It’s been a while since I made an #AmReading post. In the past, before RL threw a monkey wrench into my routine, I did my reading for the weekly post on the treadmill and simply highlighted a short favorite snippet from each days’ reading to let the book speak for itself.
I will go back to that format (the snippets, not necessarily the treadmill…I’ve been doing laps around the house instead), but this week I’ll make an exception and tack on a little more:
A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske
LGBTQ+ Gaslamp Fantasy ~ 377 pages
I’m gonna fan-girl all over this post, because this is an amazing story in every way. The storyline itself is gripping, the pacing is spot-on, the storytelling is top notch, and if any inconsistencies or un/under-explained points exist, I missed them.
The story fits nicely into one of my favorite flavors of fantasy/paranormal—the fantasy element exists undetected to the majority of people in the world. The author does an excellent/believable job covering how they manage that. In this case, the fantasy element is magic in a historical (Edwardian England) setting. The ability to conjure magic runs in families, and one is either born with the ability, or not.
As for the storyline…
A mixup gets Robin (Sir Robert Blyth) assigned as “Assistant in the Office of Special Domestic Affairs and Complaints.” He has no idea what to expect, but assumes it’s a dead-end position. It turns out to be a magic-related liaison job reporting directly to the Prime Minister.
Edwin Courcey is “Liaison to the Chief Minister of the Magical Assembly.” He’s part of a magical family, but with minimal powers compared to most.
I won’t rehash the drama…you can read the blurb, below. I’ll just say (again) that it was gripping. Likewise, the romance arc pulled me in with its believable timing and progression of feelings. Even the obligatory separation was well handled and believable. I loved how opposite Robin and Edwin were in most every way and yet were precisely what each other needed.
As for the pacing…
We meet Robin and Edwin in Chapter 2. The opening chapter set up the drama that Robin and Edwin will be dealing with beginning in Chapter 3.
For me, the story’s pacing was perfect. No purely filler scenes to bog it down, yet neither did it feel like the action was moving too swiftly. It only took me as long as it did to get through it because (a) real life only permits so much reading time, and (b) I went the audio + ebook immersion reading route, and even setting the playback speed to 1.2x (because it was slow—but otherwise wonderful—narration), it still took a while to get through. But, hey, it gave me something to look forward to each day!
As for the storytelling…
I fell in love with the author’s writing style. Here are a handful of short snippets so you can judge for yourself. They’re mostly highlights from a single day or two’s reading rather than spread throughout the book like in my old treadmill reading posts:
- It felt as though every cell in his body had replaced itself over that span of days, silent and individually unnoticed, forming something the exact shape as the old Edwin that nonetheless resonated at a different frequency.
- It was a question like those asked by tutors who knew they’d found the holes in your argument and were advancing with fingers ready to be shoved through the fabric of it.
This next one is an example of how one of those nit-picky things I always notice was later explained. I’d wondered why Miss Morrissey hadn’t been targeted and pretty much gave myself this same likely explanation and was thrilled to later find it officially answered:
- “They’re men.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because if even a single woman was involved, they wouldn’t have decided that a man who’d been working there one day was a more likely source of information than a woman who’d been there for years.”
It was a good point. Miss Morrissey looked almost offended that she hadn’t been accosted and cursed.
A few more simply illustrating the beautiful writing:
- A pause. Robin had had enough silent conversations with his own sister to realise when one was happening in front of him. He’d expected a lot more in the way of arguments and persuasion, and was prepared to embarrass himself in any number of ways if it would help, but the sisters Morrissey had a searching shorthand of glances that bypassed all of it.
- “I know,” said Edwin. There was a strange moment of accord between the Courceys, like two violins played at random meeting briefly on the same note.
- “Hold on,” said Edwin. He dragged pieces of thoughts around like a Latin sentence, until all the parts made tentative sense.
Positively lovely, right? It was a pleasure to read this book, and I will be eagerly awaiting book 2 in the series. Not that there’s a cliffhanger…there isn’t, but neither is the larger drama fully concluded.
And of course I’m longing to see what happens next with Robin and Edwin, though looking at the upcoming book’s blurb, I see it’s featuring Robin’s sister, Maud, with another woman. I expect there’ll be glimpses, only, of book 1’s couple, but I’m satisfied to assume their own romance arc has moved into non-story-worthy happy-ever-after mode—or perhaps on pause until a later book?
Red, White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light, featuring an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies.
Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.
Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.
Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.