Serena’s Review: “A Psalm of Storms and Silence”

Book: “A Psalm of Storms and Silence” by Roseanna A. Brown

Publishing Info: Balzer + Bray, November 2021

Where Did I Get this Book: from the library!

Book Description: Karina lost everything after a violent coup left her without her kingdom or her throne. Now the most wanted person in Sonande, her only hope of reclaiming what is rightfully hers lies in a divine power hidden in the long-lost city of her ancestors.

Meanwhile, the resurrection of Karina’s sister has spiraled the world into chaos, with disaster after disaster threatening the hard-won peace Malik has found as Farid’s apprentice. When they discover that Karina herself is the key to restoring balance, Malik must use his magic to lure her back to their side. But how do you regain the trust of someone you once tried to kill?

As the fabric holding Sonande together begins to tear, Malik and Karina once again find themselves torn between their duties and their desires. And when the fate of everything hangs on a single, horrifying choice, they each must decide what they value most—a power that could transform the world, or a love that could transform their lives.

Previously Reviewed: “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin”

Review: So, if you’ve read my review of “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin,” you will remember that I checked both of these out from the library at once. Very rarely do I get a chance to read books back-to-back like this. Either because I read the first one when it comes out and there is naturally a long wait. Or because I can’t get my hands on them both at the same time. But it’s always a fun experience to simply stay in one world over the course of two books. The first one followed a fairly straight-forward plot, but its interesting uses of West African culture and folklore kept me on board. Let’s see what the second one had to offer!

All of Karina’s worst fears have come to pass, the mutiny she had feared struck and she now wanders alone and hunted, desperate to reclaim her throne. But it soon becomes clear that Karina’s desire to return to her throne is not only important to her but to the entire country, for with the return of her sister as come chaos and disaster. Malik quickly learns that returning Karina to her throne is all that will resettle this disturbance. But, of course, their is the teensy problem of trying to get a woman you tried to kill to trust you once again and work alongside you.

Before we get into the real review, I just want to take this moment to love on the covers of both of these books. Rarely do I like covers that feature models, I think they’re usually too cheesy and draw to mind cheap covers of romance paperbacks of old. But I really like the cover for both this book and the first one. I think I probably like this one even more than the first. It’s great to see Malik, and Karina looks more like the powerful character I imagined.

Sadly, this book was a bit of a let-down. I had some concerns going in, considering one of my bigger complaints about the first book was the fairly bland and straight-forward writing style and plot design. This is always a bit difficult for me to review in these types of books, as I’m not the target audience, not being a young adult myself. However, while I think that perhaps a younger audience would be less turned off by this more plain style of writing and plotting, I do think that authors and publishers regularly underestimate their readers. Just because YA readers will read this book and maybe not be actively turned off by the simple writing (unlike me), I would theorize that they would greatly appreciate it more if the author challenged their abilities and expectations a bit more.

Mostly, I was disappointed with the direction the romance and characterization took for our two characters. I never enjoy a romance that has tension created and kept alive only by actively obtuse levels of determined noncommunication. Maybe just talk to each other?! I also have limited patience for wishy-washy trust issues of the sort we see here. It simply doesn’t feel natural to try to pair the level of interest/love these two are meant to feel for each other with the level of distrust we get from their mental dialogues and their unwillingness to communicate basic facts. It just doesn’t read as natural to have characters behave like this.

I was pleased enough with the ending, a bit expected, but it also felt like a natural fit for the story. So, while I personally didn’t really enjoy this duology on the whole, I do recognize that it may appeal much more to actual YA readers. The West African cultural elements and folklore were still very interesting, so I don’t regret checking it out.

Rating 6: A bit of a let down with a romance plot line that I generally don’t enjoy. But I’m also not the target audience, so take from my opinion what you will.

Reader’s Advisory:

“A Psalm of Storms and Silence” is on these Goodreads lists: 2021 Fantasy and Science Fiction Books by Black Authors and X of Y and Z.

Find “A Psalm of Storms and Silence” at your library using WorldCat or at a local independent bookstore using IndieBound!

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