Cover Image: A Restless Truth

A Restless Truth

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Member Reviews

Book two in the series follows the adventures of a secondary character from the first book. A pleasant, engaging, 'what happens next?' read, including a somewhat graphic romance subplot between two women, that never gets too dark. It's nicely set up to bring both halves of the story together in book three, which I look forward to.
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We're back in my favorite magical world! Which is our world in early 1900s England, but, you know, magical. This is the second installment in a series, I highly recommend reading the first one first, and if the cover and blurb didn't make it clear, it's super duper gay. 

And oh, it was nice to be back. Marske's writing is just lovely, and she's an expert at pairing action/adventure with historical fantasy and swoony/steamy romance. It's an excellent recipe, and she handles it deftly. Maud was a great protagonist, and it was fun to be inside her head after having her as a secondary character in the first book. The steam was steamy, the plot was twisty, it added more depth to the world, and it was an overall good time. 

It didn't have quite the same sparkle to me as the first installment, but I think that's more commentary on me than the book. I wanted a bit more time for yearning and slow moments, but overall I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next one.
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This sequel to A Marvelous Light builds on the magical world we were introduced to in that novel with an entirely new cast of characters (well, mostly new). Maud Blythe is on her way back from America on a White Star Line cruise ship when her bunkmate (and magical elder) is murdered. The race for important magical items and the search for her murderer ensues without ever leaving the confines of the ship itself. I loved Maud and Violet (and Hawthorn!) and found the closed door mystery a super fun way to explore this world even more.
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Maud Blyth is going to England as a companion to Mrs. Elizabeth Navenby.  Mrs. Navenby is murdered and it's up to Maud to find out who murdered her.  She meets Miss Violet Debenham at dinner and they strike up a friendship.  A murder mystery set at sea is a perfect type of "locked room" sort of story but there are lost of places to explore, people to meet and a finite amount of time in which to solve said mystery before shore is reached.  I am terrible at mysteries but I enjoyed every hint, twist, turn and red herring along the way.
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I loved A Marvellous Light and was so excited for this book! I adored Maud in the first book and loved getting to know more about her and her upbringing. I also thought she had great chemistry with Violet and I appreciated that Marske was not afraid to depict on page intimacy between the two women! It was a great read!
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Mostly enjoyed the beginning but then the plot started to drag a bit for me. I ended up dnfing this one at around the halfway mark but might try again in the future.
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This book definitely suffers from a bit of middle book syndrome. I enjoyed it because I enjoy the way that Freya Marske writes and the atmosphere she creates. Like A Marvellous Light, this book mixed important conversations about self with sexual tension and witty banter. I was constantly tabbing beautiful lines or hilarious dialogue. 

I liked the relationship in this book. I was apprehensive when I learned that the sequel would follow Maud as I found her aggravating in book one. Though she is still incredibly naive, she becomes aware of it over the course of the book. Her journey of self-discovery was enjoyable and made me like her character a lot more. Violet was a very interesting love interest and honestly, I think I liked her character more than Maud. She fits a lot of the classic male love interest stereotypes. Watching her figure out how to fit Maud into her life was amazing. 

The main flaw of this book is that it is way too damn long. A Marvellous Light lagged a bit in the middle, but the pacing issue was glaringly obvious in A Restless Truth. A lot of the complicating actions in the book felt like they were there just to drag the story out. There were a lot of repetitive moments with the mystery to the point that it lost a lot of its tension. A lot of things happened through convenience or the stupidity of a character. Rather than focusing solely on the mystery for 400 pages, I would've liked to see the characters live a normal life on the ship. From a logical sense, it would have made them a lot less suspicious. It also would have provided some amazing moments for character progression and relationship building and would've filled out the slack in the middle of the book. 

A Restless Truth had very big shoes to fill after my complete obsession with A Marvellous Light. I enjoyed the setup of A Marvellous Light a lot more. The curse created a constant tension that led to some fabulous scenes between Robin and Edwin. It also felt like more happened in book one, despite it being about 30 pages shorter. I honestly don't think I even expected to like A Restless Truth as much as its predecessor. So I wouldn't say I was disappointed, rather my expectations were simply met.

I am optimistic for book three, though I admit I am curious (and a little bit afraid) to find out whose perspective we will be following.
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A Restless Truth is the sapphic, sea faring sequel to A Marvellous Light— one of my favorite reads last year. Filled with swashbuckling good fun, a twisty mystery and plenty of steam, it is a great companion to the world Marske set up with Edwin and Robin in a magical Victorian England. 

I am such a massive fan of Marske’s writing and love her clever, fast paced writing style so was extremely excited to get stuck into A Restless Truth. Just like A Marvellous Light, it combined both a fascinating, delicately complex and original magic system with likeable characters and just enough quick paced plot to keep me interested.

The story follows our two main characters— Maud, sister of Robin and determined problem solved, and Violent, recent heiress and all around bit of a likeable scoundrel. The mystery and danger of the last contract still looms, brought closer by a sort of magical treasure hunt on the close quarters of a White Star Line ship. 

Admittedly, I didn’t like it quite as much as it’s predecessor, but there was so much I adored about the story. For one, Marske writes excellent romance. Maud and Violet’s relationship had the perfect mix between spice and emotional depth to make it convincing and enjoyable. Both characters had distinct voices and motivations, and I loved the character arc side of the story the most. I desperately wish that only half the story was set on a boat so we got a better look at their relationship outside of the close quarters of the ship. 

Which brings me to the main reason I didn’t enjoy A Restless Truth as much as it’s predecessor— I’m not massively fond of stories set all in the same location. By not having the variety of background to play around with, the plot has to rely a lot of pure character interaction to move it forward. This isn’t necessarily a critique, and Marske plays out the trope very well, but it’s just not to my personal taste. I found myself getting a bit bored at times though I really did enjoy the book overall.

If you’re a fan of historical fantasy, witty dialogue, sapphic romance and a mystery plot line, A Restless Truth will definitely be for you. And also, I’m *extremely* intrigued about who I’m guessing the couple will be in the next book. Fingers crossed!

4/5 stars
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I have been waiting for this book all year!  I read A Marvelous Light (Part #1 in The Last Binding Series) back in February and loved it! This is a queer historical fantasy romance set in Edwardian England. Some fans of book 1 may be disappointed that Robin and Edwin don't make much of an appearance here, as the story focusses on Robin's sister Maud and her new acquaintance, Violet Debenham.  But never fear, Maud and Violet's chemistry is just as fun.

A Restless Truth is set aboard a White Star ocean liner during a one week voyage across the Atlantic. Maud has been sent to escort Elizabeth Navenby from New York to England, but things begin to go horribly wrong on the very first night. Along the way Maud enlists the help of Violet and Lord Hawthorne, (whose character is expanded from the previous novel in wonderful ways!), to protect one of the three pieces of the Last Contract. Together, they also must discern who onboard among over 1.000 passengers is part of the cabal to take its power for their own. 

As with A Marvelous Light, Marske immerses the reader in a lavish period specific setting. The ocean liner provides the "closed room" feel for the mystery and also heightens the tension as the story builds due to the fact that no one can get on or off the boat until it reaches its destination. Nevertheless, the Titanic-esk  liner provides room for dinners, balls, games, and even a seance! There are multiple twists that move the story forward, but Marske also takes time for some super sexy spice. (At least 🌶️🌶️🌶️..5 out of 5 for this sheltered girl!)

Even so, there is only so much development that can be done towards the overall arc of the series in isolating Maude from Robin and the other major players in the first installment. By the end this felt frustrating to me. 
While I love what Marske does here, I am yearning to get back to the bigger picture and how it all connects to the larger, wonderfully bureaucratic and corrupt world built in the first novel. 

I believe Marske plans to introduce a third couple in book three (and many fans are already speculating as to who they might be from the side characters in AML!) but I hope it's not at the expense utilizing the 4 characters we have grown to love in these first 2 books as an ensemble. I so want to see Edwin, Robin, Maud and Violet all working together! But of course, this might very well be the plan all along. . .by keeping them separated here we are that much more primed for what is still left to come in book three! 

I am already looking for the title and release date info! 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Tor publishing for granting me access to an eARC of this novel in exchange for an independent and fair review.
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This was such a good book! I love the world, the characters, and the mystery. The romance in it was also very real.
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Look, I LOVE a good queer woman pulp mystery novel, but I couldn't bring myself to completely fall for this one. I think this is largely because once again it lands in the Fantasy Romance bucket compared to my proffered form, Romantic Fantasy (the former being relationship focused, the latter being plot focus). From the get-go I enjoyed the both siblings are gay representation (there are tens of us) although Maud as a character began to grate on me after a while. I adored Violet, and enjoyed seeing her relationship with Maud evolve into one of trust and mutual affection (despite its VERY rapid evolution, but hey, that in itself is queer woman core). I know I'm in the minority here, but I did get kind of annoyed whenever Robin or Edwin was name dropped - I very much wanted this to feel like Violet and Maud's book (which it did by and large) but the frequent references began to take me out of it. The pacing was...fine. There was no way around things feeling rushed when the whole story takes place over six days on a boat that can only stretch so large. I think the superseding issues is that my tastes stylistically just don't line up with Marske's tendency towards the gooey and trope-filled.
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For someone who doesn't care for whodunits or cozy mysteries as a general rule, this is the second time in two weeks I've loved one--although it doesn't hurt that this really is, as the previous reviewer says, KNIVES OUT with lesbians on a boat! Also, second books in trilogies often have a lot of heavy lifting to do and I appreciated that A RESTLESS TRUTH managed to pull it off, balancing the immediate murder mystery plot with continuing the overall magical conspiracy arc begun in A MARVELLOUS LIGHT. And the characters were delightful, as was Maud and Violet's romance, which I am looking forward to seeing continue--since we only get the first week of it here--in the next book (along with Hawthorn and Alan's story, of course).
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“…you look at the world and decide you can live with it or decide you can’t. And if you can’t, you decide what you’re prepared to do about it.”

Lesbian “Knives Out” on a boat could not be a more perfect description of this sharp, sexy book. A RESTLESS TRUTH is the second in The Last Binding trilogy, a historical fantasy series set in Edwardian England. This book carries over the story started with A MARVELLOUS LIGHT but with a new set of central characters: Maud (Robin’s younger sister) and the heretofore unknown Violet. It’s a murder mystery and a romance, with equal parts intrigue and chemistry, as well as a talking bird, a charmed coat, and a diverse collection of pornography. I loved the setting of a massive passenger ship during a six-day ocean voyage; the constraint of space and time was captivating, and I like how it allowed this story to focus on the new characters. The main pairing is very compelling: Maud, with her fierce stubbornness and desire for knowledge, and Violet, with her many faces protecting her soft, wounded heart. And like the previous book, there’s plenty of intimacy laced with magic. I was thrilled to see more of the Forsythia Club and I can’t wait to get my hands on book three to learn how the battle for the Last Contract will end. Also, I’m predicting Hawthorne and Ross are the two queers central to the final installment; their prickly banter definitely felt like a setup for something more. Thanks to Tordotcom for the eARC! This book is out 11/1.

Content warnings: attempted assault, injury/blood, violence, death, period-typical homophobia/racism
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The entirety of the novel takes place onboard a ship and this time around the romance is sapphic. Marske adds many layers to the Last Contract story here with flashbacks to the original founding of the Forsythia Club, mediums who can be possessed by ghosts, the addition of three more people to Edwin and Robin’s side, and a non-magician at least partially immune to magic.

This was all good fun, but we’re still only hearing secondhand about the marvelous powers discovered and developed by the members of the Forsythia Club. I can’t help but feel the even more fascinating stories would be about those ladies in their heyday rather than our current charming if motley crew.
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This book was a great follow up to A Marvelous Light. The continuation of the overarching story with a new set of characters was fun  - and I very much enjoyed that it avoided the pitfalls common to sequels. Maud and Violet were wonderful characters to follow, and the further exploration of the frigid Lord Hawthorne was also welcome. While A Restless Truth was a wildly different sort of mystery than its predecessor, it worked very well, reminiscent of Agatha Christie in its setting and its twists. It was a very fun read and I look forward to the series' next installment.
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Great sequel! I enjoyed learning so much more about this magical world.  The new characters were fascinating and getting a deeper dive into Lord Hawthorne's character. I did miss Robin and Edwin though.
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As soon as I heard 'murder mystery on a boat with lesbians,' I requested a netgalley (and also because I adored A Marvellous Light). While Maud and Violet took a little longer to grow on me than Robin and Edwin did in the previous book, they did grow on me. Their arc together was one of the book's biggest strengths, along with some really fun Group Plotting scenes. It was particularly interesting to see another side to Hawthorn that we didn't get in the previous book. Overall, this book was a light, fun read with some good character moments.
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Where to begin! A Marvellous Light was instantly one of my favorite books upon finishing it and when I went to find out more and found out its sequel was going to be about Robin's sister and sapphic? I was so incredibly excited. A Restless Truth already starts on an exciting leg, having left off with Robin and Edwin's unfinished business, and it was a ride all the way through to the end where I was waiting on edge to see how and when and if Maud would make it back to her brother successfully. 

The way the characters discussed liminal spaces was something I personally enjoyed since it's one of my favorite words and type of spaces that can exist and I think it worked very well as the setting for this leg of The Last Binding's story. 

And I know that something being described as "queer" used to have different connotations, but when Maud said something about a "queer feeling" it had me giggling at the double meaning. I also loved that there was a continual discussion of consent and not just limited to sex. 

Even though the stories are about magic and fantasy, the way that Marske also makes the stories about families and the way people do things out of love or spite or a combination of both from their roots.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor for making this available in exchange for an honest review!

EDIT: I cannot believe I forgot this in my initial posting, but the parallel of Violet and Maud with Flora and Beth, I really loved that in a bittersweet way. The way that Flora and Beth didn’t have the chance that Violet and Maud might. Also as I’m typing this, there’s even the parallel in their names: Violet and Flora, oh my gosh, I love it.
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The magic was ambiguous and the steamy scenes were not. I really needed those things to be reversed within this only okayish (thought sufficiently convoluted) plot.
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This is nice, but I was thrown by the tone and pacing, which seemed very different from what I remembered from book 1.  The tone does match well with the main character-- who was portrayed, from my perspective, as a person with strong ADHD symptoms.  One lesbian character and two bisexual characters, with a sweet f/f romance.

I read [book:A Marvellous Light|53217284] 6 months ago and remembered enough to follow.  The books should definitely be read in order, but don't necessarily need to be back to back.

eARC from NetGalley.
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