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.
At the castle of the immortal Witch Lord of Vaskandar, peace talks are being held between the Serene Empire and Alevar. Exalted Ryxander, granddaughter of the Witch Lord and Warden, manages the peace. Lamiel, diplomat and only love of the Witch Lord of Alevar, accidentally dies trying to open the dark and ashen magic within the Obsidian Tower. Touching Ryx, and her deadly magic, Lamiel’s heart and body cease. Ryx hides the truth to maintain the peace.
Ryx always hid herself and her deathly magic, that which kills at the touch. She sees herself as broken. Unable to even touch the girl she once had mad dreams of courting. When Lamiel touches her, she makes the decision never to allow such a thing to happen again. Her old friend, Aurelio, puts a jess on her, preventing her deathly magic from stopping any more hearts. Ryx searches for a way to protect her people from what lays in the Obsidian Tower.
The Obsidian Tower is one of those fluttery, intense, darkly sinister and heartbreakingly nuanced fantasy novels of my dreams. Reminiscent of the tales of demons and the 9 sins, Melissa Caruso truly has taste for telling fantasy tales. A granny Wtich Lord possessed by a lady demon called Discord. Briar roses that act like snakes to strike at victims of their vengeance. Mages with power to command animals. A gay swordswoman and her aro-tastic crush. Nonbinary chaotic mages! Flamboyant boy mages with lavender hair and a cape of iridescent purple butterflies. A diversity of skin tones. Warm citrus steamed tea or lavender tea? The cozy darkness at the tip of your fingers.
This book is like legends, almost arthurian mixed with cozy British folktales and a dash of demonic loveliness. Lords named after animals. The Fox Lord, Lady of Owls, Mantis Lord. The nuance of the characters is exactly what I look for when reading adult fantasy, something that I miss from other books I’ve read. The subtle looks, the roguish smiles, the things that aren’t said. Caruso is excellent at writing the ‘i’m a nice guy’ asshole. They all make for deeply rooted characters. You don’t have to be explained anything because everything is seen through the descriptions.
The subtle humor is exactly what I needed after everything going on in the world. That and the fucking GAY GAY GAYNESS of this fantasy. Give me the best bi fantasy and Caruso certainly delivered.
Thank You to Orbit for an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.