Reviews tagging Torture

Ruinsong, by Julia Ember

18 reviews

arithewizard's review against another edition

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

4.5


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lyonsdenprojects's review against another edition

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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. 

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yoda32's review against another edition

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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. 

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valpuri's review against another edition

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dark sad medium-paced
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

I was excited to read this, but sadly the book just fell flat towards the end and I struggled to finish it. I'm so disappointed that I can only give this one 2/5 stars. 

The concept of magic that is sung and a romance between two women that are on opposite sides of a rebellion are what convinced me to pick up this book, but it just didn't really deliver on either of those. There is very little world-building or character development, and the latter half of the book feels very rushed. :( The first half of the book is pretty good and promising... I just wish that there was something more to the end.

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sahibooknerd's review against another edition

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dark emotional hopeful tense slow-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

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. 

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coophone's review against another edition

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slow-paced
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated

2.75


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chrisamongthestars's review against another edition

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dark emotional reflective tense slow-paced
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

At least the sapphic romance was handled well. 

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caseythereader's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional hopeful sad medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

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. 📚

What I liked:
📚 Queer PHANTOM OF THE OPERA retelling? Yes, please!
📚 I loved the magic system here. I loved the idea of singing to marshal your magic, and that you could tell a lot about the mage by their voice.
📚 Such wonderful imagery, from the beauty of the Queen's stronghold to the horrors of the region where those expelled from the court are sent.
📚 The tension between the protagonists felt real - it wasn't insta-love, but also the barriers they faced weren't just pointless roadblocks. 📚

What I didn't like:
📚 It's a pretty basic YA dystopia setup. This isn't necessarily a knock on the book, just something to know going in.
📚 I do wish some pieces of the world's history and nuances of the magic system were more detailed - I could tell there was more in the author's brain that didn't make it into the book. 📚

Content warnings: alcoholism, blood, death, homophobia (mild), physical abuse, torture, violence, and vomit.

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