Genre | Fantasy Historical Romance
Page #s | 377
Publishing Date | November 2021
Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light, featuring an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies.
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.
What a glorious age we live in! A Marvellous Light is the highest quality of fanfiction in published format, and my teenaged self cannot believe that 1) it happened, and 2) to great commercial success. In the publishing industry, there tends to be a strict differentiation of genre. Fanfic is where people can play, and A Marvellous Light brings all that is best about this quality, revelling in fantasy, romance, and historical fiction at the same time.
This is a gay love story from start to finish, but it’s also a magical MacGuffin mystery (try saying that five times fast). The magic system in this book is really fun and unique, and I loved the different ways it could be used by those with more or less magical power. The stakes feel genuinely high straight from the start, which is a big reason why this book was a page turner for me.
The other reason is, well, the romance! I love a good jock/nerd pairing with extrovert/introvert layers, and Edwin and Robin are fabulous together. They admire each other’s differences, worry that these differences will keep them apart, then realize they are stronger together because of their differences. Swoon! And just honestly, give me a thousand characters where they love books more than people…well, okay, maybe ONE person is better than books.
A last note: although this book is focused on men during a historical time period when men were the focus, there are some awesome female side characters who seem to be set up as main players in future books. I also really loved the fact that our heroes kept realizing that the women around them were doing awesome things, but men just weren’t paying attention. I can’t wait for more of this in the sequel which, if the cover is anything to go by, will center on an f/f pairing!
Who Do I Recommend This Book To?
Give A Marvellous Light to your fanfic-reading friend who really needs to look at something other than a computer screen.
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