well done to explain why she hadn't before, but without excusing what she's done and continues to do. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

spookynerd00's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

I thought the concept was beautiful, but I found the plot too rushed. The description made me think there would be more
SpoilerMore rebellion and actually plotting by both Remi and Cadence
. I found Remi a little annoying, and Cadence was alright but I did not love her. The romance was cute but could have been more developed in my opinion. And the ending was even more rushed than the rest of it. 
It’s an interesting world and enjoyed reading about it, but the world and magic system were the best part.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

iorelyn's review

Go to review page

dark emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

arithewizard's review against another edition

Go to review page

fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.5


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

lyonsdenprojects's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark emotional hopeful mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

This was an enjoyable story with interesting and sweet main characters. The magic system is what I probably loved most about it though there were some holes in the world building and the ending conflict seemed a little too easy after the build up to it. However I still enjoyed the journey and would gladly read another book featuring these characters. TW: The dog is killed. I hate being surprised by that in books and movies. The reactions of Cadence redeemed the story, but I did almost put the book down. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

yoda32's review against another edition

Go to review page

slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

Ruinsong tells the story of both Cadence- a mage for the queen who works her magic through song. We’re told multiple times throughout the book how powerful she is; but we don’t really see it until the end. 

On the outside she’s terrifying but on the inside, she’s an orphan who did the only thing she could to survive and hates herself for bowing to the ruthless queen. Cadence didn’t get as much growth as I expected from a stand alone. She hides and appears weaker than the queen but yet at the end she can miraculously perform a spell through a song that “just comes to her”. Okay.. 

Remy- born into nobality Remy had it all until Elena took the throne, and her family fled to avoid her wrath. However every year they’re forced to attend a lethal opera in which, the queen gets her starred mage to torture the nobility while they sit. Remy is fierce, brave, and the ex best friend of Cadence.

I think Remy is my favourite and yes it’s totally to do with the fact that she’s both a lesbian and fat. However, she makes the most idiotic decisions. I rolled my eyes so much because of her actions. 

The romance develops slowly- which I did like- but it seemed unrealistic and bland. 

The ending was meh and felt really modern in comparison to the 90 percent fantasy novel.
Spoiler For example- Remy’s mother- who is sick by the way, so she’s better??- is running for president and she’s handing out flyers. Hmm, okay  
 

Ruinsong had an interesting magic system, that I did like reading about, and characters that were fun if nothing else, but the plot and concept just weren’t executed as well as I expected. It sometimes read like the beginning of a series and for a stand alone novel- that’s not good. Furthermore,- this is a personal pet peeve- it took WAY too long for the events of the blurb to occur. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings