Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee ArnettOnyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett
Narrator: Kristine Hvam
Series: Rime Chronicles #1
Published by HarperAudio
Published on 15 May 2018
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Royalty, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Source: my local library
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RRP: $29.99
4 Stars

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.

I really enjoyed this book from Mindee Arnett.

When I borrow books from my local library, as I did for this audiobook, I often don’t bother looking them up on Goodreads beforehand because it’s not a monetary investment, so the only thing I’m st to lose if I don’t like it is time.

So I was completely unaware that Mindee Arnett had already written The Nightmare Affair and Avalon. If I had been able to make that connection, it wouldn’t have surprised me that Arnett is a completely capable writer and has a very strong sense of plot and story, driving the narrative with high stakes from the very first page and not letting go until the very last page.

In fact, I found this book reminiscent of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, even though it’s not set on an island, because of the strength of the two protagonists, and Kate’s strong relationship with horses.

In this book, Kate Brighton, a highly skilled horse-riding royal courier, is shunned from society because of the actions of her father, who years before, was accused of attempting to murder his best friend the king. Kate left behind her privileged life and the love of her life, second Prince Corwin, to start anew. However, she’s infamous, and when she runs across Corwin again after he survives a drake (flightless dragon) attack, their paths become entangled as Kate strives to uncover the questions about her father and her forbidden wild magic, and Corwin faces a ritual against his older brother to decide the heir to the throne.

I felt that this novel had a really good sense of plot and motivation for our two leads, Kate and Corwin. Each had their own shit to deal with, but we got plenty of moments between them as they struggled with their ongoing, renewed feelings for each other and the unspoken gap of years between them since Kate’s self exile. They were driven by their own goals and their romance, although highly enjoyable, didn’t seem to really take centre stage. I wouldn’t call this a fantasy romance or a romantic fantasy, just a high fantasy with a romantic element.

Corwin was a competent, caring, but primed leader, ready to take action to do what was right, and with a strong sense of justice. Kate was a feisty, strong, competent young woman who totally didn’t deserve to be called a traitor just because of her father. In fact, I was so against her ‘Traitor Kate’ moniker that I didn’t think it worked particularly well: it literally doesn’t make sense to me and Arnett was unable to convince me why and how other people feel this way about Kate. I mean sure, it’s easy for people to jump on a bandwagon, especially when it comes to hate (I mean hello racism, a concept that also literally doesn’t make sense), and I did try to understand, but in the end I failed . It would have been more convincing for me if Kate was harassed and bullied just because she was a rare female rider in a misogynistic society.

In Zenith by Sash Alsberg, I had a similar feeling towards Androma being accused of treason after an accident killed her best friend. Androma kept saying it was a ‘mistake’, not an ‘accident’, and everyone said she murdered her BFF but like, she didn’t? And in this same way, Kate isn’t a traitor.

I really liked the magic system and how it was split into the illegal wilder magic and the legal mage magic. The wilder magic didn’t work when the sun went down, and that’s when the drake come out to attack, so people live in walled cities protected by mages while wilders are hunted down for illegal magic use – or more importantly, the potential for illegal magic use – in a terrifying Inquisition. The world is really fucked up and the king isn’t doing anything about it because since Kate’ father attacked him he’s been kind of fucked up in the head. So it’s up to Corwin, who would make a great king but doesn’t believe he would, up against his brother whom everyone is already treating like the king. The only downside I feel was that the book couldn’t decide if the main plot was Kate investigating her father or the threat of the drakes upon the populace.

I felt like this novel perfectly blended plot, worldbuilding, tension and pacing, romance, and even flashbacks to provide important information we missed before the story started. I really liked both Kate and Corwin, and their friends, who became a kind of Scooby gang which is one of my favourite things in YA literature. I also really enjoyed the audiobook narrator, Kristive Hvam, and I’m keen to listen to the sequel


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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