Cover Image: A Restless Truth

A Restless Truth

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After A Marvellous Light ended up being one of my favorite books of 2021, there was absolutely zero doubt that A Restless Truth was going to be one of my most anticipated releases of 2022. Freya Marske has created such a wonderful, fascinating world in this series that is full of beautiful prose, atmospheric description that makes your heart ache for this secret magical version of England, and a colorful cast of characters that you love and hate in equal measure.

The description of A Restless Truth as "Knives Out on a boat" is an apt one, though I might have opted for a "Death on the Nile" label myself. The long and short of it: murder mystery and romance and all of the related drama on a ship. Maud Blyth (masquerading as "Maud Cutler") is on a mission on behalf of her brother, Robin, to speak to Elizabeth Navenby, second member of the all-female Forsythia Club who rediscovered the mystical and dangerous Last Contract. Maud needs to protect Mrs. Navenby and her piece of the Last Contract from those who would use it for evil in England - problem is, Mrs. Navenby is murdered almost immediately after they set sail. Maud is left with the notes of her brother's visions of the future, a particularly vulgar parrot, and the knowledge that the murderer is trapped somewhere on the ship with them. She turns to Violet Debenham, scandalous actress and magician from Robin's visions, for help - both with the murder, and with figuring out exactly what she wants out of her own life.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the story itself, because the twists and turns of A Restless Truth are such a delight to discover throughout the story. It gives us a delightful new view into magic and this world that we didn't get to see in the first book of the series, and it does the almost impossible task of making Lord Hawthorn into a... likable character? He's pompous and hilariously obnoxious in every scene, balancing well against Maud's outright earnestness and tenacity. She was sent on this mission for a reason, and she refuses to fail, and that shines through in every scene that she is in. Violet, meanwhile, is a fascinating combination of secrets and high walls and queenly beauty whose practicality makes her a perfect match (in every sense of the word) for Maud.
Even the glimpses of Robin and Edwin that we get through Maud's memories and thoughts are lovely - scenes of warmth and caring that depict a couple comfortable in their relationship.

Arguably the only tiny weakness I found in A Restless Truth was in the setting. The middle of the book seemed to drag just in that it was missing that beautiful atmospheric setting that was so utterly present in A Marvellous Light, trapped on a ship in the middle of the ocean as everyone was. But overall this is such a perfect follow up to A Marvellous Light and I cannot wait for the last book in the trilogy next year!
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I really love these books. This one started off a little slow for me, but when it got going it was entertaining. I liked the characters - Hawthorne especially. I have a thing for disdainful aristocrats. I loved Maude and Victoria's relationship and banter. I can't wait to see what the third book brings.
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Myth: 4.5/5

I was beyond delighted that the second book in this series was to feature Maud. She’s a fantastic character with a determination and desire to experience the world around her. Paired with Violet, a woman who draws the eye, and puts on a spectacular show, this cross Atlantic ship ride is sure to be an adventure. Maud and Violet’s chemistry leaps off the page, with wry humor and plenty of wit. 

Maud gets to set her sights on the second piece of the Last Contract as the series continues. A murder, a mystery and being trapped on an ocean liner for the cruise from America back to England.

Magic: 4.5/5

Building on the reveals in A Marvelous Light, Maud doesn’t want to disappoint her brother when she finally gets her chance to contribute. Filled with the belief in what’s right, but no magic of her own, Maud gets her own set of likely and unlikely allies to help her find the second piece of the puzzle.

Overall: 4.5/5

I loved book two, it really built on the world revealed in book one. I loved Maud, so it was delightful to see her rally her own troops, sometimes out of sheer stubbornness. It was wonderful to see her experience the world, get knocked down and find a way to push herself through. I can’t wait to see what happens in the trilogy conclusion.
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A really solid sequel to a book I enjoyed very much! I was a little disappointed that this book wasn't about Adelaide, who I really enjoyed in the first one, but I grew to love Maud. Her journey both across the ocean and the discovery of her sexuality was very charming. I wondering if being on the boat the whole time would feel claustrophobic, but I didn't find that to be the case.
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Me and A Restless Truth by Freya Marske did not get along. After an enchanting frolic through book one in the series, my expectations were high, and they came crashing down quickly. Our original characters, Robin and Edwin, set the standard, and I found that this adventure could not live up to the first magical foray into their world. 

Maud Blyth has been sent to America to bring a piece of the Last Contract safely back to her brother, Robin, in Britain. Unfortunately for Maud, that involves traveling with an eccentric, elderly woman across the sea under an assumed name. However, Maud’s attempts to evade notice fail, and the portion of the Last Contract goes missing on the ship. Maud is desperate to locate the piece, but without any magic of her own, she will need to recruit allies on board to aid in her mission before the future of magical society falls into the wrong hands. 

The first thing that stood out to me in book two was the choice of POV. Admittedly, I thought that Robin’s sister, Maud Blyth, was an odd choice especially since her role in book one was incredibly limited. The most obvious choice for book two’s POV was Adelaide Morrissey, the plucky assistant who plays an important role at the end of Robin and Edwin’s adventure. Marske also highlighted Adelaide’s unique predicament as a brilliant woman of color in British magical society who was relegated to the side, so I looked forward to seeing her shake that stuffy situation up. Instead, we follow Robin’s high-society sister who feels disconnected from the larger story. The reason for Maud going on this adventure was shaky, and I never bought into her role in this particular adventure. 

The characters and romance in this book fell short of its predecessor. Edwin and Robin were carefully crafted, and each character was developed thoughtfully and revealed parts of themselves that played into the burgeoning relationship in meaningful ways. In comparison, Maud’s relationship that develops on board the ship feels forced and shallow. This is really unfortunate because Maud is trying to discover who she is and it would have been beautiful to witness her transformation more deeply. The relationship itself also suffers because Maud and her love interest are incredibly flat. There is nothing interesting about them, and the deeper parts that Marske hints at are never explored. I found their interactions frustrating and it was made even worse due to the confines of the ship.

Without a strong plot or characters, the setting sank everything further into the ocean. I lament that the entirety of this story took place on a ship. The story got stale very quickly, following a neat little formula. Days on the boat were relegated to finding answers to the mystery at hand, and the nights were reserved for planning meetings and sex. I was also bothered that Maud could create so much chaos but run back to her cabin and be “safe” as if she was untouchable in her room. There was no sense of urgency or danger because somehow an ordinary room was always there to stop the big bads and protect its characters, which is odd especially after the story starts with a murder in a private cabin. It all seemed very silly, and I look back on my adventure in A Marvellous Light even more fondly in comparison. 

Everything in A Restless Truth dampened my mood. I was put off by the POV choice, the lackluster romance, and to top it all off I was stuck on a boat. This book was major filler, and I am desperate for Robin and Edwin to make their triumphant return in book three. 

Rating: A Restless Truth - 5.0/10
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An enjoyable F/F romance. If you enjoyed A Marvellous Light, you'll likely enjoy this one too. Lots of hijinks, which makes for an overall entertaining read. I did find that the pacing fell a little flat for me, which was a complaint I also had with the previous book. There are bursts of activity, where the plot moves forward very quickly, followed by scenes that reduce that momentum to a near-screeching stop with a meandering sort of slowness. This is probably because although I liked the majority of the characters, I didn't quite love them enough to enjoy reading about them doing things not directly relevant to the plot. I will, however, be picking up the next book because I'm interested to see how everything wraps up. Also, I'm pretty sure I know who the characters will be, and they were great fun in this book.
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A Restless Truth by Freya Marske
Rating: 4 stars
Steam: 2 chilis
Pub Date: 11/1

I read and loved A Marvellous Light last year and I was thrilled to get an early copy of book two in The Last Binding trilogy, A Restless Truth. This story follows Maud, Robin’s sister, as she travels across the ocean to try to uncover some of the magical secrets that could affect all of the magicians in Britain. She’s prepared for anything…except meeting and falling for the beautiful, and magical, Violet Debenham. Together, with a few magicians they meet along the way, they must solve a murder and recover some stolen magical artifacts, all while trying to stay alive. 

I loved this adult, magical fantasy that takes place aboard a steamship in the 1820s. It had a real locked-room style to it that could easily translate to the big screen. It’s full of strong female characters, girl power vibes, steamy sapphic romance, murder, mystery, and some quirky side characters. 

There is a LOT of information packed into these books and some of it is a little hard to follow. I tend to read quickly and for this series I really had to slow down and pay attention because I would miss something if I didn’t. There’s no question that this book is exceptionally well written, but the pacing is slow at times and the story dragged in a few parts. Overall, I loved the mystery and the suspense, and the numerous twists kept me guessing until the very end! 

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tor Publishing for the advanced copy! A Restless Truth is out on 11/1.
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'A Restless Truth' is a magical mystery, a madcap adventure at sea, a coming of age novel, a sensual romance, and above all things, a really fun read. 

Following 'A Marvellous Light', this is the second novel in Freya Marske's Last Binding trilogy, which features a richly imagined world of magic that coexists secretly alongside early twentieth century British society and mirrors its struggles with class disparities, power imbalances, secrets and intrigues. On the hunt for an object that's critical to maintain the sanctity of power in the magical world, Maud Blyth must uphold a false identity, recruit and lead a motley crew of allies, and face dangers for which she, an unmagical person, is necessarily unprepared. All this while distracted by an attraction to fellow passenger and magician Violet Debenham, with whom she awakens her sexuality and builds an intimacy inside and outside the bedroom. These characters are entirely well conceived. They have flaws and baggage that stem organically from their backstories and which enrich their love story with highly emotional stakes and complications. 

'A Restless Truth' is eventful and well-written, and it's a consistent pleasure to discover the new applications and implications Marske has found for her novel system of magic. This book is a delight and leaves the reader eager for the series conclusion, 'A Power Unbound,' due out November 2023.
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This sequel was excellent in all the best ways: expands the magical world, continues the high stakes drama and danger of the mission, and it pretty darn entertaining. Maud is a naïve yet also an in-real-life chaos demon seeking to help her brother find the second piece of the Contract, and Violet is an experienced magician seeking to scandalize herself as much as possible as she comes into a surprise inheritance, and Lord Hawthorn returns, very put-upon and rolling his eyes as he has to help both of them out of the trouble they constantly find themselves in, on a boat, with no escape in sight until they reach land!

Peak drama, hijinks, and spicy times ensue.

The stakes couldn't be higher as the story continues. Who knows what will happen in the 3rd book, but I have a feeling it going to be spicier, more of the magical world (I would love to see Edwin wield insane amounts of magic, as hinted in one of Robin's visions in the first book), and hopefully more of Edwin and Robin, who I love dearly and missed greatly in this book.
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I need the third book immediately okay? A Restless Truth tells the story of Maud, Robin's sister and she is so precious! While it's easy to get caught up in her innocence and her questioning representation (we love the queerness of this one), what I love the most about Maud is her heart. How she desperately wants to help Robin even though she knows she may be out of her depth. There's just something about her combination of goodness and cleverness. I was instantly charmed.

So combine my love of Maud and this setting and I was smitten. The mystery of whodunnit is combined with this almost locked room mystery - because who is jumping off a ship to escape?? The mystery felt not only like it had a sense of heft - not only about murder but also about the last contract - but there was also continuous actions and new discoveries. Not to mention that there's a charming crew of detectives which apart make no sense, but together find a sort of rhythm.
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I really liked this book! I did like the plot of A Marvellous Light more, but these characters were amazing and I loved seeing the magic through a new lense.
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I liked this book but it is far from being a favourite… Maybe this is my fault, I read this without reading the first novel in the series, because someone online said it is possible to read this as a stand alone, which is partly true: all the important bits are explained and context is given on everything relevant. But still there is a continuous story arc throughout the series and i would not recommend reading this without reading a marvellous light first.
The story itself felt too slow and character-based for a magical mystery and too crime-solvey for a romance - if you are looking for a book that has magic, great characters and sapphic romance (historical setting on a SHIP) but is not plot-driven this is for you.
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Eh, it was a perfectly fine and enjoyable book. I didn’t care for it quite as much as I did for book one though.  I think it may have been what felt like insta love between the two women.  We’ve run around for less than a week having but of an adventure tracking down the mcguffin of power and now we’re in love and considering a future together on minimal conversation…
It’s not a bad book.  I still want to read book three but it isn’t the most brilliant thing I’ve read this year either.  It’s just pretty good.
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I liked this book even more than the first one! Maude is a fascinating character. She freely admits that she frequently makes choices or takes actions simply because her mother wouldn’t approve. Both Maude and her brother Robin recognize that their parents were not good people. They were emotionally distant and deeply concerned with appearances. Maude considers herself a rebel. Meanwhile, Lord Hawthorn refers to her as a “ball of righteousness”. Violet goes to great lengths to put on a show of her devil-may-care attitude and antics, but that is to protect herself, especially since she’s been burned before.

This book ended on a different note than the first one, I feel like there’s more to Maude and Violet’s story and hope they have at least one more book focused on their relationship. Fingers crossed that a certain Lord and a thief get their own book as well! 

NOTE: This is the second book in The Last Binding series. You could technically read it on its own, but the main mission of this story and its magic system are explained in the first book, so it’s better to read them in order.
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It was okay.  I suspect that Freya Marske is not the author for me.  I love the concept of this one and A Marvellous Light but the execution that falls flat.  As with the previous book, I buy the main couple as friends but not as a romance.  Loved the capers and the mystery but the romance is mediocre.  I think out of fairness to the author, this will be the last book I read from her as I don't seem to enjoy them and it's not fair to keep going.
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✨ Review ✨ A Restless Truth by Freya Marske; Narrated by Aysha Kala

The second book in the series following A Marvelous Light, this book does not disappoint! Following Robin's sister Maud on a ship across the ocean, more magic and shenanigans ensue in what's essentially a (really big) locked door mystery. Maud joins up with the team of the dashing Violet Debenham, a magician and illusionist extraordinaire, Lord Hawthorne, a big of a rake who's lost his magic (and who had made a short appearance in book 1), and Rossi, a ship employee, petty jewel thief, and pornographic pamphlet purveyor. This wild team comes together to seek out a stolen piece of the Last Contract.

Wrapped up in this beautiful magical system and with a fabulous blooming romance between Maud and Violet, this book is such a fun read. Mixing romance and magic and mystery and historic ocean liner gloriousness, I loved reading this. The first half to two thirds of this was on par to be a 5-star read for me, but the last third dragged a bit. Aside from this pacing issue, the book was a delight of a read. If you loved the first book, you'll enjoy this one too! I can't wait for the next book in the series!

(the role of Mrs. Navenby and the scene in which the team was acting out pamphlets together were two favorite moments in this book for sure!)

Freya Marske - I stan.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.25) 
Genre: f/f romance, historical mystery + magic
Location: ocean liner between the US and England
Pub Date: November 1, 2022

Read this if you like:
⭕️ historical mystery + magic
⭕️ a glamorous ocean liner setting
⭕️ flirty f/f romances
⭕️ a ragtag team of sleuths

Thanks to Tor, Macmillan Audio and #netgalley for an advanced e-copy of this book!
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Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.

#SundayShelfie + Review

I recently reorganized my bookshelves, getting rid of some books I was N E V E R going to read, consolidating my two TBR shelves into one overflowing one, & making a lot more room for books I’ve loved in the rest of the bookcase.

So here she is: a reorganized bookcase with some different books at the front!

& now here’s that aforementioned review ;). 

If you’re searching for thick fantasy books with romantic elements you M U S T look at the Last Binding series by Freya Marske. Book 1, This Marvellous Light, was one of my top reads of last year. A Restless Truth is a sensational follow-up & my guesses & expectations about the couple for book 3 are S K Y high.

In this book, Robin’s sister Maud Blythe is accompanying a woman holding part of the Last Contract back to England. Said woman hasn’t revealed what item in her belongings is actually the Last Contract, which is a problem when she’s murdered & someone ransacks their room.

In order to find that item, & yeah, prevent a lot of bad things from happening to Britain’s magic-possessors & probably just the world in general, Maud ropes others into helping her, including the stunning Violet Debenham.

There is intrigue galore in this book & lots of twists & turns. As Maud & Violet work together they indulge in their attraction, even as Violet struggles to really let someone in.

Not only are the world-building & the plot strong, the emotional acumen shown here is really lovely. Marske has a deftness with emotions that left me hoping these leads could go to the relationship distance.

Book 3 will likely focus on a different couple & I have my hopes for it will be. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out these two interconnected queer fantasies, beginning with A Marvellous Light. They’re very very good!

5⭐️. Out 11/01.

CWs: one of the secondary characters that we’re presumably kinda sorta supposed to be rooting for calls another “Mediterranean gutter rat.” Violence, including murder.

[ID: a white woman wearing a light green sweatshirt & a Fitbit holds up an ebook in front of a crowded white bookcase.]
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This is the 2nd book in the series and I think it's probably good to read in order. I didn't read the first book so I went in blind. 

This was a fun magical read with some spice.
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This is a continuing story in the world of The Last Binding, and it follows Robin's sister Maud. It is a sequel, however, and it mentions events that happened in A Marvellous Light, so make sure to read that one first (you won't regret it!).

Maud is on a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic back to the UK from America with her companion, Mrs. Navenby, whom she knows to be one of the holders of a piece of the Contract that has become such an important item. Mrs. Navenby is found dead very shortly into the voyage and so it is up to Maud, as well as her newfound friend Violet Debenham (as well as another familiar face) to try and figure out who killed her, and most importantly, where her piece of the Contract is.

I really enjoyed this one, though not quite as much as A Marvellous Light. That comes down to personal preference and my really, really liking Edwin Courcey as a character. This one is still just as well written and immersive as its predecessor. The relationship between Maud and Violet was interesting, and the plot moved along quite quickly, keeping me quite engaged in this story.

All told, I would absolutely recommend reading this book if you enjoyed A Marvellous Light. I can't wait for more in this world, and I really hope that book three is about the person that I want it to be about.
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a delightful followup to a marvellous light! as promised, a restless truth is like sapphic knives out on a boat. take an agatha christie novel and make it queer and magical. it's such a strong book full of liminal spaces, magic, passion, and dramatic flare. there are wonderfully brilliant moments, softer tender moments, and sensational moments. freya marske does it again! and now, i'm going to reread aml again because i miss them terribly.
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