Ivory and Bone by Julia Eshbaugh is another wonderfully unique novel. I remember seeing the title around for the months leading up to its recent (June 7 2016) release, but for some reason never got around to reading the blurb or finding out more about it.
When I found out that it had allusions to Pride & Prejudice, I definitely became more intrigued. It was a pleasant surprise when I received the book in one of my June book
Funnily enough, I planned this book to be my right after Eligible considering they are both related to Jane Austen’s classic. (I will say that the two books are very, very different.)
Eshbaugh’s storytelling is on par! Granted, it took me awhile to see the whole picture of her writing style and the story she was telling.
It took me awhile to get into the swing of the writing and point of view. We get a snapshot from the middle of the story that sets up the second point of view – of Kol telling the story to Mya. So we still get Kol’s point of view primarily, but it’s unique in that we get some of Kol’s insights into Mya and other characters; plus what he thinks is really going on (though I will say it was weird at times being ‘spoken to’ by Kol). But this is where part of the uniqueness comes from that I really enjoyed.
While she didn’t describe every little thing, Eshbaugh still did a wonderful job of weaving together the setting – I could easily imagine the beautiful, but sometimes harsh prehistoric world where mammoths still roam free.
The other unique part of this story is the fact the story takes place in prehistoric times where people are hunters and gatherers and form small communities. Some are nomadic, following their whatever animal is their prey and some stay in one place, like Kol’s clan.
However, Kol’s clan has no females of marriageable age – no one to help continue the clan’s survival. Kol is seventeen years old with younger brothers. Everything changes when two sisters arrive from a neighboring clan – their brother is seeking a husband for the oldest, Mya. Kol instantly wants to impress and befriend Mya, but on a mammoth hunt, he almost makes a careless and grave mistake. Mya, to say the least, is cold towards him.
And then Lo arrives and Kol starts a friendship with her only to learn that there is an unfriendly history between Mya and Lo. Tensions rise between Mya and Lo until violence erupts. Kol soon sees that this war has been planned along by either Mya or Lo, but he doesn’t know who or which of their stories to believe.
I always find it hard to relate to male characters, but living in prehistoric times was probably a lot simpler – there were only so many things to do or know about. Because of that, I found it easier to relate to Kol and imagine what he’s like. Him telling the story also made it easier for that. I see similarities between Kol and Elizabeth Bennet for sure, but I didn’t see Kol has being very prideful, though he does want to defend Lo and Mya to each other. I gathered that he avoided conflict when he could.
Mya was simply a mystery to me. The only information we get as the reader is what Kol tells us – and obviously a lot of that is a first impression or possibly jumping to conclusions. Mya definitely comes off distant towards Kol, but I put it down to her being focused on other things besides trying to find a husband.
Lo was also a mystery though she does come off more friendly and charming towards Kol, though I was kind of instantly wary of her. But that could be that Kol doesn’t spend a lot of time with her.
The other characters – Kol’s parents, brothers, Mya’s sister – are all well developed for the secondary characters I saw them as.
What I Disliked
At first, I really didn’t like the second point of view, of Kol telling the story, but I think it was only because I wasn’t used to it. Either way, I wouldn’t have this story any other way.
I have read a few other reviews where people really did not like the POV that was used or didn’t like that the Pride & Prejudice allusions were not very strong. But I definitely saw the allusions to the Austen classic – the author simply reversed genders and used different conflicts. I thought it was really well done.
I definitely think that this book is worth a chance. Are you going to read it?? Have you read it?