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Onyx & Ivory by MIndee Arnett

BOTTOM LINE: I shouldn’t have liked it as much as I do, but I sort of adore it.

Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult
Publication Date: 15 May 2018
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.”

My Thoughts: The last thing I need is yet another trilogy in which to get entangled. There are plenty of existing trilogies I have started but have not yet finished after all. Yet, when I see a young adult novel in the fantasy genre talking about magic and mythical beasts and power struggles, I am helpless to resist.

It is not as if Onyx & Ivory is a fantastic novel. It offers nothing new for the genre. Kate is like so many of her predecessors – unfairly convicted, forced to hide her true self, mourning the loss of Daddy. This particular heroine has become as ubiquitous as the Disney princess.

The story too is redundant with its power struggle between those with acceptable magic and those with “other” magic skills as well as the power struggle between those who think they have the power and those who actually wield it. The story follows such a familiar story structure that there are no twists to catch you unawares.

Plus, Onyx & Ivory is predictable. Even a reader with a modicum of familiarity of previous stories will be able to decipher this darker menace and new threat well before our heroes do. It actually became a game I played with myself – to see just how many of the big surprises and how much of the plot I could guess before it unfolded.

Yet, in spite of every reason for me to hate the novel, I ended up adoring it. I just can’t help it. I love the fact that there is no love triangle. I love the interplay between characters, their strong bonds to each other, and their dynamic within the greater novel. I love the choices they make – however predictable. I enjoyed the story itself, and the predictability became a comfort rather than a deterrent.

I suspect that I am not going to be alone in my adoration for Onyx & Ivory. Ms. Arnett can write a story which captures your imagination. Her descriptions are well-written, and the unfamiliar world comes to life with little effort of the imagination on the reader’s part. Kate and Corwin are so sweet in their love for each other, and I appreciate how quickly Ms. Arnett ends the angst that tends to follow such relationships. Onyx & Ivory may not be overly original or groundbreaking, but it is a solid story with great characters that allows you to ignore that which should bother you and focus instead on all of its goodness. I am eager to see what Ms. Arnett has in store for readers in the next novel.

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