The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman (372 pages)
An Empire On The Brink Of War and The Magic It Needs to Survive
Ashoka has always depended on magic as its main physical resource, used for exportation and to protect the borders from enemies. With the dwindling supply of magic however, the Ashokan empire is in trouble. The situation is made more difficult when the previous Maharani is murdered, the old quarries used to export magic are lost, and the remaining royal family members’ are estranged from one another. Vira, the current ruling Maharani, has a country to save but no resources to protect it. Ronak, her twin, has gotten himself into illegal businesses as a means of escape from the world he was born into. Riya the youngest sister had abandoned her family and joined rebel forces. And Kaleb, the oldest, is in prison, accused of murder. Only one thing can unite them: finding the Ivory Key—a mythical, mysterious object that has long been rumoured to lead to more magic. Each with hidden agendas, they join forces for the greater good. They follow clues left behind by a secret society, cross over into enemy territory and hope that their search is fruitful.
The Ivory Key is The Perfect Blend of Magic and Indian Culture
A debut novel about magic, inspired by the author’s Indian heritage? Sign me up! Akshaya Raman weaves in beautiful elements of her culture from the food, to the architecture, to the jewellery and weapons used—I was hooked from the start. Among the first things to stand out to me was the normalization of lead female roles. In fact, the female characters in this novel are strong, fiercely independent and stubborn (to their detriment at times) which is always refreshing to see in Young Adult (YA) novels.
I appreciate how Raman explores the relationship between siblings and what it means to be loyal. These characters have harboured major resentment toward one another but have a rich history that binds them together. They each have a unique personality which defines them, and the dynamics of their relationship with each other drives this story. The multiple point-of-view approach gives insight into each character’s decision making, which adds exciting layers to this narrative.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
The Ivory Key is the perfect book for all lovers of YA fantasy. Filled with magic, adventure, and a bit of romance, it is bound to have lovers of this genre hooked from the start. The blend of personalities from the Robin Hood-esque sibling to the more cautious, maternal one really adds layers to this already zestful book. The plot twist ending leaves you wanting more, and thankfully this is a duology! Part two cannot arrive soon enough.
YA fantasy book would you recommend we dive into next? Let us know!
Maiya Alismaili is a 34 year old bookacholic who currently resides in Ottawa. With a background in Human Resources and Psychology, you will often find her people watching. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she will likely be exploring the town for new bookstores, rewatching Gilmore Girls, or cleaning to 80s music.
Favorite Book: A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry
Favorite Brunch Spot: Cafe Cristal