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Review: Rooks and Ruin 01: The Obsidian Tower

Rating: 2 out of 5.


The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.

Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.

Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world. – Goodreads


Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy in return for an honest review.

I think its best to start this review by saying that a 2 star rating means I thought this book was “okay.” Not good, not bad – but overwhelmingly okay.

The Obsidian Tower was a book I went into really wanting to love with it’s interesting premise of broken magic and artifact investigation with a bi main character. Unfortunately the execution of these ideas left a lot to be desired.

My first issue was the world building. I read a lot of epic fantasy, so slow pacing and a lot of information don’t necessarily bother me – in fact I often relish these things. Here, though, the world building was done in huge, generic info dumps that made most of the information given completely forgettable.

This was not helped by Ryx, who might be the most passive character I’ve ever encountered. She spends much of the book being pulled along by other characters making most of her decisions for her and speaking for her, while she silently fumes and tells the reader all of the important things that she had actively done before the story started, and explaining over and over again why she can’t do anything now.

Further, the situation where Ryx can’t be touched because of her magic was an interesting idea when taken at face value and it was easy to understand why Ryx would be deeply lonely because of it. However, Caruso comes back to explaining this so often and making such a big deal out of how difficult it was to not be touched every five minutes that the entire situation became less believable over time. It isn’t really that hard to not go around touching people all the time – and this is when one person isn’t deadly.. It was also hard to believe that the castle staff hated/were afraid of Ryx when the only time they actually seemed to be so was when it was convenient to engender sympathy for her.

Finally, Caruso says a lot in this book, which clocks in at almost 500 pages, but it felt like very little actually happened to characters that were so insubstantial that I can hardly remember anyone’s name despite finishing it only yesterday.

I do think some readers will really connect with Ryx, but unfortunately this just wasn’t for me.