Hello Humans! How often do you find a book that feels as though it was written for you? For me, that comes around maybe twice a year (I don’t know whether that’s above average or not) and this year’s first candidate for ‘Judith Book of the Year’ is Turning Darkness into Light. Long-term supporters of this blog will know that I read Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons and the subsequent books back when I first started blogging and I was so delighted to receive a proof copy of her latest book – which may be even more me than the previous books combined. Let me elucidate (or rather, let Goodreads):
As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.
When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.
TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a delightful fantasy of manners, the heir to the award-winning Natural History of Dragons series, a perfect stepping stone into an alternate Victorian-esque fantasy landscape.
In case you were wondering, I loved this book. Basically, if you took all of my (non-spooky) interests and rolled them together into one book this would be what you get. It’s got archaeology (and the ethics thereof), it’s got the translation of obscure ancient languages and it also has dragons. I mean what more could a girl want? Oh yes – the encouragement of women in fields traditionally dominated by men!
That’s right – this book is great.
Let’s start with Audrey, I love it when a character is so fully formed you can picture yourself having dinner with them – and boy oh boy do I want to have dinner with Audrey Camherst – no it’s definitely not because even though the book suggests otherwise she is definitely gay in my head whatever do you mean? But in all seriousness, one of my favourite things are characters with passions and Audrey totally fits that bill, of course, it’s more clear from this book since so much of the story is told through her diary entries but it is just so special to have someone share their interests with you, even if those interests happen to be fictional (and the someone too).
This book could have just been about someone translating some ancient texts and I think I still would have been interested but it’s so much more than that. This book tackles things like the ethics of archaeology and the questionable provenance of ancient artefacts, as well as the way that archaeological evidence can be (and has been) used in order to influence governmental policy. I’M MAKING IT SOUND BORING BUT TRUST ME IT’S SO GOOD.
What I really appreciated was that this book acknowledges that for Audrey to translate the text alone would be a mistake, and they pull in a Draconean to help her to translate. I thought this was a great way of showing good practice in dealing with antiquities (and don’t worry, this book fully acknowledges that the Victorians (and those near that time) were absolutely awful when it comes to artefacts that weren’t theirs).
I am having a hard time putting into words how much this book meant because, honestly, I devoured it in 24 hours (less!) and I have barely stopped thinking about it since. This is going straight to my all-time favourites and I sincerely hope Marie Brennan keeps writing books in this universe!
My rating: 5/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Turning Darkness into Light is available August 20th
What say you? Have you added this to your TBR? (You should….) Let me know in the comments below!