Cover Image: A Marvellous Light

A Marvellous Light

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Member Reviews

An absolutely marvelous book (pun intended). I had a hard time following along with the audiobook because I tend to multi-task and kept losing track of which lead was speaking. I ended up buying the hardcover when it came out. I absolutely recommend it to those who like alternative history, fantasy or romance
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4 stars      
      
Mazes & magical hedges! Grumpy civil servants! A magical curse! This is a really fun adventure story with a heartwarming romance. I look forward to book two!
  
[What I liked:]

•The magical system is pretty interesting, & well developed as part of the world building. It’s cool how spells are built in phrases, sort of like there’s a grammar or mathematical formula you can apply to mix & match & create new elements. It’s also interesting how the blood connection to land magic works, all the curse/foresight/tongue binding stuff, etc. Ooh, & plant magic! There is much to explore in future books!
 
•The plot is decently full of twists, spanners in the works, creative solutions to problems, & narrative tension. This book strikes a good balance between resolving the main conflicts by the end while also opening up longer term problems to pursue in the next book.

•Robin & Edwin have a very convincing romantic & personal connection. They both get to grow as people over the course of the story, are vulnerable with one another, own up to mistakes & try better, & seem to really care for one another. Plus, they have some cute/snarky dialogue moments.


[What I didn’t like as much:]

•Some of the side characters (particularly Robin’s sister & Edwin’s older brother) felt a bit one dimensional. Hopefully that will be remedied in book two, since I expect both will show up again.

•Some of the dialogue is a bit awkward or on the nose. It isn’t terrible, but there is room for improvement. 

CW: sexism, homophobia, murder, physical violence, racism, torture

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]
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I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I hadn't listened to it. I did not care for the audiobook narrator. The voices he chose for the women in the story were strange choices to make and really took me out of it. The story itself was interesting and I eventually started to like the romance but initially I thought Edwin was being a jerk to Robin. I was really worried that it was going to be hard for me to like Edwin. He eventually turned it around. I will say that I am not a fan of the time period chosen for this story but I am not usually a fan of historical fiction so that's probably why I did not like the time period.
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This was a such a cool magic system and I adored how even at the end we don't find out that suddenly our main characters have all the magic in the world. I also appreciated the relationships in this book, from the budding romance to the family dynamics from the ostracized members perspective.
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This one was, in a word, boring. Too much "comedy of manners" and not enough brilliant, intricate magic. Both Robin and Edwin are rather boring characters, and while we start with them in an interesting situation, we are so often distracted from the actual plot (curses! attempted murder! mysterious magical artifacts!) with what felt to me like unimportant nonsense.

The descriptions were lavish and I appreciated how we got to see the tiniest pictures of how differently magic looks for the upper class (ie Edwin's family playing practical jokes and getting up to mischief) versus the lower classes (ie maids healing cuts and lighting fires and mending clothes), but they were tiny and other than some very vague explanations, we have no idea how magic works, how one learns it, what kind of specialties there are, or even what it looks like outside of England.

And we are supposed to be chasing this artifact (or artifacts?) without knowing what it does, who wants it, and what it means. We were taking the magnifying glass to what felt to me like all the wrong things.
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I am a huge fan of the magical house trope and this book did not disappoint! I would call this a top tier historical romantic fantasy. It’s gorgeously written, fun and has a good amount of steamy romance that I enjoyed. 

Even though in my opinion this book does start out slow and the first part was hard for me to get into, it definitely picks up and the story that we are given is rich. Everything from characters to plot had me captivated. I would recommend this to my customers without a doubt and have even purchased it for a few friends who I know will love it.
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I received this as an audio galley to listen to for free in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for giving me access.

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Let me break it down.

LOVE: 
- The storyline
- The characters 
- The cover
- The smut
- Queer representation

HATE:
- The word c*ck being used as a descriptive word every other word in ever sex scene. 

I am all for queer smut, but please for the love of all things, use more than one word to describe the male appendage. This just turned me away from it and ruined the story for me. Hopefully the next book uses more adjectives, otherwise I won't be able to continue.
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I guess I should have realized that this book was going to seem so "historical" and such fantasy but I didn't, so it took me a little while to realize what I was in for and get comfortable but I really enjoyed this book.  I"d caution anyone about the high "steam" level before I recommended it to them, but overall I found it to be slightly out of my comfort zone but very enjoyable.  There is something that feels a little reserved though... definitely not the actual steam in the book, but maybe its just the overall historical feeling of it that kept me from feeling extremely connected to the characters.  Would love to read about Robin's sister in her own book.
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Thank you to NetGalley for your ARC of this book

Set in an alternate magical, historical England this was a bit adventure, a bit romance, and overall lovely. 
I really enjoying the magical system, it was not something I had read before and was explained well. I could practically picture the Edwin using his string to conjure with. World building was well done also, I had a good sense of how magic fit into the "regular" world without feeling like it was dumped on my in few over wrought pages of packed information. 
Narrator was good overall, but there could have been a little more distinction between main characters, as the action switched between them 

I did wish that some of the minor female characters were explored a little more- Adelaide and her sister especially could fill a whole book with their own adventures I think!
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I bounced off of this book and could not get into the story, unfortunately. The premise really intrigued me, but I had difficulty staying invested in the proceedings. I found the narration to be a bit stilted and that may have contributed to my difficulty with this one.
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A sexy, thrilling yet funny paranormal (essentially). This is like KJ Charles with Susanna Clarke. The homoeroticism comes hard and fast (pun intended). I loved the humor, but found the violence a little too much to be honest. I would recommend this to fans of gay romance.
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A Marvellous Light is a historical fiction/fantasy/romance about a cranky, disrespected magician finally getting the guy. 

Robin is a charismatic and charming titled aristocrat, to the point that he is mistaken for living a worry-free life of ease. In truth, he is broke and will accept any position he is appointed to because he needs the money. Edwin is the younger son in a family of wealthy magicians, mocked and tormented by his family for having the least amount of power of them all. 

Robin and Edwin are forced to work together in the positions they have both been unwillingly thrust into, and are forced into an unlikely friendship that evolves into more. I love that the cranky, acerbic nerd eventually gets the hottest guy in the room. I really enjoyed the character building and the absence of instalove. The story ended on a very exciting cliffhanger and I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series.

The audio narration was wonderful. He did a beautiful job animating the emotions of characters.
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This book was a lot of fun! And I LOVED the audiobook. I don’t know where “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” meets “Red, White and Royal Blue” came from, because Robin can best be described as a himbo, with no magical abilities but SOME lightbulbs on upstairs, and has a grace and ease in social situations Edwin Courcey doesn’t have. Edwin’s looked down upon by his family and acquaintances for having little magic—hand gestures required for “cradling” a spell he actually needs string for to cradle. He was bullied by his father and is still horribly bullied by his brother. Robin and Maud left practically penniless by narcissistic parents who donated pretty much all their money to charity for appearances brings its own form of family issues.

There could’ve been a little more fleshing out of the magical world building, but that would’ve required an info dump. There’s enough revealed to allow the story of Edwin and Robin to shine through. I do admit that based on the magic-based fairytale we learn of in the novel, I saw the villain that plagued Robin and by association Edwin as someone COMPLETELY different, and off-camera. I still may be proven right in the next book, but when we learn who’s behind the attack on Edwin’s former coworker and then Robin, the explanation is kind of muddled, and the reader was hoping for a different outcome with this antagonist entirely. But it sets up a bigger world, and more magic, so, can’t wait for the next book in the series!
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Definitely New Adult. I loved that the protag doesn't know a single thing about magic and that his education isn't up in your face, it's quite natural. Robin's chronic pain (via a curse) was quite relatable as a disabled person myself. The chemistry between the leads starts super slow but builds up to a wonderful crescendo. Definitely a great adult addition to my "HP Alternatives" shelf. 

Readalikes: [book:The Queer Principles of Kit Webb|55338994], [book:Silver in the Wood|43459657]

Thank you to NetGalley for preview versions of both the ebook and the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
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Such a solid read and I enjoyed it overall. However, I don’t really read in this genre but I do want to start reading more. The audiobook has a great narrator and was very well done!
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In many stories, magic serves as a brilliant light upon the world, a light that is often hidden from those who are unable to share in its wonders. In many of the worlds portrayed by those stories, that light is lit within some, or sometimes many, of the people who populate the world of the story.

But with the presence of light comes its absence – darkness. Humans, whether magical or not, already have more than enough of that within themselves. Magic, whether for good or for ill, is power. And as the cliché explains all too well, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Thus, A Marvellous Light is a story about magic, and about the revealing of magic to someone who has none. But just as the light of magic is “unbusheled” for Robin Blyth, so too is the darkness that surrounds it – and him – cast into the darkest of shadows. Shadows that threaten to swallow him before he ever learns what is hidden within them.

But Robin has more experience with the darkness created by brilliant lights than anyone might ever suspect. And in the person of his reluctant guide, Edwin Courcey, he has a partner who has been battered by those shadows for far too long. Someone who might be willing to help Robin find his own light – and share it.

If they’re smart enough – well that’s Courcey’s department. If they’re brave enough – that’s Robin all over. And if they can find their way to the heart of the puzzle before it’s too late. For themselves. For their loved ones. For their country.

And for each other.

Escape Rating A-: A Marvellous Light is a story about power and privilege. Yes, it’s about the power of magic, but it’s also about the power of money, the power of knowledge, the power of social position and about all the privileges that power can buy, especially for those who are so steeped in its exercise that they can’t even see those with less power as people. Even when they are members of their own families.

It’s also a flamboyantly beautiful story, set in a world as complex and intricate as the Morris prints that Robin Blyth loves.

But it’s the “casual, unthinking malice” of nearly every person with magic that makes this book a frequently uncomfortable read, particularly in the early stages where it seems like all the jokes are on poor Robin and everyone else, including Edwin Courcey, is part of the circle laughing around him.

At least until the reader, along with Robin, figures out that Edwin’s cold, brusque manner is a defensive mechanism to cover up, well, pretty much everything that he feels about everything in his life, including, most especially, his casually, maliciously cruel family.

Because Edwin has been the butt of those exactly same painful “jokes” for his entire life, while Robin has only been suffering from them for a few days. And Robin has much, much better armor against them because the scars don’t run nearly so deep.

Someone has learned that objects of power in the magical world have resurfaced after centuries of quiescence. Forces are arrayed to procure those objects – no matter who or what stands in their way. Or how much collateral damage they do in the search. Starting with Edwin Courcey’s colleague and continuing through Robin, the civil servant assigned through malice – again malice – to take that man’s place.

Drawn to each other by happenstance, by circumstance, by affinity and by shared pain as well as shared inclinations, Edwin and Robin embark on a quest to thwart their opposition, never realizing that it will lead them to the highest circles of power – and back into the rotten heart of Edwin’s family.

But they’ll have each other – if they can just get past their own fears and their individual heartbreaks, and accept a bit of help from some surprising people along the way. It can be enough – if they just let it.

One final thing, something that took me until the next morning to figure out, and now I feel like I just got unbusheled. Or hit with a clue-by-four. Throughout the story, they’re all aware that something huge and terrible is coming, and much of what happens is due to too many people taking desperate and wrong-headed methods to stop that thing or overpower it. The “thing” that is coming, the doom that is hanging over all their heads, is World War I.

Which may not happen for quite a while during the course of this series, The Last Binding, of which A Marvellous Light is merely the first marvellous part. I searched high and low for a title and publication for the next book in this series, but it has not been “unbusheled”. At least not yet. But I live in hope that it will be soon.

Reviewer’s Note: I listened to the first third of this one, until it got past the really uncomfortable, tooth-gritting bits. Not that Edwin’s family got any better – actually they got worse – but once it heads towards Edwin and Robin against the world the pace picked up, the magic got even more fascinating and at least some of the awfulness became part of the much larger point. And I was hooked.
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An absolute delight!

If you love Slippery Creatures, Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, and Sorceror to the Crown; you are bound to enjoy this book as well.

It's clever and cute and fun and heartwarming. I can't wait for the next installment. 

The audio version of this story is quite good and kept me listening happily. Thank you to Netgalley and MacMillan for access to this ARC
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What a fantastic audiobook!

I think David Thorpe was a perfect choice as narrator, and he handled the different voices extremely well. I was engaged throughout the entire book and it's definitely one I'll come back to! A great audiobook for a great story. Five stars!

Thanks to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for the audio galley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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I really enjoyed A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske, but I must say that the book's description really does not prepare the reader for the amount of steamy scenes. It's to the point that I'm not evens sure what I would choose as the main classification- fantasy or romance? 

I was given access to the Audiobook ARC and while it took me a while to get used to David Thorpe's narration style and voice I LOVED his ability to distinguish between characters when we switched POVs, it was fascinating to hear how Edwin and Robin sounded when they were narrating vs. how they sounded to the other person - all within Thorpe's voice. It was a great production.  

Overall, the plot was perfectly rooted in Edwardian London while still leaving room for relationships and people that would have been been kept on the fringes - LGBTQ main characters and a prominent side character of Indian heritage. The plot was well thought out, for needing to subvert a curse and solve a fantastic mystery that could impact everyone who posses magic in this world, and this leaves a lot of room for the rest of the trilogy to expand on the word done within A Marvellous Light. Overall, I think I would have liked more world building, as far as the magical home (Sutton Cottage) and lay lines are concerned, and greater insight into the mechanics of the magic system. This was far from perfect BUT it was thrilling, sweet, and steamy enough to keep me interested for subsequent releases from Markse. This also has great recommendation potential because there is a little something for everyone within these pages.
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This is one of those books that is just great in every regard! Lovable characters. Chemistry-filled romance. Hot sex. Interesting plot. Unique magic. Smooth writing.

Robin and Edwin were both lovable characters. Robin for his outgoing, charismatic, boisterous, brave nature. Edwin for his bookish, reserved, intellectual, somewhat anxious nature. Both had depth and struggles. I felt for them both when I learned about those struggles or they came up in the story.

The romance was great. I fully believed it and felt the chemistry. At one point, one of them thought about how it was wild they’d only known each other for a week, or something like that, and in my head, I thought, “Oh, wow, it seems like longer than that!” because the author did such a great job of showing their time together and showing them growing closer. It felt so natural. But I think they didn’t use the word “love” yet, which I appreciated, though I’m certain it’s in their future.

And the sex… It gets its own paragraph, because it was that good. The sex scenes were so tailored to these specific characters and their kinks and desires and feelings, and there was such a strong connection and chemistry between the characters, and sometimes they even had magic involved, and they were overall just really great.

The plot was good too, with some mystery and danger. It made sense and worked well alongside the romance to bring the characters closer. It also added a bit of action sometimes.

That magic was interesting, with a system that involved hand movements.

The audiobook, narrated by David Thorpe, was enjoyable. He brought a lot of life and animation to the characters and the right emotion when needed. Characters didn’t sound super different but were different enough that I could tell them apart. He had an English accent (to match the setting of the book).

Overall, I really liked everything about this book, from the lovable characters to the unique magic to the scorching hot sex, and I’m definitely looking forward to more books in this series!
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