Updated: Mar 11, 2022
Release Date: 9th December 2021
Thank you Tor & NetGalley for my e-arc review copy.
Trigger Warnings: death, violence, sexual content, bullying, period-typical homophobia and sexism.
A Marvellous Light is a dual narrative fantasy novel set in 1908, following the protagonists, Robin and Edwin, as they unravel a magical conspiracy. After a clerical mishap, recently orphaned Robin is assigned as the new civil service liaison to a secret magical society. Which comes as a bit of a surprise, considering he didn’t know magic existed. Edwin is the grumpy and bookish magical counterpart to Robin’s liaison position, who would much rather have Robin’s predecessor (Reggie Gatling) back. But when Robin is attacked and placed under a terrible curse by a sinister group of men, Edwin and Robin come together to get rid of Robin’s curse and uncover the mystery of Reggie’s disappearance.
After the excitement of the opening scene, I found that the next few scenes were a little slow, receiving tip-bits of Edwin and Robin’s respective personalities and backgrounds. If you experience this too - please don't give up! The plot soon kicks into gear, and I was pulled back in. The world came alive, Marske seamlessly blending the intricacies of a unique magical system (it’s based around cats-cradle and I’m obsessed!) with observations of the Edwardian elite. Edwin and Robin are joined along the way by an array of vividly conceived secondary characters. I loved the no-nonsense Morrissey sisters (I hope we see more of them in the sequels), and, while absolutely awful people, Edwin’s siblings and their ‘set’ were entirely believable. There were moments where I felt I was reading an infinitely more interesting, magical, Mrs Dalloway. There were also some amazing locations, such as Sutton Cottage (which I can’t gush about too much because of spoilers!) and Edwin’s library, which I wish I could visit.
At the centre of the novel is the romance between Robin and Edwin. It was heart-warming and, like the rest of the narrative, beautifully written. I’m not sure how to put Edwin and Robin’s dynamic into words better than Robin already does:
Robin managed to hold his tongue on saying something truly unwise like: You look like a Turner painting and I want to learn your textures with my fingertips. You are the most fascinating thing in this beautiful house. I’d like to introduce my fists to whoever taught you to stop talking about the things that interest you. Those are not things one blurted out to a friend.
This novel does have explicit scenes, so just be aware if that’s not for you (although they are skippable and I highly recommend reading the rest of the novel).
As you could probably tell, I loved this book and I can't wait for the sequels.
Star Rating: 5/5
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