Title: A Marvellous Light
Author: Freya Marske
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, LGBT
Page Count: 384
Date Published: November 2, 2021
You can find it here: Amazon, Bookshop.org
Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.
Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it–not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.
Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles–and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.
I was so so ready for this story, a historical fiction fantasy queer romance centring in early 20th Century London? Yes, please! But simply put: A Marvellous Light didn’t work for me.
I say that “for me” part strongly, because as much as I struggled my way through this, I think there are excellent bones to this story and would love to hear/see other people’s takes. For me, the beginning started out strong but the floundering, muddling middle 200 (!) pages stalled out with very, very little happening. Entirely driven on by my enjoyment of and love for these characters, I continued to invest my time. But the more pages I turned with yet again, very little inciting incidents occurring, I stopped wanting to pick this up altogether. 200 pages were dedicated to a cluster of wealthy magician twenty-somethings playing at their country Downton Abbey-esque estate over TWO days. 200 pages, two days.
A Marvellous Light is a very, VERY steamy romance, but the romance (and overly extended sex scenes) took over the plot entirely and only further enhanced that muddling, glacially paced middle. Like I said, there are some really great bones here: an interesting premise, unique magic system, and likeable characters which should have all spelled out a five star read, but I was simply bored to tears. I sincerely hope book two focuses more on plot development, the intriguing side characters, and this mysterious magical society and less on, well, setting up sex scenes in wealthy manors.
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