Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 4/5 stars
Category: YA, romance, fantasy
Trigger: anxiety, panic attack
Hello Readers, welcome back to my blog.
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 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?
Malik’s people have been despised by the rest Ziran for centuries. He and his sisters are refugees, drifting and seeking work in Ziran. Malik has always been told that magic doesn’t exist and that the wraiths he sees are a figment of his imagination. When his younger sister wins a prize that requires payment from a spirit, he can no longer deny that he has been right about magic all along. The spirit demands his sister as payment for the favour won but Malik strikes a bargain with the spirit. He will kill the princess of Ziran in exchange for his sister’s freedom. How will Malik get into the palace to accomplish his task? He becomes one of the seven champions that will compete for the chance to have their Alignment rule the next era of Ziran.
Karina is a princess of Ziran. She and her mother are the last Royal after the fire that killed her father and elder sister a decade ago. She wasn’t brought up to rule and has always looked forward to the day she will leave Ziran and discover the rest of the world. What could go wrong with her plan? Her mother tells her that there is magic that binds the Royal family to Ziran and they can never leave. She is not close to her mother and they both grieve their loss in different ways. Karina’s mother is killed before her eyes and she is thrust into a position she did not train for and is not interested in.
Both Malik and Karina suffer from anxiety; Karina has migraines and Malik gets immobile and freezes which can cause him injury depending on where he is. They are fire and water in terms of personality; with Karina being fire and Malik water. It has a lot to do with their upbringing as well. Malik is the middle child, who feels he is always creating trouble for his siblings and Karina is the last of 2 daughter and she feels she can’t measure up to her sister who was born to rule.
The magic system is not introduced to the story until more than half way through the plot. I love the way the author has woven the world building into the plot of the story and the characters show more personality as we move in and out of Malik and Karina’s POV. We get to see the story progress from 2 different POVs and most of the time they are not together so we really get to experience Ziran to its fullest because with each POV we see a different side of the city and the people around the main characters.
I gave 4 out of 5 stars. For the past 2 months I have been reading stories which have some African inspiration behind them. I loved how this story was woven and the fact that both main protagonists are black. I loved the magic system and the complicated mess of emotions both characters experience; and I can’t wait for the next instalment.
If you like this review and are interested in reading this book, you can purchase it using the links below:
Waterstones (UK) – https://tidd.ly/3Bp4QgL
Book depository (Free shipping worldwide) – https://tidd.ly/3oFfInb
Audible (audio books) – https://tidd.ly/3DmXzii
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