Cover Image: A Restless Truth

A Restless Truth

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This was such a fun book. I liked it differently than the first one but it was still just as good. I loved every bit of it and I appreciate that the sex scenes were just as explicit as the first book

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A sequel that totally lived up to the first book, A Restless Truth was phenomenal! I had such high expectations because A Marvellous Light is an all time favorite of mine. And while I was sad that I only got to see my dear Robin and Edwin once at the very end of the book, these new characters completely captured my heart. I could not get enough of Maud and Violet, and even the grumpy Hawthorn (I so hope book 3 will be his).

A Restless Truth begins right after the events of A Marvellous Light end. The book opens with a murder and the theft of a magical artifact (and I won’t get too specific here in case you haven’t read book one) and the rest of the story is a sapphic murder mystery on a ship! We get to explore some new magic, there’s a foul mouthed parrot who keeps everyone on their toes, a whole lot of educational pornography, and an absolutely perfect love story. Freya Marske writes such moving and creative (you may recall the magical *literally* butt stuff from the first book) love scenes. They never feel formulaic, but rather varied and perfectly crafted for the characters she’s writing them for. For Maud, this is an education and exploration of sex and what it can mean, and for Violet, it’s her first real go at a real relationship and making herself truly vulnerable. Marske has written some of the most romantic lines I’ve ever read and I have more than I can count underlined in this book.

I absolutely loved how much self discovery happened for Maud, Robin’s little sister. She is so brave in the light of so many unknowns and absolutely committed to her mission to help out her brother and Edwin. And I don’t even know where to begin with how much I fell for Hawthorn’s character. He is the surliest, most unhelpful man at the beginning of the book, and by the end he is all in to help with Maud’s mission. The rag tag team that develops between Maud, Violet, Hawthorn, and a few others felt like a family by the end and I cannot wait to see where that goes with the next book.

I cannot recommend this series enough. A Restless Truth is out now and my eternal gratitude to tordotcom for sending me this beautiful copy to read and review!

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The second book in Marske's series is an irresistible queer magical mystery thriller with Edwardian England details, racy encounters, vulnerability and love, and witty banter on a ship bound for England.

A Restless Truth is the second in Freya Marske's queer fantasy mystery Last Binding trilogy that began with A Marvellous Light.

A Marvellous Light was full of details of life in Edwardian England, gay love, mystery, magic, wonderful dialogue, and plenty of heart. I adored it.

In A Restless Truth, the character of Maud Blyth (Robin's sister, introduced in book one) expects adventure when she agrees to help save the magical world by serving as companion to an elderly magician on an ocean liner.

By doing so, Maud aims to help her beloved older brother resolve a magical mystery that's been decades in the making.

But when her charge drops dead on day one, Maud must identify the murderer, try to get her hands on a magical object essential to untangling the mystery at hand--and try to survive the voyage without being murdered herself.

Maud and each of her unlikely allies are fantastic characters. The mystery element kept me hooked, and details of proper Edwardian etiquette and clothing were wonderful. Marske doesn't skimp on presenting multiple magical elements, which I loved--and she includes many detailed, saucy, passionate encounters between our main characters.

I was struck by the drastic manner in which Violet attempted to free herself from the shackles of marriage and the subsummation of a woman to her husband that was expected at the time. (This reminded me of the measures taken by the main protagonist in another book I recently read, A Study of Scarlet Women, in order to secure freedom from a stifling marriage.)

A Restless Truth is fun and quirky yet has depth, an appealingly complicated mystery, and a satisfying version of a resolution that sets up book three.

I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tordotcom, and NetGalley.

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I've been a fan of Marske's writing for years - both in a professional setting, and a more low-key setting. A Restless Truth is no exception. It's SO compelling and interesting, the characters are believable, and their story is just soooo fun to read. It's maybe one of the best of the year, I really can't recommend it enough.

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I really really liked this one. I liked it better than the first book. I don't really know exactly why but I struggled with the first book. Not that I didn't end up liking it, but I enjoyed a restless truth much more.

I think it's the badass vibes of all men are stupid that really sold this one for me. It is full of funny and intelligent and conniving (sometimes) women who are just trying to solve a murder. I liked the twist at the end and I liked the little references to Robin and Edwin but Violet and Maude really stole the show for me. Lord Hawthorne also grew on me as did Ross and I could totally see the next book as being about those two.

I don't want to give any spoilers because even though I was told that you could read this as a standalone I don't think you could. It is part of a series and the magic system is kind of a continuous world building that goes from the first book as well and even though the main characters in the first book are not the main characters in this book, it is still really prevalent and necessary to know what happened in the first.

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What a fun sequel. I loved all the action, mystery, romance, and magic. I loved getting to know Maud and Violet, as well as more of Lord Hawthorne. I felt like the characters had good dimensions, there was just enough steamy scenes to keep me invested and just enough intrigue in the mystery of the lost contract item that I read this in a few days. Really loving this series so far and can't wait to see how they retrieve the third part of the contract and if it will be all the characters back together again. It was almost a five star, but not quite there.

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Earlier this year I delighted in A Marvellous Light, by Freya Marske. She wove a finely balanced tale of murder, magic, and intrigue. I was so excited for the sequel and pleased when I received an eARC courtesy NetGalley and Tor. I knew the sequel was going to be good. I was not prepared for it to be this.

A Restless Truth follows Robin’s sister, Maud, on an ocean voyage from the United States back to the United Kingdom. A murder most foul catapults Maud from the role of companion into detective. Out of her depth, Maud nevertheless resolves to rout a murderer and retrieve the piece of the Last Contract that her companion had been protecting. Fortunately, she collects some allies, including Lord Hawthorn from the first book, and a new character/love interest in the form of Violet Debenham, intentionally described socialite-turned-performer. That’s right—after the m/m pairing of the first book, Marske gives us a f/f romance here.

As with the first book, the romance/sex scenes are far steamier/spicier than I tend to seek out in my non-erotic fiction. But I loved the development of Maud and Violet’s relationship every bit as much as I did Robin and Edwin’s. This one is different because Maud is only gradually realizing her sexuality. Violet’s consequent ambivalence—she isn’t sure she is the right person to be Maud’s first, to guide her through this—is sweet and tender. There’s so much discussion of consent, fights over things both silly and significant, and then make-up sex. I love a book that just has some joyously normalized queer romance even though romance is not in and of itself my genre.

Fortunately, A Restless Truth has a lot more to offer than romance. This book presents a mystery, but unlike the first book, it’s much closer to a locked-room mystery. We’re on a boat! In the middle of the Atlantic! So the killer can’t exactly go overboard at any moment, and while magic is a factor, everyone who knows this is also motivated to keep the rest of the boat unaware—to avoid “unbusheling” them, if you will. This gives Marske quite a lot of room to escalate the drama and tension gradually. What begins as a straightforward mystery with a side helping of romance blooms into a tense, explosive, seditious plot that has Maud and her allies making plans, breaking plans, and eventually just fighting for survival. Whether it’s exposition or a climactic confrontation, Marske’s writing is tight and so satisfying to read. I had a busy week, so I did end up putting this book down more than I wanted to, but I didn’t want to put it down!

Maud is a delightful protagonist, though I think Violet ultimately stole the show for me. The way that Marske balances contrasts their upbringing—Maud’s sheltered life, Violet’s more worldly experiences—is beautiful. There’s a scene two thirds of the way through the book where Violet considers opening up and sharing more of her concerns with Maud and ultimately doesn’t, and it’s that withholding, and Maud’s sense of understanding, that is so heartachingly good. Sometimes, no matter how whirlwind a romance is, you just aren’t ready to divulge your most intimate secrets yet.

The supporting characters have so much to offer as well. Marske has a talent for foreshadowing, for laying out the pieces on the board in such a way that you know they are all going to come together before the end of the book, but you can’t quite see the final layout. It’s very satisfying, watching these minor characters who were introduced in the first chapters show up here and there to help nudge the plot along without it feeling too contrived or heavy-handed. Because we’re on an ocean voyage, Marske has the ability to introduce a quirky but limited cast and then work with them to advance the story.

I also love how Marske continues to build this world, its magic, and the mystery around the Last Contract. I had no idea that this book would take us away from Robin and Edwin—and it is a sign of how much I am coming to appreciate Marske as a storyteller that I found myself relishing their absence. Now I’ve met so many other characters I’ve enjoyed, and I can’t wait to see what the third book brings!

A Restless Truth was not the book I was expecting as a sequel to A Marvellous Light—it was better. That’s no mean feat for a second novel. Also, because this book is very “contained”—both in setting and characters—you could dive into this one before you read A Marvellous Light as long as you don’t mind general spoilers for the first book. Nevertheless, I would recommend you read both.

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I received a copy of this book for review from NetGalley. I got half way into the prologue, and then had to go back and re-read the first book. It was definitely worth doing, and I regret nothing.
This book is a magical romp that takes place during a closed ship murder mystery. There are many, many shenanigans, and Violet and Maud make the most of them. There is everything you could imagine, including murder, kidnapping, cheetahs, a seance, reading out loud, and a very chatty parrot. Maud is extremely charming, and in need of a good therapist, but she's well matched by the outrageous Violet. They and their somewhat reluctant crew of allies and misfits are trying to protect the magical world from greedy bad guys, and they have a great deal of fun while doing it.
My only quibble is that the story leaves us on a HFN. I mean, yes, it makes sense for the rapid time frame, but I wanted more. There were a lot of loose ends left dangling, so I really need there to be a third book. (Which I'm hoping involves Hawthorne, and maybe Ross.) In the meantime, I enjoyed myself, and this was a great way to spend a Saturday.

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I wasn’t really able to connect with the characters on this one as easily as the first book. I’m afraid it took me longer than I’m happy about to realize that Hawthorn was the same character that Edwin and Robin went to for help in the first book. There was a kind of summary of what happened between the last book and this one but it came far enough into the book that I had already slotted some things back together.

Everything happened really quickly in the first chapter or so and then slowed to an absolute creep. I found that things were moving so slow that I was able to forget character names and had to flip back to remind myself which isn’t a great sign. I did think the scene where she’s reading the erotica aloud to her friends was hilarious and would resonate with everyone who has ever been in a book chat group with me.

So all in all, I'm bummed I didn't click with Maud or Violet in this one but I hope that Hawthorn gets book 3. I'm interested in where the overall arc is going and I hope Edwin and Robin will make a larger appearance in that book. Seeing snippets of them being domestic and happy was wonderful.

Thank you to Tor and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

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A much-anticipated follow-up to last year’s “A Marvellous Light,” it is a Sapphic shipboard mystery set in a world where aristocracy, magic and murder overlap on pretty nearly every page.

Maud Blyth has boarded the cruise ship Lyric under a false name and with a secret mission: to escort the keeper of a powerful magical artifact to the safety of Maud’s sorcerer brother in England. Two other artifact keepers have been recently murdered, and Maud is hoping her youth and relative anonymity will help deflect any sinister attention during the crossing.

When the keeper is killed and the artifact stolen on the first night out of harbor, Maud knows two things: one, that the murderer must be somewhere on the ship, and two, her best bet is to steal the artifact back before they reach land again.

Fortunately, Maud’s brother has given her sketches of his prophetic visions. A face on one page leaps out at her — a lovely blond woman — so when Maud spots her in the dining quarters, she impulsively introduces herself.

Violet Debenham is a music-hall-actress-turned-heiress, and a gifted magician to boot. She’s tickled pink to kill travel time by solving a murder — but is far too world-weary and cynical to let a naïve, earnest girl’s moral compass pull her off course. At least, not before the ghost, the jewelry thief and the suitcase of pornography come into play.

Some books make you think; others make you gasp; and a few feel as if they were written as a gift to you, specifically. This book is all three: a breathtaking romp of a plot, prose as sparkling and luxuriant as a diamond sautoir, and at the heart of it all a sense of wondrous possibility I wish I could go back and offer to my younger self. The magic system, the time pressure, the sumptuous heat of it all — Marske makes her ship a crucible, leaving the reader with a lovely, golden glow to light this waning season.

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Maud Blyth has spent her life as a proper young lady, but with her parents gone, she is joining the cause to save the magicians of Britain.

This book picks up a few months after the end of “A Marvelous Light,” Maud has found the next member of the Forsythia Club in America and is bringing her back to England. When her charge is murdered by an unknown Magician on board their ship it leaves Maud scrambling for clues. Thankfully her brother Robin’s foresight provided a few hints in the form of a beautiful blonde he believes is destined to help them. Starving off boredom while crossing an ocean to declare her inheritance, Violet agrees to join Mauds game and help locate the missing contract.

This book felt like a great partner to the first. It showcases different characters but seamlessly continues the plot, and sets us up for book 3. I cannot wait to see Edwin and Robin, with Maud and Violet.

From a genre perspective it feels a little more like a game of clue. Both Maud and Violet are witty outgoing characters, and as leads they make the book feel a little more fun. Unlike the first book a large part of the characters are not magicians, and this creates an interesting inside joke dynamic when they have to use magic in public.

In the romance department this book lives up to its predecessor, Violet and Maud click together from the start. While Violet is the more experienced, Maud quickly becomes the aggressor and it causes an interesting push and pull between their physical and emotional relationship.

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This definitely lives up to book 1. I loved the characters and the plot. They were definitely unique and their motivations were realistic. I liked the introduction to new players and the depth that was added to old ones.

Think this series is more narration and character exploration heavy rather than plot heavy of which I’m a personal fan.

The spice was different, but still good.

My only criticism is that there was a missed opportunity to make the cover shades of purple. Just saying.

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A Restless Truth is the second in The Last Binding series, and I loved it as much as I loved the first, A Marvelous Light.

Maud Blyth (sister of Robin Blyth, from A Marvelous Light) is aboard a transatlantic voyage. She went to the United States to collect Mrs. Navenby, who owns one piece of the Last Contract, three magical items that hold vast, mysterious magic. Mrs. Navenby is coming back to England with Maud to mourn (and avenge) the death of her good friend Flora Sutton, who owned another piece of the Last Contract. When Mrs. Navenby is killed on the first day of their journey back to England, and everything silver she owned is stolen (thus losing her Last Contract piece), Maud must figure out who killed her and how to get the pieces back.

Maud elicits the help of Violet Debenham,whose face she already knew from Robin's notebook of premonitions, and Lord Hawthorn, an acquaintance of her brother Robin's partner, Edwin. Violet is daring, beautiful and rich, having just inherited a fortune from a distant relative. She also has a fair amount of magical talent. Hawthorn's magical talent was lost several years ago, but he still has the training to assist Violet in performing magical spells. They also recruit Alan Ross, a reporter, who has been given free rein by White Star Liners to interview passengers about their journeys. Ross can go places the others cannot, and can ask questions without raising as much suspicion.

Maud learns much about herself and her abilities, both as a medium (a skill she didn't know she had before this voyage) and as a strong, independent woman. Rich women in the early 1900's weren't expected to do much, even in magical families, and both Maud and Violet are determined to make their mark on the world and "do their part" to keep magic safe.

Marske knows how to write a compelling mystery as well as a captivating romance. Maud and Violet's relationship begins as just a physical one, but you watch them fall in love. The sex scenes are plenty spicy, so if that is a concern of yours, this is not the book for you! But if you love mystery, magic and queer love, you'll really enjoy this series. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book!

Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy.

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I really enjoyed A Restless Truth, and though it was a compelling sequel to A Marvellous Light! Freya Marske gives us another fun fantasy novel, this time with a sapphic love story. Though I didn't love A Restless Truth quite as much as A Marvellous Light, and I wish it had revealed more of the overall plot, I'm already excited for the next installment in the series.

Thank you to Tordotcom and NetGalley for an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Maud Blyth is aboard the R.M.S. Lyric, traveling from New York to England. She is posing as a companion to an elderly woman making the trans-Atlantic voyage. In reality, Mrs. Navenby is a magician who is one of the three holders of artifacts for a powerful magical contract. The artifacts are hidden, but if they fall into the wrong hands, the results could be devastating for England’s magical community. At the behest of her brother, Robin, who has faced his own adventures protecting the artifacts, Maud informed Mrs. Navenby that the artifacts are at risk and is now traveling with her to England. Unfortunately, the voyage has has barely begun when Maud finds Mrs. Navenby dead in their cabin and some of her belongings stolen by someone clearly looking for her artifact. Maud has no magic of her own, nor does she know who is after the artifacts or even what Mrs. Navenby’s item looks like. But what she does have is strong will, determination, and a sense of adventure.

Violet Debenham fled her life in England, abandoned her place in society, and has been living as a stage magician in New York. She has now unexpectedly inherited an estate that will make her a wealthy woman and requires she return to England. Violet has always wanted to live a larger life than the one she was bred to lead. And she has zero problems courting scandal. If there is one thing Violet knows, it’s how to put on a good show. So when she learns about the murder and Maud’s determination to track down the killer and the artifact, Violet is happy to join in the hunt. It all seems like another lark and she is kind of fascinated to see where it all will lead. What Violet doesn’t expect is to find herself drawn to Maud, a sheltered woman who seems to be in way over her head.

Maud, in fact, has a lot more going for her than others might believe, and she takes charge with an authority. The women find themselves aided by a fellow traveling lord, a journalist, and a host of various ship staff (with the right bribes). Maud excels at playing the ingenue and using wide-eyed innocence to get others to go along and answer her questions. And Violet’s confident outrageousness means others don’t know quite what to do with her. The women find themselves getting closer to their quarry, both learning who is behind the murder, as well as what the artifact is and where it might be. But those who are seeking to steal the artifact are also getting closer to realizing what the women are up to and aren’t about the let things slip out of their hands. Even as Maud and Violet find themselves falling for one another aboard the ship, time may be running out before the killers turn the tables on them and their lives are on the line.

A Restless Truth is the second book in Freya Marske’s The Last Binding trilogy, following the excellent A Marvellous Light, which features Maud’s brother, Robin. This book has a new couple in Maud and Violet, but the overarching plot regarding the magical contract carries across the series. So while there is some basic background provided on the contract and the magical world building, I do think this is best read as part of the trilogy. I will admit, when I first learned this second book would feature Maud rather than more of Robin and Edwin, I was a little unsure, as I loved them and wanted more of their story. But I will say that I absolutely loved this book, as well as Maud and Violet together, and found this second novel to be a really wonderful installment in the series.

The story opens with excitement as Maud finds that Mrs. Navenby has been killed right in their room. Maud knows right away that it was foul play, and when she realizes that the killer has stolen all of Mrs. Navenby’s silver pieces (knowing the artifact is something made of silver), it is clear what they were after. Maud enlists Violet’s help, as well a few others, as they attempt to figure out who is behind the murders and recover the artifact. There is a nice locked-room mystery feel to things here, as it is clear the culprits are on the ship and they are all trapped there together for the time it takes to sail across the ocean. The list of possible suspects is near endless, as all they really know is that another magician is involved. It is even more complicated by the fact that no one knows what the artifact actually is, so finding it is near impossible. Even once they figure out who is behind it all and what the stolen object is, they have to figure out how to retrieve it while evading the killers. The ship proves to be an interesting setting, as we get great detail on what the voyage is like for those traveling first class, as well as bits about the others who would be making the journey. I did find things slowed a little with the case toward the middle, as it seemed like each step forward then required they wait around before making another move. But things get quite exciting by the end and it all comes together well. We get nice resolution to the shipboard murders, as well as progress on the larger series arc. There is some nice plot advancement in terms of learning more about the original contract and the women behind it. Often middle books in a trilogy can stagnate a little, but here it feels like the larger story really opens up in interesting ways.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Maud and Violet. At first glance, the women seem so different. Violet is experienced and worldly; she doesn’t care about what society thinks of her and is confident acting outrageously, often just for the effect. Violet gave up her life and ran across the world to make something new of herself. She is also experienced sexually, with both men and women, and she isn’t afraid of a scandal. In comparison, Maud seems much more reserved, much more traditional. At first glance, she appears to be just the quiet, naive, ingenue that she often pretends to be. But there is a strength and determination to Maud to get what she wants and do what needs to be done. She may be sexually inexperienced, but she doesn’t shy away when she realizes she wants Violet. And while she may go about getting things done differently than Violet, Maud doesn’t shirk from taking charge when needed. The two are actually quite a bit more alike than they seem and such a fun match. Between the two of them, they could handle pretty much anything. I also liked how the women play off one another when they are faced with a tricky situation. They are so in tune with each other that they work together so seamlessly. As with the first book, this story really highlights the role of women in society, the expectations and the way they are often glossed over. I loved how this story really highlights both Maud and Violet and how capable and strong they are, as well as giving us a look into the original women who banded together to protect the contract. It feels very fitting that we learn about these older women in the same story where we see the younger ones taking a leading role.

Along with Maud and Violet, we get some fun side characters here aboard the ship. I particularly enjoyed the oh so dry and lordly Hawthorne, who seems equal parts amused and exasperated by the women. He is a character who was a foil for Robin and Edwin in book 1, but here he steps in to help out (somewhat begrudgingly) and I found him so much fun. I am not clear who will be featured in the third book, but I would love to hear more of Hawthorne’s story. There is a journalist who also plays an active role in the case, as well as some other side characters. I enjoyed the way this group worked together as somewhat strange bedfellows and found it a fun cast.

Overall, I really enjoyed this second installment in the series. It is a lovely romance, as well as a great continuation of the larger story. I am really looking forward to the final book and seeing how the magical adventure all resolves.

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I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, Marske's first book, 'A Marvellous Light,' earlier this year. Though it is not COMPLETELY imperative to have read that one first, the newest edition to the series will provide spoilers to book one.

I loved Violet and Maud and their gang our vigilantes! I also quite enjoyed the setting. Unfortunately there were times I felt the book was slow, and moments I was bored. Overall, it was enjoyable and I do suggest this book.

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I loved A Marvellous Light, the first book in the series, but I felt I just couldn't connect with this follow-up and its characters in the same way. The book started off at too fast a pace for me and didn't have the same pull or excitement. While I found Maud and Violet to be entertaining and humourous, I didn't have the same love for them as I did Robin and Edwin, whose characters I found to be more complex and who I was hoping to see more of. I did like the redemption of Hawthorn though. I hope they bring back more Robin/Edwin in the next book.

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A Restless Truth is the second novel in Freya Marske's The Last Binding series, and I've got to say: I am in love. If you're hoping for a sapphic experience full of mystery, adventure, and more, you've got to check out this latest installment.

Maud Blyth is the younger sister to Robin (the protagonist of the last novel), and that's pretty much the most exciting thing she's been able to recite about her life. Until now, that is. In an attempt to protect The Last Binding, she's sailed to New York to send a warning. Now on her way home, it seems her warning came too late. Now she has a murder to solve and a priceless artifact to find. If only she knew what the priceless artifact was.

Meanwhile, Violet Debenham is only interested in causing the biggest scandal she can – to keep her family's plans well away from her; thank you very much. The good news is that a young lady is on board this ship with quite an interesting adventure she can dive into.

Wow. Wow! I thought I loved A Marvellous Light, but now I see I will love everything about this series. Thank you, Freya Marske, for bringing this world to life. I'm in love – and I know I'm not the only one.

A Restless Truth is everything I had dared hope for and much more. It's a thrilling adventure, a murder mystery, and an endearing romance all in one. Not to mention the continuation of a dastardly magical plot. There, I said it!

Freya Marske's writing brings this world to life. Reading her novels is more like watching a movie than sitting down with a book. Yet her descriptions never bog down the plot; they only serve to enhance every scene.

Maud and Violet's perspectives are wildly different from one another, as are their backstories. I think that is once again why this combination is so successful. They both have reasons for being invested in this case, which brings them very close together.

The second installment of The Binding Light series certainly held up! We know a bit more about what is going on with the rest of the items, though I still have many questions. I'll have to wait for the third novel (A Power Unbound) to find out more.

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- A RESTLESS TRUTH was pitched as "lesbian Knives Out on a boat," and WOW does it deliver on that promise! I was so-so on the previous book in this series, A MARVELLOUS LIGHT, feeling that it never struck the right balance between the genres it was blending. This book does that beautifully, and puts at its heart a beautiful story about allowing yourself to be seen as you are.
- The mystery plot of this book is great fun, keeping it silly and surprising even with the high stakes.
- I think you can probably manage to read this book without having read the previous installment, but you'll be better off if you have, since this one doesn't really reexplain the magic system or the the larger ongoing story until well into the book.

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Perfect follow up to a marvelous light. Easy to worry about being dusappuaftrf a solid first book in a series but this captured what I loved from the first book perfectly. Give me more!!

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