Arc Review: Land of Sand and Song by Joyce Chua

Title: Land of Sand and Song
Author: Joyce Chua
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: August 31st, 2021
Publisher: Penguin Random House SEA
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the author for reaching personally and asking if I would review! All opinions are my own.

“Legend has it that a magical spring lies dormant in the heart of the Khuzar desert. Said to be a gift from the gods, the spring holds the cure to all mortal woes.

As mercenaries from everywhere try in vain to find the mystical spring, 17-year-old Desert Rose is on the run after her chieftain father is overthrown and captured by rebel clans. Now out for revenge, she sets out alone to the Oasis Capital to assassinate the person instigating the rebellion: the corrupt Emperor Zhao, who will stop at nothing to possess the elixir of life from the spring.

To infiltrate the Imperial Guard, Desert Rose must pass a series of trials to test her wit, mettle, and her loyalty. But the real test lies in navigating the cut throat court politics with no ally but a rogue prince and a latent magic stirring in her – magic that can bring a kingdom to its knees or destroy her from within.

LAND OF SAND AND SONG is the first of an East Asian-inspired series.” (Goodreads)

I hadn’t heard of this one until the author reached out to me on Instagram but I am glad that it was brought to my attention. It was a fun and thrilling read that had me wanting to keep picking it up every chance I had!

The book is split into three point-of-views: Desert Rose, Wei, and Meng. Each new chapter has the character’s name at the top for who the chapter belongs to which makes it easy to understand the switch. I can’t say that I have a favorite as I liked each one for different reasons. It’s easy to see certain parallels between Desert Rose and Wei. They both have dealt with betrayal in some way. They are also trying to save the ones they love. Family is important to both but it is also important to Meng too. Because of this, lines are drawn and sometimes the decisions they make cause more harm than good.

There are minor characters that I liked as well that added to the plot and would also reappear for shock value which kept me intrigued. I feel like a few will have bigger roles in the next book and I can’t wait to see where their plot points go!

The pacing for the book is really good and I felt like there were no lull moments. The action starts right away so it is easy to fall into the book and continuously read to find out what happens next.

There is a lot going on with the plot but it mostly circles around politics. Politics play a big role and there is a sense of distain for refugees when it comes to who is allowed in the capitol city. It mirrors a lot of what goes on in our own world. People are afraid of what they don’t understand or know and in this case it involves magic and those who wield it and yet the emperor strives to find a magical pool. The plot also brings up found family, especially for Wei, and how sometimes blood means nothing for certain people.

The book is filled with plot twists that I didn’t see coming and had me shocked! I did question a certain character a lot and their last chapter ended on a very interesting and surprising cliffhanger. By the end I’m still not sure about them as I feel like they are more or less doing it for the right reasons but making the wrong decisions to get there. You could say that there are a few hints of maybe a relationship in the works and maybe there will be more to it in the next book.

Overall, I enjoyed this one and I can’t wait to see where this series goes!

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