Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett – Book Review

Rating: 2/5onyx and ivory

Genre: YA, fantasy

First published: 2018

Author: Mindee Arnett

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.

Animal magic and horse riding feature predominantly? Plus DRAGONS? I was excited. Sadly, I can’t say a lot of good things about this book, except that the author clearly knows about horses. Which as a horse lover, I enjoyed.

The concept was really cool. There was a cool world and cool magic. But the story was boring, mediocre and tropey and so were the characters. And I feel like that’s something very common in fantasy, particularly YA. People have these great ideas for a setting/magic system. But don’t have a good story to tell. If you don’t have a good story to tell, if you don’t have compelling characters, it doesn’t matter how cool your world is. It’s just going to be meh. It’s so obvious that the author didn’t really have a solid story to tell. So many things happen that make no sense. Characters do things, or don’d do things just for plot convenience. For example **minor spoiler ahead, if you want to avoid, skip the bold text*** Kate can control animals. She has always been able to. It’s second nature to her. She has also worked for some time as a relay person. And yet, it takes her most of the book to even think of trying to control the dragons that have been trying to EAT her throughout her entire relay career. That’s something that literally anyone else would have done instinctually. It was so obviously for plot convenience. 

Then there was, of course, the romance. Which wasn’t insta-love. I’ll give it that. The characters had a past. But it was otherwise so bad and clicheed and just uuuuuggghhh. I hated it especially that it just took over. And that’s another thing that happens when fantasy authors don’t have a solid story to tell. The story just becomes a romance masquerading as a fantasy adventure story.And I feel betrayed every time. Especially when it’s just not a good love story. It’s a boring one that I’ve read hundreds of times before. Instead of focusing on it, it could have focused on the dragons and on the cool tid-bits of the world that we got to see. Even just that would have made the book a lot better. It still would have lacked any substantial story, but at least I would have read interesting, unique filler, instead of a tired romance that I could not have cared less about if I tried.

I read this book quite a while ago and only just got to reviewing it. I intended to make this a mini review, but clearly I still feel very strongly about this book and how much it disappointed me, so it turned out into a full-length review. But yeah, to summarise, cool concept. Terrible execution.

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