Shadow in the Empire of the Light

Jane Routley. Solaris, $11.99 trade paper (350p) ISBN 978-1-78108-834-0
Routley (The Melded Child) unravels a complex web of familial politics in this eccentric fantasy. It’s Blessing time in the Empire of Light, an annual tradition in which the Matriarch of each family ensures fruitful crops for the following year. As always, Shine and her Auntie Eff, both mundanes without magic of their own despite their noble lineage, are expected to host a clan of their condescending, magical relations for the duration of the festival. Shine’s usually monotonous life as a mundane is plunged into chaos as she must put out fires at every turn, from curbing her cousins’ inappropriate seductions to stopping a burgeoning plot to overthrow the Matriarch. To further complicate matters, Shine’s exiled cousin, Bright, asks her to hide Shadow, a foreigner caught in a crystal smuggling scheme that somehow involves their wicked and violent cousin, Illuminus. Though readers will struggle to keep track of Shine’s many relations, even with the help of the family tree Routley provides, Routley’s whimsical tone lends a dark comic quality to this intricate fantasy, and the outlandish characters and captivating worldbuilding make up for occasional confusion. This is a bumpy but entertaining ride. Agent: John Jarrold, John Jarrold Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/21/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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