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Early Review: Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

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Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett // VBC ReviewOnyx and Ivory
Mindee Arnett
Published: May 15, 2018 (Balzer+Bray)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

No one knows exactly what prompted Kate Brighton’s father to attempt to murder the High King of Rime three years ago. Some suspect a disagreement regarding the Inquisition of the Wilders—those born with forbidden magic—but it’s a secret Kate’s father took to the grave upon his execution.

Now in exile, and known as Traitor Kate, she’s a member of the Relay—think pony express—and the biggest thing she has to worry about, besides keeping her secret of being a wilder, are the Nightdrakes; flightless dragon-like creatures. That is, until she runs into her childhood friend and former love Corwin, the second son of the high king, when she saves him from an attack of Daydrakes.

In Rime succession does not always fall to the oldest in line for the crown, but to whomever wins the Uror—a ritual made up of various trials to determine who is truly worthy to rule. Marked by the appearance of a uniquely colored animal, Corwin has no desire to go up against his brother, so he sets off on a peacekeeping tour of Rime when Kate saves him from certain death.

As Kate and Corwin begin to figure out what really happened three years ago, they’ll be faced with a new and even more powerful threat to the entire Kingdom of Rime. To survive, it’s time for the wilders to come out of hiding.

Mindee Arnett’s Onyx and Ivory speaks a lot about the sins of the father and accountability. On one hand you have Kate who is ostracized on account of the act her father purportedly committed. On the other you have the wilders who come by their magic by accident of birth, and yes there are some bad seeds, but by no means should an entire group of people be persecuted for the actions of a few. Mindee Arnett handles these issues with a light touch. They’re unavoidable issues, but the path the story leads us on feels natural and not forced.

I liked the infusion of magic into the story, however, I felt like the lines were a bit blurry on what makes someone a wilder as opposed to a member of the Kingdom sanctioned Mage League. I don’t think it was ever made clear whether mages came by their magic naturally, like wilders, or if they are all taught via the use of incantations and/or spells. There were a couple of instances where I felt like the rules of the world building were made up as a convenience to a plot point, such as magic not working at night. This tidbit felt haphazardly thrown in there to create more conflict or to cast an even grimmer outlook upon nightfall such as with the appearance of Nightdrakes.

I did like the romance between Corwin and Kate. Despite the potential for their past to create a lot of angst between them, they have a pretty mature relationship. I liked both Corwin and Kate as individuals so having them have romantic feels for one another was like icing on the cake. I think it’s in the romance where Mindee Arnett hooked me and made some surprising decisions, especially when it came down to Kate revealing her long-held secret to Corwin.

Overall, I found Onyx and Ivory to be an entertaining read. Besides some of the questionable world-building up to this point, I know there’s still more to learn, and I look forward to expanding upon what was started here.

Sexual content: kissing, references to sex

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