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A Marvellous Light

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Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and 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’ e Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and 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.


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Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and 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’ e Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and 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.

30 review for A Marvellous Light

  1. 5 out of 5

    chai ♡

    Raise your hand if you too are intensely interested in a himbo/librarian pairing (but make it gay) and are practically vibrating in barely-leashed excitement to read this book

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rick Riordan

    It's never fair to describe a book in elevator pitch terms, comparing it to other well-known stories: "It's like X meets Y, with a touch of Z!" That said, a helpful shorthand aesthetic for "A Marvelous Light" might be Downtown Abbey with magic and gay romance. In Edwardian England, circa 1908, part of the English upper classes are secretly magicians, their powers tied to the land and to their family lineage. There is even a liaison office in the government to handle and contain flare ups of magi It's never fair to describe a book in elevator pitch terms, comparing it to other well-known stories: "It's like X meets Y, with a touch of Z!" That said, a helpful shorthand aesthetic for "A Marvelous Light" might be Downtown Abbey with magic and gay romance. In Edwardian England, circa 1908, part of the English upper classes are secretly magicians, their powers tied to the land and to their family lineage. There is even a liaison office in the government to handle and contain flare ups of magic and keep news of magical doings from the eyes of the general public. In the midst of this, our two protagonists -- Robin and Edwin, one un-magical, the other barely magical -- find themselves thrust into a life-or-death hunt for an ancient magical document that could change the world. And while running for their lives, the two young men also go from antagonists to unwillingly allies to . . . could it possibly be romance? I enjoyed the pacing and the world-building. The frenemies-to-lovers theme is always one I enjoy. Be advised, once things heat up about halfway through, they get quite steamy, like R-rated steamy at least, but I'm sure that will not be a disincentive to many adult readers!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    I cannot find a more apt way to describe A Marvellous Light than by saying it's like top-tier fanfiction - and anyone who's read top-tier fanfiction knows that equates to being a story that's incredibly fun, gorgeously written and includes a significant dose of steamy romance 👀 I really loved the world and characters of A Marvellous Light (shout out to one of my favourite tropes - the magical house - and Sutton Cottage) and this first instalment sets up the rest of the series well. Secret society I cannot find a more apt way to describe A Marvellous Light than by saying it's like top-tier fanfiction - and anyone who's read top-tier fanfiction knows that equates to being a story that's incredibly fun, gorgeously written and includes a significant dose of steamy romance 👀 I really loved the world and characters of A Marvellous Light (shout out to one of my favourite tropes - the magical house - and Sutton Cottage) and this first instalment sets up the rest of the series well. Secret society of magicians in London is a concept already done quite a few times over, but Marske sets AML apart by setting the story in Edwardian London (one of my favourite eras aka early Downton Abbey setting) rather than the popular Victorian London, and by including a style of magic based off of the game cat's cradle, which is really fun. Very much looking forward to book two. Hope to see more of Sutton Cottage. Also very much appreciated all the William Morris wallpaper and the mentions to Tiffany lamps. Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a review copy! * applicable A03 tags, as according to the publisher: - overthinking under-powered spiteful librarian/genial jock with surprising layers - UST (unresolved sexual tension) - VRST (very resolved sexual tension) - fantasy of very bad manners - hurt/comfort - Houses That Love You - bound by blood - bound by sexy magical restraints (lol) - gratuitous library porn - homicidal hedge maze - sleeves rolled up forearms - Messing About In Boats (classically english homoerotic trope there) [x] all in all, what a wonderful book this looks set to be

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    A note before finishing, because this line caught me so strongly: "I'd like to introduce my fists to whoever taught you to stop talking about the things that interest you." - I have been loving this delicious book from the very first page onwards, but I think this particular line (thought - but not spoken - by one of the heroes about the other) was the exact moment when I fell head over heels FOREVER. <3 <3 <3 I am DEVOURING this novel! *** Finished now, and oh, I LOVED it and think so many other peo A note before finishing, because this line caught me so strongly: "I'd like to introduce my fists to whoever taught you to stop talking about the things that interest you." - I have been loving this delicious book from the very first page onwards, but I think this particular line (thought - but not spoken - by one of the heroes about the other) was the exact moment when I fell head over heels FOREVER. <3 <3 <3 I am DEVOURING this novel! *** Finished now, and oh, I LOVED it and think so many other people will too! It's an utterly delicious historical romantic fantasy, with fascinating world building, layers upon layers of wonderful magic underneath our known history, characters and dialogue that I loved, and truly swoon-worthy enchanted libraries and hedge mazes. This is the first in a series (which I think will star different couples along the way - romance readers can be assured that this story has an HEA already, when it comes to the romantic relationship), and it's going to really delight readers of KJ Charles and/or CL Polk. SO much fun!

  5. 5 out of 5

    luce

    | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | 3 ½ stars “I am nothing like you, and yet I feel more myself with you.” Part cute/steamy romance, part historical fantasy romp, A Marvellous Light is a (mostly) delightful debut novel. A Marvellous Light is likely one of the best romances to come out in 2021. I really had a blast with this novel! While Freya Marske’s historical setting and the magical system is not quite as detailed & complex as Susanna Clarke's in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or Zen Cho' | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | 3 ½ stars “I am nothing like you, and yet I feel more myself with you.” Part cute/steamy romance, part historical fantasy romp, A Marvellous Light is a (mostly) delightful debut novel. A Marvellous Light is likely one of the best romances to come out in 2021. I really had a blast with this novel! While Freya Marske’s historical setting and the magical system is not quite as detailed & complex as Susanna Clarke's in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or Zen Cho's Sorcerer Royal series, its setting is vibrantly rendered and the fantasy aspect was a lot of fun and gave me some serious Diana Wynne Jones/Ghibli vibes. The main characters make the novel, and I found them incredibly endearing. The plot itself is fairly conventional, and it is Marske’s engaging style and her compelling protagonists that steal the show. “You woke me up. You're incredibly brave. You're not kind, but you care deeply. And I think you know how much I want you, in whatever way I can have you.” Set in Edwardian England, A Marvellous Light follows Robin Blyth and Edwin Courcey. Recently orphaned Robin is in his late twenties and despite his newly inherited title, he’s in urgent need of an income. A clerical mishap lands him in the position of ‘Assistant in the office of Special Domestic Affairs and Complaints’, his predecessor, a certain Reginald Gatling having gone suddenly MIA. On his first day on the job, Robin meets Edwin Courcey, who is the special liaison to the Chief Minister of the Magical Assembly. Robin, baffled by the discovery that magic is indeed real, is sure that someone more suitable should be taking his place. While Robin and Edwin are not keen on working together, after a certain altercation with some dubious individuals, the two decide to join forces in their effort to find out what happened to Reginald. Much of the narrative takes place in Edwin’s family home, where we learn more about how magic works and we see the bond between the two men solidify in something resembling a friendship. The narrative’s scope remains rather narrow, and the story is very much focused on the blossoming romance between Edwin and Robin. The growing sexual tension between them complicates their ‘mission’, as the two men will be forced to confront the magnitude of their feelings for each other. The dynamic between Edwin and Robin is truly charming. By switching between their perspectives we learn more about their personal histories, their relationship with their family members, and their previous romantic ‘exploits’. Edwin is a brilliant scholar, and he possesses vast magical knowledge. However, he does not possess much magic, and this has made his family treat him with open contempt. His older brother, who has a lot of magic, is a horrid bully, and his sister and parents have always turned a blind eye to his relentless tormenting of Edwin. Because of this Edwin is slow to trust, guarded to the point of rudeness. While Robin was never particularly close to his parents, who were not nearly as charitable and selfless as they liked to pretend, he is far more open and carefree. Of course, after a certain ‘event’, Robin too begins to have a lot on his mind. At Edwin’s family home the two grow closer, and as they attempt to find the truth behind Reginald’s disappearance they find themselves growing attached to one another. While we don’t learn much about the Magical Assembly or of the history of magic in England (other than a snippet here and there), the author does a fairly decent job when it comes to world-building, avoiding info-dumps and overly complicated explanations. The mystery storyline is perhaps the novel’s weakest element. There is an attempt at a twist villain but I’m afraid that it was fairly obvious that that person was indeed a ‘baddie’. The last 30% is slightly repetitive, and maybe I would have found it more gripping if the villains had been more fleshed out (we also get the uber cliched line: “Come on board, you'll have the power you've always wanted”). Speaking of secondary characters, they are somewhat one-dimensional. I kept confusing the people at Edwin’s house, as they all have ridiculously posh sounding nicknames and behaved in varying degrees of obnoxiousness. I did however like Miss Morrisey and her sister, I mean: “And we are but feeble women,” said Miss Morrisey. “Woe.” They were a fun addition and I wish they had played a bigger role in the story (hopefully we will see more of them in the sequel!). The romance between Edwin and Robin is the cherry on the cake. Their chemistry, banter, and flirting make for some thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly sweet passages. I wasn’t really expecting the story to be quite this smutty and I have to say that the sex scenes did feel a bit overlong. I don’t mind sex scenes but smut...eeh, it does nothing for me. I either find it unintentionally funny or boring. But this is clearly a ‘me thing’ so I’m sure other readers out there will be *ahem* more appreciative of these scenes. While the plotline is somewhat predictable (we have those fairly obvious twists, the usual misunderstanding that occurs around the 70% mark in romances) Marske does have a few tricks up her sleeves and she leaves quite a few questions unanswered (hopefully the sequel will resolve some of these). Overall this was a very entertaining read. It has humour, mystery, plenty of magical hijinks, and a lively Edwardian backdrop. Robin and Edwin are guaranteed to give you ‘the feels’, and I really liked their character arcs. And, last but not least, their romance. While I could have done with fewer sex scenes and more plot, Robin and Edwin’s relationship was great. The author doesn’t rush it, so we have quite a decent amount of longing/yearning….which I have always been a sucker for (especially in historical fiction). I am super excited to read the sequel and I thoroughly recommend this, especially to those who are looking for a sweet-turned-sexy queer romance + the perfect blend of fantasy and historical fiction. ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    On my blog. Actual rating 3.5 Rep: gay mcs, Punjabi side characters Galley provided by publisher Ever since I heard about A Marvellous Light, it’s been high up on my anticipated reads list. So, obviously, as soon as I had access to the ARC, I put everything else down to read it. And I did enjoy it, I promise, even as this sounds like a set up to say it was disappointing. But it’s one of those books that, the more I think on it, the less I think I loved it. The story sets itself up as a fantasy my On my blog. Actual rating 3.5 Rep: gay mcs, Punjabi side characters Galley provided by publisher Ever since I heard about A Marvellous Light, it’s been high up on my anticipated reads list. So, obviously, as soon as I had access to the ARC, I put everything else down to read it. And I did enjoy it, I promise, even as this sounds like a set up to say it was disappointing. But it’s one of those books that, the more I think on it, the less I think I loved it. The story sets itself up as a fantasy mystery but in actual fact, I think it’s better described as a fantasy romance where the vehicle for these characters meeting (and falling in love) is a mystery subplot. I guess that’s just too much of a mouthful in terms of marketing, however, but I would stress that you don’t go into this expecting it to be heavy on the mystery because it’s not. At times, the mystery completely drops by the wayside (along with very much worldbuilding, which is fine. I guess). Now, this is no bad thing! But if we’re looking for where I perhaps lost my enjoyment of the book. Not saying I don’t like fantasy romance, because I do, but I also like more accurately marketed books, and this… was just enough inaccuracy that I went into it expecting something different. This is entirely a me thing, I realise, and shouldn’t have had bearing on my enjoyment… and yet. The primary reason for that being the knock-on effects it had on pacing. As I said, at times the mystery was set aside completely. Case in point, they end up at a family house party and the whole murder mystery thing is forgotten about for a good few chapters in favour of developing character relationships (not a bad thing!). I think what I’m trying to get at is that the integration of the romance parts of the book with the mystery parts wasn’t great. At times, it felt like they were flipped between, like the book couldn’t be, at once, mystery and romance. I say this though, on the whole, as having liked the book. But I think this was a major reason as to why I didn’t love it. But moving onto some positives, this was a book where I immediately loved both of the characters. It always helps with dual POV books (and romance in general) that you like both of the characters, and that was definitely the case here. It was the characters that really carried the book for me and they’re the reason I’ll probably end up reading the sequel. I realise this review has mostly been somewhat meh, if not actually negative, but I did enjoy reading this book. I finished it in a single sitting, having been fully consumed by the world and characters. It’s only afterwards, when I sat to think about it, that I found I was picking holes.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Actual Rating: 4.5 stars rounded up If you're looking for a charming fantasy romance that's heavy on plot and world-building A Marvellous Light is a fantastic choice! Set in an alternate Edwardian England, Robin is unexpectedly drawn into a magical underworld where a mysterious murder and dastardly machinations must be unraveled. The prickly Edwin becomes his guide into this new world and they work together to uncover the truth, save Robin from a curse, and perhaps lower their walls enough to fin Actual Rating: 4.5 stars rounded up If you're looking for a charming fantasy romance that's heavy on plot and world-building A Marvellous Light is a fantastic choice! Set in an alternate Edwardian England, Robin is unexpectedly drawn into a magical underworld where a mysterious murder and dastardly machinations must be unraveled. The prickly Edwin becomes his guide into this new world and they work together to uncover the truth, save Robin from a curse, and perhaps lower their walls enough to find love. It's a slow-burn, but things do get quite steamy later in the book. (There is even some erotic use of magic. Which TBH people would totally do if magic were real) Robin and Edwin live in a time when being gay is extremely dangerous, so they take their time feeling each other out. But they have this very tender relationship, creating safety and understanding for who each of them are. And for readers who prefer their romance to come with a strong side of plot and thoughtful world-building- this book will give you what you're looking for. The audio narration is fabulous and a great option if you like audiobooks! I received an advance copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    Can we all agree to put a moratorium on describing every gay book as "the next Red, White & Royal Blue?" It's ridiculous that every m/m romance novel has to exist in relation to an underwhelming (but lucrative) book from two and a half years ago. I recognize that by using RWRB as a comp, publishers are attempting to manifest the kind of financial success McQuiston (and therefore St. Martin's) had, The Secret-style, but it's an utterly meaningless comparison. Literally the only thing these two bo Can we all agree to put a moratorium on describing every gay book as "the next Red, White & Royal Blue?" It's ridiculous that every m/m romance novel has to exist in relation to an underwhelming (but lucrative) book from two and a half years ago. I recognize that by using RWRB as a comp, publishers are attempting to manifest the kind of financial success McQuiston (and therefore St. Martin's) had, The Secret-style, but it's an utterly meaningless comparison. Literally the only thing these two books have in common is that they're gay. A better (and completely obvious) comp is Witchmark by CL Polk. They're both gay magician historical romances set in England, for one. Another would be the The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles, yet another gay magician historical romance set in England. This is a real subgenre, people. Three seconds of research would turn up dozens more. You don't need to make lazy comparisons to the one other gay book straight people read. Like Witchmark, there's significant worldbuilding and an interesting magic system, though A Marvellous Light is more sexually explicit than what Polk writes. I thought the way magic works in this book--with hand shapes guided by string--was truly very cool. But like KJC's books, the story is overburdened with plot when people (me) would vastly prefer pining and kissing. There's a place for plot in romance books, of course. There's no satisfaction without conflict of some kind. But it's a matter of weaving it all together in a way that's interesting and seamless, and that doesn't happen here. It mostly felt like a slog through backstory and technical details. Aside from the pacing, another gripe I have is that every female character in AML is conniving, shallow, cruel, empty-headed, or some combination of all four. Adelaide is slightly more dimensional by the end, but not by much. Throughout the book, I found myself wishing for more of the tertiary villain, a character that gets one scene and then lots of later mentions. He's described pretty much exclusively as hot and mean, which already makes him leagues more interesting than the actual protagonists, both of whom are of only mild attractiveness and have the personalities of wet paper. I'm hoping book 2 is 200% more Jack Hawthorn, but even if it is I don't know that I'd be interested enough to dive back into this series. Overall, it's a straightforward and mostly forgettable romance novel.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    I just spent my whole day reading Freya Marske's upcoming fantasy novel A Marvellous Light , and it was, just marvelous! I usually don't read fantasy novels, but I do enjoy magic and gay sex, and this book has BOTH! This book reminds me of The Magicians meets Downton Abbey and I had all the feels while reading this story. A Marvellous Light takes place in the early 1900s England and focuses on two men, Edwin Courcey and his newly appointed civil service liaison, Robert (Robin) Blythe. Rob I just spent my whole day reading Freya Marske's upcoming fantasy novel A Marvellous Light , and it was, just marvelous! I usually don't read fantasy novels, but I do enjoy magic and gay sex, and this book has BOTH! This book reminds me of The Magicians meets Downton Abbey and I had all the feels while reading this story. A Marvellous Light takes place in the early 1900s England and focuses on two men, Edwin Courcey and his newly appointed civil service liaison, Robert (Robin) Blythe. Robin was appointed to replace Edwin's previous civil service liaison that has gone missing, but unbeknownst to Robin, Edwin procures magic. Not only does Edwin practice magic, but there's an entire world of magic and powers that Robin has never experienced. As Robin's predecessor continues to be missing, Edwin and Robin decide to embark on a mission to try and figure out the bottom of his disappearance. Little do Edwin and Robin know, this mystery is a lot bigger than they ever expected and it's only a matter of time until it begins to rattle their worlds. I was not expecting to enjoy A Marvellous Light as much as I did. See everyone, I can read fantasy novels! This book has it all—love and sex, mystery and suspense, magic and deception. I could not turn the pages faster. The story starts a bit slower than I expected, but that's because this book has a powerful world building element to get you started. The author does a fabulous job explaining this world of magic and spells so by the time the mystery begins to unfold, you are already glued to the action. I loved the romance in this book, and full disclaimer, the sex scenes are definitely explicit. I AM NOT MAD ABOUT IT! I can't wait to see more of this world and more of Edwin and Robin and their journey with magic and love. I'm hearing that this book will be a series and I can't wait to see how the world Freya Marske developed continues to grow.

  10. 5 out of 5

    h o l l i s

    Just need to get this out of the way : I don’t think this ever should’ve been compared to RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE. It shouldn’t have been in the pitch. Prior to reading the book it made me hesitant to pick this up and post-reading the book I’m just perplexed. That caveat aside, I did struggle with this book which made the times when I was really enjoying it a bit of a bummer because it would inevitably take a dip into a less enjoyable section or get a bit bogged down. But considering it’s a serie Just need to get this out of the way : I don’t think this ever should’ve been compared to RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE. It shouldn’t have been in the pitch. Prior to reading the book it made me hesitant to pick this up and post-reading the book I’m just perplexed. That caveat aside, I did struggle with this book which made the times when I was really enjoying it a bit of a bummer because it would inevitably take a dip into a less enjoyable section or get a bit bogged down. But considering it’s a series and it sounds like there’s a lot of moving parts and things to reveal and overcome, a battle even maybe, I understand there’s a lot to set up. Having said that, I might’ve liked less emphasis on the romance knowing we had more books to come and therefore more time to let the romance breathe. I am looking forward to reading on in this series but, between the hype and the interesting choice in comp, just be wary going into this one that it doesn’t oversell itself before you cash out. Full review to come.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marieke du Pré

    Perfect for fans of K.J. Charles!! A historical M|M, set in England, witty banter, a mystery to solve, and a sweet romance with magical touches. It took me a while to get into the story, and that’s probably because of the extensive world-building. The descriptive writing is one of the book's strengths, but it also slowed down the pace, particularly at the beginning. After listening to a couple of chapters during a two-hour drive, I started looking forward to the interactions between Robin and Ed Perfect for fans of K.J. Charles!! A historical M|M, set in England, witty banter, a mystery to solve, and a sweet romance with magical touches. It took me a while to get into the story, and that’s probably because of the extensive world-building. The descriptive writing is one of the book's strengths, but it also slowed down the pace, particularly at the beginning. After listening to a couple of chapters during a two-hour drive, I started looking forward to the interactions between Robin and Edwin. The first moment I really connected to the story was when Robin realized Edwin might like men too. His bewilderment was so genuine! And from that moment, I just wanted to read more. I loved, loved those two men. Edwin thoughtful, dedicated and precise, and Robin good looking, spontaneous, and stubborn. Their romance was a delight, so gentle and cute. You are the most fascinating thing in this beautiful world. I’d like to introduce my fists to whoever taught you to stop talking about the things that interest you. The slow awareness they both liked men, the bond of trust that developed between them, those subtle touches and gazes, the tension, and the yearning. I’m a sucker for these kinds of romances and didn’t even mind that the mystery was set aside for a few chapters, so their relationship could evolve more. This was the first time I listened to an audiobook and found the pacing too slow when I started. But I liked the narrator, and then I decided to alternate between the ebook and the audio, and I started to appreciate the audio more and more. I even heard the posh accent of the narrator in the back of my mind while reading the ebook. And the audio certainly gets bonus points because I could listen to the book while folding laundry 😂. I highly recommend A Marvellous Light to those who like feel-good romances with magic in between and don’t mind some steamy scenes. I’ll definitely put the second book of this series on my TBR! I received an audiobook from Pan Macmillan Audiobooks UK in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    Dennis may have tricked me into reading a romance by picking one with some magic in it, but I am thankful for the book anyways. 💙 *Thanks to @scaredstraightreads & Tordotcom for my giveaway win!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Smith

    Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I had a coworker looking forward to this book, and seeing the Alix Harrow blurb, I had to download it! Edwardian gay magicians, pretty cover, what’s not to love? A Marvellous Light follows two men, Robin and Edwin, in an Edwardian London with magicians. After a clerical error, non-magical Robin gets put in a government position that investigates magical circumstances and is supposed to keep them quiet so people Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I had a coworker looking forward to this book, and seeing the Alix Harrow blurb, I had to download it! Edwardian gay magicians, pretty cover, what’s not to love? A Marvellous Light follows two men, Robin and Edwin, in an Edwardian London with magicians. After a clerical error, non-magical Robin gets put in a government position that investigates magical circumstances and is supposed to keep them quiet so people don’t find out about magic, with Edwin as his… supervisor. But the position Robin fills is one that was recently vacated due to his predecessor being murdered. Robin is thrust into the world of magicians and it’s up to Robin and Edwin to solve his predecessor’s murder and uncover the plot he was involved with. As much as I thought I’d like this, it was a STRUGGLE to read and finish. I contemplated DNF-ing multiple times but forced myself to finish. The writing style seemed to WANT my eyes to skim over it. It did not work for me at all. The only thing I highlighted in the book was a throwaway line “several chapters’ worth of meaningless symbols…” because it felt like a summary of the book as a whole. Nothing grabbed me, and I frequently found myself stopping and getting distracted. The only reason I continued was sheer force of will alone, and nothing to do with the book itself. This book was slow. Even as an adult high fantasy reader who usually doesn’t mind slow beginnings, it was GLACIALLY slow. I would read and think I made progress, just for a few percent to go by. I had to look up how long this book is supposed to be because it seemed to stretch on with nothing remotely interesting happening forever, making me think this HAD to be a tome of a book, only to find out it’s less than 400 pages! Eventually things pick up, at about 50% through, but the novel as a whole was about as exciting and riveting as an afternoon nap, since it consisted of mostly filler and very few plot points to be found. For a dual perspective, I didn’t care much about either of the characters, and while they had different personalities, neither were compelling or endearing. And even worse than them both being wet blankets but in different ways, little was done to the writing to differentiate their perspectives, so every switch (which went unlabeled) felt as though it was fumbling as I tried to decipher what perspective I was reading from before being able to continue reading. ANY of the other characters were completely two dimensional and like cardboard cutouts, just props to place within the narrative, so even the side characters were impossible to care about. The one exception might be the woman assistant Adelaide, but even she felt two-dimensional. The magic system was fairly interesting and the romance was okay. There were a couple sex scenes, so definitely not a book for minors. Maybe the fact that it’s m/m gay will be enough of a draw to get people to read and like it, since m/m has always been more popular and “palatable” but I’ve been spoiled with amazing sapphic fantasy reads this year that have everything this book sorely lacked and this in no way compared. I think the idea of this book had a solid base, and I did (eventually) want to find out what happened but it was lacking a lot of things that are incredibly vital to any good book: excitement, investment, high stakes, good pacing, interesting characters, decent resolution. It wasn’t completely terrible, but I would consider it a stretch to even call it “good” so it’ll definitely be filed under disappointing reads. My resounding feelings and thoughts towards this book can be summed up as: meh/bad. 2 stars. I highly doubt I will continue reading this series unless there are MAJOR changes/improvements.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    There must have been some kind of mistake because Robin Blyth is NOT qualified for his new job. On his first day, he finds out that he’s the British Government’s liaison to a hidden magical world and what’s worse, that the position’s former incumbent is missing in action. Then right after his unbusheling (not as dirty as it sounds), he finds himself cursed. Thankfully, his contact in this new-to-him world - Edwin Courcey - is there to help him search for answers… and possibly a whole lot more. F There must have been some kind of mistake because Robin Blyth is NOT qualified for his new job. On his first day, he finds out that he’s the British Government’s liaison to a hidden magical world and what’s worse, that the position’s former incumbent is missing in action. Then right after his unbusheling (not as dirty as it sounds), he finds himself cursed. Thankfully, his contact in this new-to-him world - Edwin Courcey - is there to help him search for answers… and possibly a whole lot more. First up, let me put my cards on the table. I loved every part of this book. From the hoity-toity English to the queer romance to the UF style murder investigation- all of it was utterly perfect and so much fun to read. The alternative England is believable, blending innovative magic seamlessly into the known world, and it’s clear that we have only been shown a sliver of it. Yet what’s really important is the characters. This is a book that centres people. Honestly, it’s rare for me to consider a relationship the primary appeal of any novel, but in this case the friends to lovers transformation is simply exquisite. It’s a perfectly choreographed dance, tentative at first, then close, electric. The development of trust, as Edwin slowly starts to believe in himself and in Robin, is captivating. His previous hurts hang heavily on him and its impossible to do anything but cheer his growth. Meanwhile, Edwin’s bookish, skittish personality, alternately clashing with or complementing Robin’s laissez-faire nature, makes them a fascinating team. The POV switches allow the reader to see beyond their awkward conversations to the slow sharing of their real selves. It’s delivered with impeccable timing, interwoven by moments of high action and the very real possibility of death. There’s somewhat limited development of minor characters, subsumed to the demands of the main pair, but this could well be addressed in the future. In any case, there’s more than enough to whet the appetite for now. The plot seemed somewhat secondary to the characters but it held its own regardless. The search for answers to Robin’s ever worsening curse morphs into a much larger problem - a diabolical plot to find an artefact that could threaten every magician in England. The plot twist was more a timely arrival at a known destination rather than any kind of surprise, but the author’s means of resolution was a clever necessity, finalising this novel without limiting her options for the future. One of my favourites of the year. ARC via Netgalley

  15. 4 out of 5

    fatma

    When I first heard about A Marvellous Light, it sounded like it was pretty much written for me: tropey! romantic! historical! magical! And reader, it did not disappoint. Gotta say, I love this new trend of bringing fanfiction sensibilities into traditionally published fiction, because at its heart, fanfiction really embodies everything I love reading about: there's the romance, yes, but also the dialogue, the focus on relationships and relationship dynamics, the exploration of tropes. And ultima When I first heard about A Marvellous Light, it sounded like it was pretty much written for me: tropey! romantic! historical! magical! And reader, it did not disappoint. Gotta say, I love this new trend of bringing fanfiction sensibilities into traditionally published fiction, because at its heart, fanfiction really embodies everything I love reading about: there's the romance, yes, but also the dialogue, the focus on relationships and relationship dynamics, the exploration of tropes. And ultimately I think that's why A Marvellous Light worked so well for me. For one, it was just a genuinely fun book: there's sentient houses and magical games and libraries, and the characters are given the space to explore all those things without everything necessarily having to be about Moving the Plot Forward. It's a well-paced and well-written book, too, deftly balancing plot with character development, and giving us some really moving and poignant character moments as well as some more high stakes, action-packed ones. Of course, this book doesn't work without its delightful duo: Edwin and Robin. They had such a lovely dynamic, and not to get too emo or anything, but there's just something so heartwarming about watching two people get to know about and care for each other. The tenderness! The yearning! The tentativeness that develops into something more sturdy, more steady! It really is all about the Mortifying Ordeal Of Being Known. All in all, this was a confidently and assuredly written debut, and I'm so excited to see where Edwin and Robin's story goes next (the second book is going to be set on the Titanic ?!!!?!?!). Thanks so much to Tor for providing me with an e-ARC of this via Netgalley!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

    3.5 stars, probably. I loved the world - it's not a secret that I have a soft spot for historical fantasy - and I'm curious to see where the story will go in the sequels. 3.5 stars, probably. I loved the world - it's not a secret that I have a soft spot for historical fantasy - and I'm curious to see where the story will go in the sequels.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Para (wanderer)

    ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Once again, I blame the ARC request on Sara (as usual with anything romancey), and once again, it was very enjoyable. Part mystery, part romance, part magic, as usual for the subgenre, it suited my mood well – I haven’t read proper historical romance in a while. Robin finds himself inexplicably assigned to the job of being the liaison between the mundane and magical worlds. There are only three little problems: he didn’t know magic ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Once again, I blame the ARC request on Sara (as usual with anything romancey), and once again, it was very enjoyable. Part mystery, part romance, part magic, as usual for the subgenre, it suited my mood well – I haven’t read proper historical romance in a while. Robin finds himself inexplicably assigned to the job of being the liaison between the mundane and magical worlds. There are only three little problems: he didn’t know magic existed until his first day on the job, his predecessor may have been murdered, and he himself gets cursed. Four if we count Edwin, his frustrating and prickly counterpart on the magical side of things, who does not appreciate having to work with someone who has no clue. The mystery plot of the murder and Robin’s curse worked pretty well and the magic system was very interesting, one of the most unique spins on it I’ve seen in a while. But my favourite aspect was the characters. I got especially attached to the bookish Edwin (is it even a surprise?) and I liked that both of them hide some pretty nasty family-related trauma under the surface. The romance didn’t fall into my one favourite specific type, and the heat level was higher than I prefer (there are 3+ longish, explicit sex scenes), but I enjoyed it regardless. The sunny himbo/grumpy nerd dynamic was fun. I was initially afraid I’d find the constant sniping at each other tiring, but it luckily got better fast and from there on it was smooth sailing. The only thing I was slightly bothered by is the time scale – they got together after what the characters said was only a week, which seemed a little fast, and felt much longer to me while I was reading besides. In short, this is a series I’ll gladly continue. Enjoyment: 4/5 Execution: 4/5 Recommended to: historical romance fans, those who like interesting magic systems Not recommended to: those who don’t like a lot of explicit sex More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    In just a few paragraphs, I'm going to indulge myself here and let my thoughts ramble a bit, so this write-up will be as much inquiry as review, but I'll start with the review in condensed form. In A Marvellous Light, Freya Marske builds a world complete—detail after detail, one event leading into another, with an ethos just far enough off from the expected to surprise while feeling completely natural. This is utterly brilliant writing. Go, buy this book as soon as it's released, and clear your In just a few paragraphs, I'm going to indulge myself here and let my thoughts ramble a bit, so this write-up will be as much inquiry as review, but I'll start with the review in condensed form. In A Marvellous Light, Freya Marske builds a world complete—detail after detail, one event leading into another, with an ethos just far enough off from the expected to surprise while feeling completely natural. This is utterly brilliant writing. Go, buy this book as soon as it's released, and clear your calendar for a day or two. That said, a little background as a lead-in to the rambling— Marske places her readers into a roughly turn of the 20th Century England, where magicians and non-magicians live side by side with the non-magicians having absolutely no idea of the parallel world they're also traveling through. Among the magicians, not everyone is equally powerful, and those with power in magic have power in their world, while those less powerful are shunted off into obscurity, where they make handy targets for mockery when those more powerful need a bit of entertainment. It's a viciously class-based society, though magic as much as money determines class position. This England is profoundly sexist—which could be expected of any turn-of-the-century England. Both women and men have magic, but only men's magic is considered worth developing. The attitude is that any woman who attempts to study magic and to build her power will go mad long before she makes any real progress. This England is also profoundly homophobic, with Wilde's conviction for gross indecency only a few years in the past. Our two central characters are gay men: non-magical Robin and magical Edwin. Edwin's magic is weak. He's also brilliant, even if he is too bullied and uncertain. Edwin believes in the systematic study of magic, not just the casual passing along of practices that currently dominates the British magical world. The two men meet when Robin is assigned to an apparently dead-end civil service position as—surprise!—a non-magical liaison to a magical world that is completely new to him. Edwin is Robin's equivalent within the magical world. After this, the plot offers some familiar tropes, but only in the way that good stories tend to have common elements or arcs. Robin and Edwin fall in love (maybe) and battle complex powers of darkness that could accomplish who-knows-what-kinds-of-destruction. If any part of this summary might suggest that A Marvellous Light is the latest Harry Potter knock-off, let me assure you that it Most. Definitely. Is. Not. And here comes the ramble, which I admit ahead of time perhaps gives the gender binary a sort of confirmed existence that I don't mean to credit it with... I'm struck by the number of remarkably good books I've read in the last few years that are written by women (an assumption I'm making based on authors' names) but that are built around a passionate, yet fragile gay romance. Natasha Pulley offers an excellent example here with her three Watchmaker of Filigree Street titles and the stand-alone The Kingdoms. There's also Lindsay Faye's The King of Infinite Space. I can't abide straight romance, which I find ploddingly predictable. I also generally don't give a damn about how a straight romance works out. Because I'm a lesbian? Maybe. Because I've been immersed in that story line for my entire life and already know how the story ends? Definitely. But a romance that involves two men, that has room for the uncertainties and the vulnerabilities that the gender binary has no use for—that kind of romance can move me to tears. So what's that about? It's not as if gay men are anything new for me. But gay men created in detail by female writers seems to me both a particular accomplishment and a sign of the promising times we live in. The gender binary is breaking down—even if it's what led me to this line of thought. And that breakdown creates a wonderful flexibility within the world of love. We don't know all the ways we can be as humans, all the ways we can slide along that mythical but ever-present continuum of gender. "Things" are not what they once were, and I delight in the fact that the literary world is following (leading?) a broader, more celebrative path of human identity. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vee

    [9.20/10] K.J. Charles meets T.J. Klune meets C.L. Polk! On the odd occasion I will read a book where it feels like the author has reached inside my brain and plucked out every single thing I could possibly want in a story, and then put it on paper. I am (mostly) easy to please when it comes to being entertained, but it is only once or twice a year where I feel so utterly consumed by a story. Everything about A Marvellous Light felt tailored to my taste, even down to the title and Morris-inspired [9.20/10] K.J. Charles meets T.J. Klune meets C.L. Polk! On the odd occasion I will read a book where it feels like the author has reached inside my brain and plucked out every single thing I could possibly want in a story, and then put it on paper. I am (mostly) easy to please when it comes to being entertained, but it is only once or twice a year where I feel so utterly consumed by a story. Everything about A Marvellous Light felt tailored to my taste, even down to the title and Morris-inspired cover - it was my personality in book-form. I must caveat this review by saying that I've been obsessed with the idea of this book since Freya Marske tweeted out some early information about it in April 2020. I knew very little about it, but as the months went on my expectations sky-rocketed and there is nothing more satisfying than having your extremely-lofty-almost-impossible-to-live-up-to expectations met in every way. The book is set in Edwardian era Britain, where, after an administrative mishap, struggling civil servant, Robin, unearths a secret magical society kept hidden from the world. Robin's new job as liaison puts him in the path of Edwin and together they try to solve the mystery of a missing colleague, and an accidental curse that has been put upon Robin, all whilst their will-they-wont-they chemistry heats up. And heat up it does because this book is steamy! Historical romance is and always will be my first love because there is a whimsy to it that feels that much more escapist to me than any other genre (except perhaps middle grade fantasy.) And, I love it even more when it is both queer and magical. Marske seamlessly blends the historical elements with the fantasy, whilst having a really well plotted Holmesian mystery and a slow-burn queer romance that you're cheering for from the very beginning. Not only that but, for me, there was a perfect balance of character and plot, with sumptuous prose and extremely snappy dialogue. I have to thank Pan MacMillan and Tor for giving me the opportunity to listen to the audiobook early. I was absolutely delighted to see it was narrated by David Thorpe as I've previously enjoyed his narration of other books, including an all-time favourite, The Song of Achilles. He was the perfect narrator choice for A Marvellous Light, not just because of his voice acting range, but also for the gravitas that his voice lends to an Edwardian setting. If you're in the mood for a fun, magical and mysterious historical fantasy adventure, where queerness and uniqueness are celebrated and the romance reaches a high heat level, then get your pre-orders in asap!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    DNF @ 4%. I know I didn't give it much time, but when a book really doesn't interest you it's best to drop it sooner than later. DNF @ 4%. I know I didn't give it much time, but when a book really doesn't interest you it's best to drop it sooner than later.

  21. 4 out of 5

    lottie

    EDIT: PUBLICATION DAY!!!!!!!! sometimes when your mates give you Their Book to read it can be absolutely terrifying (think Nick Grimshaw worrying that he was gonna have to jump out of a moving car when Harry Styles played Sign of the Times for him), but reading this was a JOY. it was EVERYTHING I WANTED IN A BOOK. I forgot I was reading my friend's manuscript and DEVOURED IT LIKE A RAVENOUS BEAST 10/10 for everything. worldbuilding. character building. romance. plot. Epic Moments. FIRE SEX SCENE EDIT: PUBLICATION DAY!!!!!!!! sometimes when your mates give you Their Book to read it can be absolutely terrifying (think Nick Grimshaw worrying that he was gonna have to jump out of a moving car when Harry Styles played Sign of the Times for him), but reading this was a JOY. it was EVERYTHING I WANTED IN A BOOK. I forgot I was reading my friend's manuscript and DEVOURED IT LIKE A RAVENOUS BEAST 10/10 for everything. worldbuilding. character building. romance. plot. Epic Moments. FIRE SEX SCENES. I don't need to beg anyone to buy this book cos it's gonna sell itself, but I highly recommend it to fans of KJ Charles, country house mysteries with a twisteries, romance, books, the act of reading, etc. etc.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Esme N

    “I might be lacking one or two vital qualifications for this position.” The last thing baronet Robin Blythe needs is to be appointed as a civil service liaison to a hidden magical society. But when he inherits exactly that position due to administrative error, he is thrust into a world of curses, premonitions and the prickly company of his magical colleague Edwin Courcey. The magic system in this book was really very excellent. The creation of a spell is called “cradling” and younger/less powerfu “I might be lacking one or two vital qualifications for this position.” The last thing baronet Robin Blythe needs is to be appointed as a civil service liaison to a hidden magical society. But when he inherits exactly that position due to administrative error, he is thrust into a world of curses, premonitions and the prickly company of his magical colleague Edwin Courcey. The magic system in this book was really very excellent. The creation of a spell is called “cradling” and younger/less powerful magicians use cat’s cradle (aka scratch/catch cradle) string to construct their spells!! It’s very neat and made me nostalgic for the minor cases of rope burn synonymous with my youth. Often in romance-forward fantasy, plot is completely or partially abandoned. NOT HERE. SO GOOD. VERY EXCITING. Both Edwin and Robin spend SO much time thinking about how ridiculous it is that they find the other pretty or wondering about what their touch would feel like. It’s actually a miracle they got anything else done. Chapter 13 of this book was the PERFECT book chapter and I definitely see myself reading just that part of the book again. The entire book was written SO WELL though and absolutely found the sweet spot between accessible and poetic prose. My only complaint is that I began reading this under the impression it was a stand-alone, three days after it was released, and now I will have to wait lord knows how long to read the sequel. It’ll be worth it though. A Marvellous Playlist: - Vintage Red // Jay Jay Pistolet - God Only Knows // Edith Whiskers - NFWMB // Hozier This quote is one of many I could use to convince you to read this book: “If Edwin had turned and walked away from Robin in that first Monday, Reggie would still be dead, and Edwin wouldn’t have even the smallest scrap of a notion why. Robin would still be cursed. And Edwin wouldn’t have spent a week being mocked and half-killed and overwhelmed and - looked at like a miracle, and kissed like an explosion.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heron

    A Marvellous Light was easily one of my most anticipated 2021 releases. A queer, reluctant-allies-to-lovers fantasy romance with curses and magic and Edwardian vibes and a mystery plot to tie it all together? It had so many ingredients of stories I tend to love. Unfortunately, the combination and execution of A Marvellous Light didn’t work as well as I would have hoped for me personally. There were elements I enjoyed of this novel and I will start there. First, the prose and technical aspects of A Marvellous Light was easily one of my most anticipated 2021 releases. A queer, reluctant-allies-to-lovers fantasy romance with curses and magic and Edwardian vibes and a mystery plot to tie it all together? It had so many ingredients of stories I tend to love. Unfortunately, the combination and execution of A Marvellous Light didn’t work as well as I would have hoped for me personally. There were elements I enjoyed of this novel and I will start there. First, the prose and technical aspects of the writing were gorgeous, and there were lots of highlightable lines throughout. The worldbuilding felt easy to follow while still rich enough to give new life to a historical setting, and the descriptions of magic were lovingly written. I also appreciated the inclusion of several explicit queer sex scenes in a heavily marketed and traditionally published novel; while it can be easy to forget if you’re more familiar with indie publishing, it’s still a rarity to find in more ‘mainstream’ (for lack of a better word) novels. The mystery plotline was intriguing, and honestly was the element that hooked me and kept me reading. Even though the romance has one of my favourite pairings of himbo/nerd, I was never really sold on it. The dynamic reminded me a lot of those I have seen in the fanfiction sphere, particularly MLM fanfiction, and while that may work for some people (and has worked for me in different circumstances—obligatory ‘I love fanfiction, this is not an insult!’ disclaimer), I was not a huge fan personally. Moments that were meant to be heartfelt seemed lacking in chemistry, and even by the end, I wasn’t quite sure what our leads saw in each other. My main critique has to do with the treatment of women within this novel. The women who got page time in this novel were either 1) antagonistic/cruel/vapid 2) died within five pages of being introduced to further the character arc of one of the male leads 3) existed to motivate/soothe the male leads or 4) popped up in the nick of time and for the express purpose of providing a handy solution to a plot point for our male leads. In the case of the last point, they were also women of colour, which particularly rubbed me the wrong way. There were also no queer women to go along with our queer male leads (stated on page or that I was aware of), let alone any trans or nonbinary characters. It’s my hope that some of the women introduced in this novel get more page time and development as the series progresses, though I’m uncertain at this time if I’ll be continuing it. My second main critique which is definitely more personal in nature is that homophobia, sexism, and racism are all features in this world/universe. It’s based in Edwardian England so I understand these themes would have been prevalent, and I think these topics can and should be engaged with in meaningful ways. However, these were all accepted as fairly stock standard and barely challenged within the novel. On top of that, I have little patience for these elements featuring prominently in fantasy universes where the rules can be bent and changed even in a historical setting, especially when those assumptions aren’t pushed back against. This probably wasn’t helped by the fact that, in the same week that I finished A Marvellous Light, I read a historical romance book also set in Edwardian England where sexism, homophobia, and even notions of gender identity WERE challenged and discussed in meaningful ways (if not perfectly), so I had a fresh and direct comparison. Overall, I think this book just wasn’t the book for me for the reasons outlined above. For readers who would like a novel that reads like well-edited, character driven, erotic romance MLM fanfiction set in a historical fantasy universe, this one is worth checking out. I likely will not be continuing with the series, though I have enjoyed other published short fiction by Marske, so I will keep an eye out on her future endeavors. Thank you to Tordotcom and NetGalley for an advance reader copy. All opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    booksandzoe

    Thank you to Tor for sending me a physical copy and to Macmillan Audio for the audiobook version!! A Marvelous Light is a whimsical, retro sci-fi novel following two men on a quest. I must admit I'm not really a plot person, and this book is very much a plot-based book, so for some amount of the book I was rather uninterested. However, when the book gave more character development, background, and romance, it was fantastic. Much like my reading journey with Six of Crows, while the plot was a bit Thank you to Tor for sending me a physical copy and to Macmillan Audio for the audiobook version!! A Marvelous Light is a whimsical, retro sci-fi novel following two men on a quest. I must admit I'm not really a plot person, and this book is very much a plot-based book, so for some amount of the book I was rather uninterested. However, when the book gave more character development, background, and romance, it was fantastic. Much like my reading journey with Six of Crows, while the plot was a bit hard to get through for me at times (at no fault to the author, just personal preference) the character work and romantic development made it SO worth it. The romance between these two characters is electric, tender, and new. I'm so glad we're finally getting more queer love in the genre of adult sci-fi; there so much to love about their journey and how their romance develops in conjunction tot he surrealist magical backdrop of the book. I definitely recommend this if you're somebody who can enjoy a book with 80% plot, 20% character work/romance, and even if you're somebody who doesn't prefer plot, this book would still make a great read. As for the audiobook, I loved the narrator. The narrator's cadence felt very immersive to the time period, making the book just a bit more realistic. The narrator sounded a bit like John Oliver to me which was odd at some points... but that's not a complaint, just an observation.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caz

    4.5 stars Review to follow.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christine Sandquist

    AN UTTER DELIGHT IN EVERY WAY. I need to shove this into the hands of every single of of my friends immediately. Full review to come!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kahlia

    I expected to enjoy this book but it ultimately hit all of my very specific buttons: politics and civil service mishaps; nerdy librarians who really just like learning and discovery (rather than being twee about the power of stories); manor houses (with bonus lake scenes); characters who value each others interests and are very into seeing each other get nerdy about things. I read the whole thing in a few sittings and was grinning the entire time. I'm very keen to see where this series goes next I expected to enjoy this book but it ultimately hit all of my very specific buttons: politics and civil service mishaps; nerdy librarians who really just like learning and discovery (rather than being twee about the power of stories); manor houses (with bonus lake scenes); characters who value each others interests and are very into seeing each other get nerdy about things. I read the whole thing in a few sittings and was grinning the entire time. I'm very keen to see where this series goes next and I really hope one of the following romances features Miss Adelaide Morrissey because a) I loved her and b) if there's one thing I'd like it's for this series to poke at the racist/sexist elements of bureaucracy in a way that Robin and Edwin couldn't.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bookphenomena (Micky)

    Headlines: Historical fantasy in England (early 1900s is my guess) Hidden magic revealed Mysterious plot and peril A Marvellous Light really was a great debut novel, bringing that genre I love of historical fantasy and spotlighting a gay relationship in that era. This was the kind of read that I liked as soon as I dipped my toe into but it still took me a little while to truly get into it. When I did, I appreciated the unfolding magical world in historical England and most of all, I adored the conne Headlines: Historical fantasy in England (early 1900s is my guess) Hidden magic revealed Mysterious plot and peril A Marvellous Light really was a great debut novel, bringing that genre I love of historical fantasy and spotlighting a gay relationship in that era. This was the kind of read that I liked as soon as I dipped my toe into but it still took me a little while to truly get into it. When I did, I appreciated the unfolding magical world in historical England and most of all, I adored the connection that began to evolve between Edwin and Robin. Looking back over the story as a whole, the plot really was rather clever. If I had moments of fogginess over what was happening, clarity did come without me feeling overly confused. The rules of the magical world and what was happening with Robin had a pressing sense of urgency, I was willing things to resolve. There was intelligence and wit throughout. “I can’t believe we were almost killed by a hedge.” These two really were chalk and cheese, both in magical power and lack of but also in personality, physicality and communication. I particularly loved Robin, his openness, generosity of feeling and willingness to go with the flow. The chemistry between these two rose off the page… “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.” There were a few periods in the book that felt a bit pacey, but if you feel that too, it’s worth pushing through. I didn’t like Edwin’s family at all and some of that focus was longer reading for me. I would definitely recommend this read to you. It read authentically in terms of context and culture to my knowledge (and limitations) and I’m really pleased this is a series. I’ll be turning up for the next book! Rating is rounded up. Thank you to Tor Books and Black Crow PR for the review copy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Aubert

    An absolute delight if you enjoy fantasy romance! For me, A Marvellous Light balances the romantic and fantastic subplots expertly, making for an entirely enjoyable experience. While there has to be some suspension of disbelief - the entire story, after all, takes place over the course of two weeks and I think you need to feel invested in the romance in order to enjoy the book as whole - the relationship develops organically and each character is nuanced enough to be believable. Though much of t An absolute delight if you enjoy fantasy romance! For me, A Marvellous Light balances the romantic and fantastic subplots expertly, making for an entirely enjoyable experience. While there has to be some suspension of disbelief - the entire story, after all, takes place over the course of two weeks and I think you need to feel invested in the romance in order to enjoy the book as whole - the relationship develops organically and each character is nuanced enough to be believable. Though much of the romantic tension relies on social mores of restraint and politesse (which works so well to keep you reading!), there are several explicit scenes, so you need to gauge your own romance preferences before starting. The novel employs a soft magic system with some nature-based elements, which is always a win for me, and the exploration of magic and power within the context of Edwardian society makes for an interesting read. Altogether, this maintained exquisite romantic tension, had a compelling central mystery, and created a fun soft-magic system that I liked seeing in action. While not an all-time favourite, I'll enjoy continuing along for the rest of the series and would recommend to anyone looking for a fast-paced Fantasy Romance.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jane (whatjanereads)

    My friend forced me to read this and I didn’t even have a single clue what it was about when I started it. And then this book happened and totally swept me off my feet. A hidden magical world in the 1900s and poor (unmagical) Robin being thrown into it without a warning, simply because someone made a mistake. I loved Robin and I especially loved Edwin, and most of all I loved these two together!!! Opposites attract and found family all at once. Miss Morrisey and her sister were a delight and I’m so g My friend forced me to read this and I didn’t even have a single clue what it was about when I started it. And then this book happened and totally swept me off my feet. A hidden magical world in the 1900s and poor (unmagical) Robin being thrown into it without a warning, simply because someone made a mistake. I loved Robin and I especially loved Edwin, and most of all I loved these two together!!! Opposites attract and found family all at once. Miss Morrisey and her sister were a delight and I’m so glad they formed a sort of friendship in the end. I hope we’ll see even more of her in the following book. It was super gripping and unpredictable and simply…magical! The narrator was amazing and I think he was picked perfectly for this book. There wasn’t a single second of this I felt bored and I just wanted more and I still need MORE! Give be book 2! Now!

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