Parents' Guide to

The Crimson Fortress: The Ivory Key, Book 2

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Rushed finale, but magical world still worth rooting for.

The Crimson Fortress book cover: The book title is surrounded by turrets and archways decorated with large white flowers; A blue maze pattern surrounds the turrets

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While this finale feels too rushed, the magical world and royal sibling characters are still worth rooting for. The main issue in The Crimson Fortress is the alternating narration of the four siblings. It's hard to really land in any one character's perspective. When it's, say, Vira's chapter, she's on a dangerous misadventure, sparring with someone she doesn't trust, gets only a moment to process the mayhem, and then there are three chapters before readers are back with her. Everyone could have used more time.

It's hard to say what suffered more from the too-broad focus, the romances or the magical treasure-hunting adventures. Character-focused readers will want to know much more about Riya and Varun, and the tension between the Lyrian prince and Kaleb could be its own story. More fantasy-driven readers will wonder how Kaleb keeps having magical epiphanies, just in time, with little explanation. The maze and puzzles at the end seem more in the way of the final showdown than exciting. And the characters split up to tackle the dangerous maze -- another time, as with the chapters, when splitting up is not the best idea. It's a good thing to want more of author Akshaya Raman's characters and her magical kingdoms. Let's hope she delivers more in-depth stories from this world in the future.

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