The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman #bookreview #YA #fantasy #magic #TuesdayBookBlog

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good.

Besides this stunning cover, I liked the idea of four estranged siblings having to work together to save their country. That it’s Indian-inspired was just a bonus.

For several reasons, these siblings grew apart, and one was even imprisoned for killing their mother, the former maharani. A couple years later when this story begins, each has formed an opinion of the others and made assumptions about them based on their actions. And each of them is wrong. Vira, Ronak, Riya, and Kaleb are all hiding secrets and have their own reasons, honorable or not, for needing to find the Ivory Key. I always enjoy sibling dynamics in novels and movies. In spite of their differences and suspicions, these four are still protective of each other. Like most siblings, they have their squabbles and hurl cutting remarks, many of which made me laugh. Strained as it may be at times, their family bond remains intact.

Their father was obsessed with finding the Ivory Key, but died before he could locate it. He passed on his knowledge to his children in a journal, but also trained them from an early age to solve riddles and puzzles. The siblings had no idea how valuable that training would become until their journey to find the Ivory Key has an Indiana Jones-esque feel with its booby traps and brain-teasers. All four have to rely on each other’s knowledge and memories to get them closer to their ultimate goal.

Four POVs may put off some readers, but I found the characters to be very distinct and was never confused about who was narrating. Each viewpoint is necessary to get a more accurate picture of the family dynamics and challenges each character faces. I didn’t see the shocking twist at the end coming – I actually had to back up a couple paragraphs – but when it happened it made perfect sense. Now I’m even more anxious for the second book.

If you’re a fan of character-driven fantasy, magical settings, puzzle-filled quests, and combative, humorous family dynamics, this is a book for you.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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