This is a book I definitely wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but it came as the second bonus book in my January Illumicrate box, so I thought why the heck not. And it was pretty good! Not great, but good.
The book follows four estranged royal siblings in the made-up country of Ashoka who set off on a quest to find a magical item that will save their country. One of them is the ruler, one of them is in prison for killing the former ruler (even though he is innocent), one is resentful and is preparing to run away, and one is returning from having run away to a rebel group two years before. All four of them have different reasons for wanting the Ivory Key.
This was overall fine, but it never really got my emotions going. In large part I think this is because the story wasn’t particularly well-structured or paced in order to show off and highlight its strengths. Over half the book is gone when they finally set out on their quest, which is not developed enough to really be intriguing. There was also a lot going on in terms of characters and worldbuilding to set up in the beginning, and none of it really stuck. I still didn’t really feel comfortable in the world by the end of the book.
One great thing about it is that a huge percent of the characters, both main and secondary, are queer, and casually so. It’s no big thing to be gay or bisexual in this society, which I thought was neat. A good fortuitous read for Pride month that I didn’t realize before going into it.
This wasn’t a bad book, but it could have been way better. I will definitely be reading the second book in the duology; it showed a lot of promise.