The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso is the debut novel of a new fantasy series. The book follows Ryx, the granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, who is afflicted with broken magic. Where her family’s magic brings life, her magic only causes death and destruction. On the night of an important peace conference, she accidentally kills a snooping delegate and activates a mysterious magical artifact all in one fell swoop.
This is a story full of politics, intrigue, magic, and mayhem which made it a pretty damn engaging read. However, I found that some of the scenes and characters tended toward melodrama. I didn’t think that all of the characters reacted realistically within their circumstances. There were definitely multiple villain monologues with characters that weren’t always particularly complex (like the Shrike King).
I thought that the main plotline around the magical artifact and Ryx’s grandmother’s disappearance were interesting, but it often felt like the other plot threads interfered with the story. Some plotlines could have been better developed, while other felt unnecessary.
You often find me complaining about young characters, but I didn’t have that issue in this book. I liked that Ryx had an area of expertise/experience and wasn’t magically an expert in everything. There were many scenes where Ryx didn’t know the best path forward and was out of her element. Her rag tag group of friends similarly all had unique areas of expertise. This was definitely a story about teamwork and friendship, rather than a story about one character who is ultra-smart and ultra-powerful.
However, I also think too much of the story involved Ryx being unsure and out of her element. I don’t think her expertise in politics and diplomacy shone through in her actions. It would have been interesting to see how she really worked to bring an agreement between the two states without being constantly undermined.
While I did enjoy The Obsidian Tower overall, I was not a fan of Caruso’s writing style. Some of the writing felt quite amateur. It didn’t detract from the story too strongly, but I was drawn out of the story a couple of times.
I would definitely recommend The Obsidian Tower to fans of YA fantasy looking to branch out toward adult fantasy. I think the voice and characters would appeal to an older YA audience. I wouldn’t recommend it to people looking for a more mature story.
Rep: Ryx is bisexual with a romance with a man, there is an asexual side character, a non-binary side character, and a sapphic side character (other sexualities are not referenced).