A review by bookswithmaddi
Ruinsong, by Julia Ember

3.0

* Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Ruinsong is a wonderfully built majestic book with a fantastic magic system that transports you to a world where music is magic. We follow Cadence, a singer for the queen who grew up an orphan until her powers were realized. Cadence is forced to use her magic to torture the subjects of the country. With no choice but to obey the Queen she continues the queen's evil reign over the country. In comes Remi, a noble who lives out of the city with her mother and father, and Cadence’s childhood best friend. When circumstances cause their paths to align again they must work to overcome their differences and overthrow the queen. Sparks fly as undiscovered feelings rise up between the two, they might get more than just freedom from this journey.
Ruinsong was stunning. I, of course, was drawn in by the beautiful cover. But it was the plot which caused me to request it on Netgalley. I’ve been trying to read more Sapphic novels so this was a perfect choice! The magic system is definitely my favorite part of this book, it’s absolutely fascinating and so unique! It reminded me slightly of the magic system in This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, but there were also elements that reminded me of the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I think overall the world building was the best part of this book. Although we didn’t learn too much about the world outside of the country that Cadence and Remi live in, there was a nice establishment of a religion and a reason for the magic system. I thought the magic was also really nicely developed. It made sense and wasn’t too complicated but also retained a sense of whimsy and uniqueness.
My main critique of this book is the pacing and characters. The book definitely has a slow start, the main plot doesn’t occur until a little over halfway through the book which made it a little difficult to get through at first. Overall, the plot was a bit predictable but still had twists that I could appreciate with the added intrigue of the magic system. As far as the characters, they didn’t feel very developed to me. Cadence and Remi were reasonably well mapped out but they fell into some pretty predictable and stereotypical roles. I wish there had been a bigger cast. While there were some other characters none of them made a huge impact and some felt unnecessary and seemed to just be plot devices.
While I do have some critiques of this book I still highly recommend it. I think it can definitely be enjoyed by a younger audience and the diverse representation is always very appreciated!