Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan

Turning DarknessIntoLightTurning Darkness Into Light gave me exactly what I expected, it met my expectations and in fact surpassed them in some ways.  It’s a lovely fantasy of manners style story that brings to us the granddaughter of Lady Trent as she becomes involved in something of a mystery.  Told in an epistolary format we read of events through a series of different formats including letters, diary entry and notebook entries.  I was thoroughly entertained,  The writing style is just lovely and I can’t help thinking that if Jane Austen wrote fantasy she might very well have come up with something similar to this.

This style of storytelling is something I really enjoy.  Of course, it does require some reading between the lines or purely joining up the dots but that just helps to make it even more tantalising.  I would say that I think this stands very well on it’s own two feet.  I don’t think it is necessary to have read the Lady Trent series of books in order to understand this at all but, for readers already familiar with this world there are some blasts from the past that are lovely to read from.

Audrey Camherst is the granddaughter of Lady Trent and has turned her attentions to scholarly pursuits.  As such Audrey is gaining respect and renown in the field of philology – the translation of ancient languages – so when a set of ancient Draconian tablets are discovered – and Audrey is asked to work on their translation, she is only too keen to jump on board hoping that the work will lead to something new and exciting.  As it happens the work is the start of Audrey’s own adventures.  The tablets could possibly reveal the early ways and beliefs of the Draconian people and with an important case coming up, with huge decisions that will have an impact on how the Draconian people live, well, everyone is waiting anxiously for the work to be complete.

Basically the Draconian people are a different race and reactions to their existence has not always been positive to say the least.  Their lives are restricted in terms of movement and the upcoming debate could see massive changes to their lifestyle if things go well, allowing them greater freedom of movement.  I’m not going to go too much further into the plot or the Draconians because to do so could be a spoiler not only for this book but also for the Lady Trent series.  Suffice to say there are machinations afoot and not everyone has the best interest of the Draconians at heart.

So, what I really liked about this.  Firstly, the characters.  Audrey is a lovely character to read about.  She has a feisty/stubborn streak and clearly takes after her grandmother in that respect as well as her blatant disregard for social conventions that don’t fit the way she wants to live or behave.  She isn’t perfect to be fair and almost reaches a point in this story where things feel like they’re getting out of control a little.  Her own ambitions and secret desire for fame of the sort her family already enjoy leads her sometimes to rush at things with little regard for the bigger picture.  But, I liked this about her and let’s be honest, it can’t be easy living in the shadow of Lady Trent.  I also really liked the supporting cast, Kudshayn, who is roped in to the work of translating the tablets is a great character and proves himself to be quite handy in a tight spot!  Cora is the niece of Lord Gleinheigh – the archaeologist (although I use that term reluctantly because with his careless attitude to ancient antiquities he’s little more than a grave robbing-glory hunting hoarder.  Cora is an interesting character indeed.  She takes things very literally and has a very strict code when it comes to undertaking things that are asked of her.  I think she made an excellent addition to the team.

The setting and world building are also brilliant.  I felt like I could just sink into this alternate Victorian steampunk world with perfect ease.  The politics and characters brought the place to life and the attention to detail was spot on at the same time as not being overbearing.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing too serious.  I wasn’t in love with the footnotes that were attached to the translations – but I think that’s a comment more about formatting than anything else, I don’t find that footnotes work as well when reading on Kindle for some reason.  It’s just so easy to flip back and forth between the pages of a book when you’re reading a physical copy and so footnotes, glossaries and maps become a little more cumbersome or awkward when reading an e-book.

Overall, little niggles aside, I thought this was a lovely read.  The writing is perfect and the story is very cleverly laid out.  I would read more from this world without any hesitation whatsoever and I sincerely hope that the author plans for more adventures and mysteries to draw Audrey into.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks the above is my own opinion.

I would rate this 4.5 of 5 stars


24 Responses to “Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan”

  1. Jules_Writes

    I love good world-building I find it so important, great review.

  2. Tammy

    I just received a surprise copy of this book, but I haven’t read any of the Lady Trent series, so I was wondering if I should even attempt this. Sounds like it might work ok?

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think it works perfectly on it’s own tbh. If you’re planning on reading the Lady Trent then you shouldn’t read this first hoping to go back – well, you could, but some of the revelations would be spoilt. But, if you’re not going to be able to fit in the Lady Trent series then jump straight in to this one.
      Lynn 😀

  3. evelynreads1

    Great review! I’m really excited now to pick up my arc:)


  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Your review compelled me to finally start reading Marie Brennan’s works, and those hatching baby dragons on the cover did the rest… 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      That cover is rather amazing – I would want this book even if I’d never heard of Marie Brennan before.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Lashaan Balasingam @ Bookidote

    This really sounds interesting and has me curious enough to want to test out the Lady Trent series. Did you feel like it read like an academic book? Some kind of history book with all the different narrative formats and footnotes? Great review nonetheless!

    • @lynnsbooks

      No, sorry if I gave that impression, the style of the book using letters, reports, etc, works really well and as part of the plot we have 12 tablets that are being translated – the translations are forming their own story as the tablets are made headway on but there are the occasional ones that are damaged or a word isn’t clear and so there are footnotes – I just didn’t enjoy the footnote aspect because the format on kindle is never as easy as in a physical copy. The Lady Trent series is brilliant – I definitely recommend and in fact if you are thinking of reading you should start there – not because you can’t read this one as a standalone but more because of reading revelations out of sync.
      Lynn 😀

      • Lashaan Balasingam @ Bookidote

        Oh, I see! And noooo, I didn’t mean that your review was giving me that impression. It’s just that I’ve read other reviews that either tell us to not worry because it DOESN’T read like a textbook or that it MIGHT read like one. I was curious to know if you ever felt like it was hahah I’ll definitely have to look into The Lady Trent now! 😀

  6. sjhigbee

    This is one I wanted to read – and thanks to your superb review, I now HAVE to read it… Especially as I’m suffering from Lady Trent withdrawal symptoms!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think it’s great, a lovely feel to the writing that just makes me think classic, I love the format and the gentle mystery and Audrey is a great character.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I really enjoyed this one too. You definitely saw some of Isabella in Audrey, but I’m glad Brennan also made her her own person 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I wondered if she’d struggle to give Audrey a separate persona but I think she did really well, a great balance between capturing some of Isabella’s traits but also giving Audrey enough of her own personality to stand apart.
      Lynn 😀

  8. waytoofantasy

    Great review! I loved this one, had a lot of fun with it. I do want to spend more time with Audrey. I don’t know if she has further books planned, but I hope so!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think on GR it said there would only be the one book – but we can hope can’t we!
      Lynn 😀

      • waytoofantasy

        We can! Or if we get desperate we can start one of those online petitions, they seem all the rage with the kids these days. 😉

  9. bkfrgr

    Hurrah! Hurray! I’m really looking forward to reading this (when I’ve finished the Lady Trent books, of course). So glad to read your awesome review! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I kept it spoiler free – hope you love all the Lady Trent books.
      Lynn 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks – I hope you love it when it comes up
      Lynn 😀

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