Parents' Guide to

The Ivory Key: The Ivory Key, Book 1

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Royal siblings hunt for magic in exciting fantasy.

The Ivory Key

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 1 parent review

age 11+

Fun South Asian fantasy with lots of puzzles

The story follows 4 young adult royal siblings who overcome various estrangements from each other to save their country and fulfill their fathers's dream of uncovering the secrets of magic. Each chapter shifts to a different sibling's point of view which keeps the story telling fresh and allows the reader to see the various tensions at play for each character. The road to restoring magic includes a lot of logic puzzles. I liked the fantasy being set in ancient Indian culture and the pervasive cultural references. I liked that the royal line is matrilineal. I would recommend to middle grades or young adult fantasy fans.

Is It Any Good?

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Four estranged royal siblings are forced on a treasure hunt together in this exciting, magic-filled world that evokes ancient India. These brothers and sisters have quite a bit of team building to do before they can search for The Ivory Key and save their kingdom. One sister is a runaway living with a gang, one brother is trying to run away after he steals enough money, his twin sister is the maharani who makes bad decisions, and her other brother is the victim of one of those bad decisions, imprisoned for the assassination of the last maharani, a crime he didn't commit. When Vira, the maharani, finally admits to her family that the magic that protects their country is waning, they slowly begin to rely on each other to address the problem. These complicated family dynamics are explored well and you really get a sense that there's hope for them all to be close again.

But enough sibling squabbles, let's get to the treasure hunting! Debut author Akshaya Raman delivers the wonderful backdrops for piecing together one puzzle after another -- tunnels, ruins of monasteries, even whole abandoned underground cities. She also puts some fantastic obstacles in their way, both human and magical. And there's a deadline to get there: solstice, of course. Raman could have gone much bigger here, she could have lingered on puzzles and scenes and made her puzzles even more difficult to solve -- she wouldn't have lost her readers. Even though this part is rushed, it still sets up the finale well and leaves some pretty curious questions to ponder about what's real and not in this world of secret societies and magic.

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