Title: A Marvellous Light
Author: Freya Marske
Series: The Last Binding #1
Release Date: 9/12/2021
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 54
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free finished copy from Tor UK via, BlackCrow PR and an AudioARC from Macmillian UK ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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.
Oh this was fantastic. I loved this, It was such a well paced and entertaining story with amazing world building , a fantastically passionate romance between really detailed characters. I always find it hard to review books I have loved as I just want to talk about every single inch of it from the plot twists, magic system and sex scenes! So In order to keep this spoiler free I am going to keep this on the shorter side.
It is well known how much I love the urban fantasy with a hidden magical world that is revealed to us, especially if it has lots of politics and red tape. The start of this book delivers on that before morphing into a pure adventure tale, with a heavy dose of queer romance. The Edwardian setting works very well with the story. The magical society living within the same confines with regards to the treatment of women and gay men as the non-magical society at the time. It explores those struggles in minor fashion as the adventure and romance progresses. Then there is the magic system, which is just awesome. I love the detail in it and it really only feels like we have just scratched the surface.
I loved Robin, our non-magical perspective, I loved his wonder and fear, his gutsy outlook and courage as it battled with the manors that have been ingrained in him. It makes him such a loveable character. I really feel for all he has gone through before and during this tale. Edwin, the magical perspective, took me longer to warm up to. Which is unusual as he is bookish and scientific but once he flexed his intelligence and kindness I did warm to him as much as Robin. I do hope we get more of the female side characters as the series progresses as the glimpses we saw hinted at some formidable and powerful women.
The romance between Edwin and Robin is fantastic. It builds in a really natural way. Frustration with hints of admiration building to passion and lust which morphs into romantic love. The fact that we follow both perspectives really makes you route for both of them so much especially when they realise they fancy each other in such discordant times. It just feels like such a natural progression between these two men.
I loved the pacing of the plot. There is so much going on yet we also have moments of quiet and peace. The pacing really keeps you on your toes and builds both the world and the relationship so well. There is no feeling of instalove as we see all the small, slow moments that build the romance but also get the fast paced action that keeps the pages turning at great speed.
Overall, I just really enjoyed reading this and cant wait for the next book.
The Audiobook is narrated by David Thorpe. it was a very good narration however occasionally the different voices for Robin and Edwin would slip and change and it as sometime hard to distinguish which character was narrating which could get a little frustrating for listeners.