I was drawn to the appealing cover and rather quirky blurb – would this one provide the upbeat, engrossing escapist read I was looking for?
BLURB: Shine’s life is usually dull: an orphan without magic in a family of powerful mages, she’s left to run the family estate with only an eccentric aunt and telepathic cat for company.
But when the family descend on the house for the annual Fertility Festival, Shine is plunged into intrigue; stolen letters, a fugitive spy and family drama mix with an unexpected murder, and Shine is forced to decide both her loyalties and future…
REVIEW: I’ll be honest – I’ve been a bit bemused by the negative reviews for this entertaining and really different fantasy adventure. But I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of reviewers picked it up because of the allusion to the telepathic cat – and most fantasy adventures with a telepathic pet don’t generally come with steamy sex scenes. So I think this is more of a case of readers opening up this book thinking they were getting one type of story – and instead were confronted with something quite different. While that cover certainly didn’t help, given that it also doesn’t give any clue of the erotic charge running through this adventure.
As for me – I found Shine beguiling and enjoyed the rather claustrophobic, dangerous edge to this adventure as the Family, both mundanes and mages, gather for the annual fertility festival, where consenting adults get together for the purpose of creating more children. Routley’s worldbuilding is impressive as she creates a large family, riven with factions and infighting as the most powerful, entitled mages jockey for the prime positions. Shine is well down the pecking order, as she watches the man she has given her heart to flirt with other girls – and tries to keep away from her more unpleasant, bullying cousins. I kept waiting for her to discover that she had unexpected magical powers… And no, I’m not going to reveal if she does – but this one has lodged in my head and despite the fact that I’ve subsequently completed two other books, it won’t leave me alone.
As for the sex – yes, there are a couple of uncharacteristically raunchy scenes, but I didn’t find them unduly gratuitous. This is a society with a very relaxed attitude towards sex, especially at this time of the Festival, for it is important that there be more female children within the family, as it is female mages with most power. And the fact that Shine is a mundane with an unfortunate bloodline means she is regarded with contempt by many family members – there is nothing cosy about this bunch. But despite the fact it deals with some quite dark subjects, there is a bouncy energy and a lot of snarky humour that stopped it being a bleak read.
I will be reading more from this intriguing author – and if there is a sequel to this book, which feels as if there should be – then I’ll be hunting it down. While I obtained an arc of Shadow in the Empire of Light from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
I have a feeling I’d enjoy this too. Isn’t it interesting how a cover can change your expectations? Thanks for sharing😁
Yes, I am always particularly interesting in covers and readers’ reactions to them. But I was struck at just how many low starrring reviews there were for this.
Well, the telepathic cat keeps being a great attraction from where I stand… 😉
Oh yes – the telepathic cat was great fun, too:))
Good review! This sounds quite different than the usual fantasy. I’m going to go look for it!
Telepathic cat snagged me attention but I have to admit that the cover doesn’t lend itself towards the erotic vibe. Especially with the tagline.
x The Captain
To be honest, looking at the cover, I was expecting something cosy with a bit of mystery included. Definitely wasn’t expecting raunchy sex scenes. Lol. You have intrigued me though.
Oh! This was my very first ARC last year! It was a great story, I agree, although the sexy stuff did take me by surprise. I think the cover suggests something a touch cuter, while story was actually a shade darker.
Haha I would have picked this up for the cat on the cover alone and been sorely disappointed to find sexy stuff too, to be honest! 😅
Yes… I think that was a common reaction! Whereas I was drawn by the fact the family-based dynamic, so although I was a tad startled by the sexy stuff, it didn’t particularly grate.
It’s certainly not easy to balance dark moments with an upbeat energy, so I’ll have to check this one out! I mean, let’s face it–I love me some dysfunctional family magic. 🙂
This one has really stuck in my memory as an entertaining read with a vivid, clever world.