Review: “Onyx & Ivory” by Mindee Arnett

Out here, darkness meant death.

Onyx & Ivory, Chapter 1 opening

Author: Mindee Arnett
Publication Date: May 15th 2018
Genre: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Find it on: Goodreads

Synopsis

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.

The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime

From Goodreads

Review

Onyx & Ivory is a fantastic tale of magic, adventure, drakes, and slow burn heart achy romance. It’s YA which I don’t often read, but I was in the mood for a bit of romance without being drowned in it. Honestly an off-the-shelf with a cliche magic system and a sprinkling of chemistry between characters would have satisfied, but I was unexpectedly pleased with the unique wilder magic and how active the plot was. Mindee Arnett delivered. While this is a review of the first book, Onyx & Ivory, afterwards I went on to also read the sequel, Shadow & Flame, which tells you how hooked I was 🙂

In this book our main character Kate is strong willed but kind and relatable. Her wilder magic is both a blessing and a curse – enabling her to communicate feelings telepathically with animals and progress the story in powerful ways yet marking her as an abomination in this world. Corwin, once her dear childhood friend, turns distant as his destiny from birth tightens its grip. Their paths collide unexpectedly as the threat of nightdrakes mounts against the kingdom. They are compelled by duty to search for means to fend off the creatures, while Kate must weigh the risk of using her powers should the circumstances become dire.

Corwin and Kate were sweet together, not overly cheesy or drawn out as you may sometimes find in YA fantasy/romance. In my mind it balanced perfectly with the fantasy and magic elements – of which Kate’s wilder magic and the existence of nightdrakes probably tie for my favorite parts. The plot line kept powering forward, and the twist at the end was exciting (though perhaps a bit too short in length). My only nit was how easily Kate mastered changes in her power, but the book is already 500 pages so it seems impractical to suggest expanding it. On whole I’d recommend this as a fun YA fantasy if you’re looking for some sweet romance on the side that’s not overly heavy.

Background cover photo by Henry & Co. on Unsplash

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