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‘Ivory:’ Book Review

Have you ever hidden under your bed with a flashlight, just so you could keep reading past bedtime, so you won’t get in trouble? A tradition, continued into adulthood. You keep telling yourself,  “I’ll stop at the end of this chapter,” but then, at the end of the chapter, you have to know what is coming next. “Just one more chapter. I promise, this time, just one more chapter.” But, it never ends, does it? Next thing you know, it’s dawn, you’ve finished the book, and you can’t tell which feeling is stronger: pure exhaustion or an overwhelming sense of loss that your new friends and their world is gone forever. You no longer can share in their adventures, their story is over, but you must go on without them, because your life story is still being written.

Ivory is that book, the book that keeps you up to all hours of the night unable to put it down, fully immersed in its world. For those of you that love fantasy and folklore, as well as hopeless romantics, this is a book to put on your bucket list. What draws me to a fantasy or sci-fi novel is the creation of a world and culture completely different from our own. In a good novel, every page you turn, you escape to somewhere far away from all the problems and pains of your own life. You can be anything, anyone. You get so engrossed in the novel, you forget your own reality.

I may get hate mail for saying this, but I have never been a fan of Tolkien’s writing style. Don’t get me wrong, I love the characters and stories. But, he takes so much time creating the world’s history through maps and exposition, he takes away the fun part for the reader of imagining the world through every page, seeing the world through the characters’ words, and the reader’s mind. F.M. Sherrill does not waste any time with exposition. She jumps right into the thick of action with our lead character, Ivory, battling a Lec, or Lectron (a creature similar to what we know as vampires). Lectrons gain their strength from the moon and cannot survive in sunlight; their skin boils and turns to ash. The people of Grythian, where our lead character hails from as Queen, are weakened by the dark and live only in the sun. They have even gone as far as to create orbs of light throughout their kingdom, so there is never darkness. These two species, complete opposites, are at war, a war that has raged for years over the murder of Ivory’s parents (the former King and Queen) at the hand of a Lec.

F.M. Sherrill reveals the truth to the reader as it is revealed to our heroine, Ivory. There is no time for exposition with battles, plots, and twists, and, because there is no narrator and we only know as much as Ivory does, we, the reader, are equally susceptible to false alliances, deception, confusion, and mistrust. At times, every page I kept switching who “the bad guy” was – I was never truly sure what was reality or a dream and who was honest to Ivory. I felt her pain, fear, passion, and resolution to fight for her life and her people. The author uses such languid descriptions of the characters’ thoughts and their sensations that the senses come off the page. Your mouth waters as you smell the food served at a banquet, your heart beats a little faster with Ivory’s anticipation and stimulation as her beloved leans in to whisper in her ear. You smell the stench of boiling flesh as a Lec is exposed to sunlight or killed in battle and feel the cold stones of the Lectron King’s tower on your fingertips as Ivory runs her hands against the carved etchings on the tower walls. And, every time a Lec feels passion or anger, you see the glow of their eyes as they change colors – purple, teal, black, red, leaving you right there standing your ground while holding your own breath in fear, just as Ivory does, ready to defend yourself at any moment.

My only fault with the book is that I felt the ending was rushed. So much time and detail was taken into revealing the world’s true history to Ivory and her people that to have the final “battle” only last one chapter, if that, felt too easy. Ivory deserved a better victory, and, as a reader, I felt I deserved more time with the ending. I had invested so much time already, I wanted an epic battle worthy of the character I had grown to love and admire. The villain was built up to be so strong that I was surprised how easily he was defeated and how quickly such an unconventional story became the stereotypical “happily ever after.” I, however, did like that the author left some questions unanswered, leaving room for a sequel, even possibly a series, which would be my hope. This is not just an entertaining, fun read, it is an extraordinary novel, with fully fleshed out characters, twists and turns, vivid imagery, passion, and heart. Ivory is a heroine to fight for, to aspire to, but she also has faults and fears that make her even more endearing and transcendent. She is a true warrior, one that displays an aura of stoicism, and yet we know her internal turmoil, turmoil she eventually shares, revealing even more strength. Maybe if more warriors, heroes, and heroines where written this way, children would not grow up thinking it is weak to have and show emotions. Through the novel Ivory and its heroine, F.M. Sherrill shows how emotions give us our strength and ultimate power.


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