The Crimson Fortress (Akshaya Raman) – Book Review

Thanks to the slowly-diversifying world of YA fantasy, more and more writers are able to tell their stories in wider platform, drawing upon their own experiences and rich cultural backgrounds. One such writer, Akshaya Raman, is back with the sequel (and concluding part) to The Ivory Key, a popular fantasy inspired by South Indian mythology and culture, about four brothers and sisters, members of a kingdom in threat of decline, as they deal with magic, peril, and politics.

Raman’s sequel to The Ivory Key, the enigmatically-titled The Crimson Fortress, follows the quartet of royal siblings from the first novel as, briefly reunited and now scattered once more, they try to look out for one another while also furthering their own dreams and plans. Ostensible queen Vira wants to save her kingdom, while dealing with political turmoil, while sister Riya is dealing with a sudden influx of power that could prove dangerous. Their outsider brother Kaleb is investigating a potential threat to the kingdom while undercover, and their other brother, the artistic and moody Ronak, is trying to keep everyone united.

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Following the events of The Ivory Key, Raman had an unenviable task on her hands, juggling four co-protagonists with their own arcs and journeys, and it’s therefore a delight that not only does she pull this off in The Crimson Fortress, giving each of the siblings their own romantic interests, enemies, and allies, all of whom intersect across the novel, but also doesn’t sacrifice plot nor action. This, in particular, is evidenced by the final stretch of the book which manages to skilfully blend intense action sequences, emotional payoffs, twisting character motivations, and a deeply pleasing finale.

A sequel that improves upon its predecessor, The Crimson Fortress proves a satisfying and cathartic payoff to the characters of The Ivory Key and is a thrilling, emotive end to our four leads’ journeys while also securing Raman’s place as a YA fantasy scribe to keep firmly on your radar.

The Crimson Fortress is out on 14th November from Hot Key Books.

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