No spoilers in this review of Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh! I give it 3.75 stars. I thought the plot was simple overall, yet there were some small twists and turns that kept me guessing as the tale unfolded. The prehistoric setting was the most attractive thing about the whole book to me.
The story centers on Kol, a young man growing up in a clan with no girls close to his age. For the small tribe to continue, Kol and his three younger brothers need to find mates from other clans. It’s a big concern for Kol’s parents because they want to ensure not only the well-being of the clan but also the longevity of their family’s leadership. They come into contact with two other tribes, each with eligible young ladies, over the course of the book. But past conflicts interfere with some of the potential relationships. It is of utmost importance for Kol, the oldest son and thus the future High Elder of their clan, to find a wife and start a family. Yet it seems it is hardest of all for him to find a potential mate.
Ivory and Bone takes place during a time in history when there were no luxuries. These clans spent their life in survival mode, hoping for adequate food, warm clothing, and decent shelter on a day to day basis. While we’re not told the exact whereabouts of the characters, they live somewhere in the brutal north. I could almost feel the cold Esbaugh described in certain parts of the book and sense the desperation of the people as they searched for adequate food and shelter.
Kol definitely grew on me over the course of the book. I was skeptical about one of his potential matches, Mya. She seemed like she might ultimately be the one for him, yet I wasn’t sure I liked her and didn’t understand her attitude. Yet overall, I liked how Eshbaugh slowly unraveled the small mysteries surrounding these three clans and explained the intentions of several of the secretive characters.
I recommend Ivory and Bone if you’re in the mood for a book mostly driven by love stories. The book contains some action and adventure, but the core of the story centers on the need to find matches for Kol and his brothers. I consider the book to be true YA, and it sets itself apart with its unique setting and goals for its main characters. While I got a slow start on this book, I read the last half of it quite rapidly as the intensity ramped up a bit. I am excited for book two, Obsidian and Stars, to see what’s next but am surprised to see its description on Goodreads. It’s going a direction I didn’t expect, yet I am excited to see what’s next for Kol and company!
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