This was a great debut new adult fantasy book, with the potential to become a very strong series! If you have enjoyed popular fantasy series such as From Blood and Ash and ACOTAR, you are probably going to like A Dawn of Onyx. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars!
The plot of this book kept me intrigued all throughout the book, and it was easy to get sucked in and keep reading! The plot picks up with a lot of action right away without too much info-dumping at the beginning. The middle is a little slower than the beginning and end, but still good in terms of relationship building and giving the readers more information on the world. The ending was absolutely explosive, packed with action, tension, betrayal, and death. It led to a cliffhanger that made you want to read the next book right away.
The world that Golden creates for this book is imaginative and creative. I loved that the different kingdoms were named after gemstones and all had their own intriguing politics and alliances. The inclusion of witches, fae, and magic was original and interesting.
I really appreciated the character arc that the main character Arwen went through in this book. She went from being naive about the outside world and hesitant about her powers to becoming more courageous and tenacious at the end. I liked that she had some duality to her, that she could be soft and girly but also stubborn and brave at the same time. In this way she was very relatable, unlike an MC with just courageousness or just cowardice.
Kane was a very interesting love interest as well. I liked seeing his two personas: the sarcastic, brooding cellmate next to Arwen as well as the King of the Onyx Kingdom. He was definitely a morally gray character, but I wish he was even more tortured and dark, since he has a disturbing backstory that has the potential to make his character even more complex.
Even the side characters, such as Griffin and Mari, were fun to read about. They were definitely not as fleshed out as Arwen and Kane, and were sometimes a little caricature-y, but they helped add components of humor and lightness to the story.
As good as the romance was, it really threw me off when I saw this book being marketed as an enemies-to-lovers romance on Tiktok. The most that Arwen and Kane got to was a mild dislike, and even that was one-sided. Kane never hated Arwen at all. Arwen only disliked Kane for a part of the book, even though he was supposedly the ruler of the kingdom which had ravaged her own home. Even though the enemies to lovers trope did not fully deliver, the romance was still angsty and slow burn, which I loved. I’m not going to spoil the book, but I will say that I’m intrigued to see a shift in Arwen and Kane’s dynamic in the sequel.