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{ARC} Turning Darkness Into Light | A Scholarly Heaven

Thank you so much to Titan Books for kindly providing me with a review copy of Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan.

This is a spoiler-free review and all opinions are my own.

โœจ Turning Darkness Into Light is out August 20th! โœจ

Turning Darkness into Light by Marie Brennan

Title: Turning Darkness Into Light
Author: Marie Brennan
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 20 August 2019
Length: 432 pages

As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.

When Lord Gleinleigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, she must find proof of the conspiracy before itโ€™s too late.

 
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Previous Installments

This is a spin-off to The Memoirs of Lady Trent series but can be read as a standalone.

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Sweet Bits

This book was so good. So, so good. I have no words to describe how Marie Brennan’s writing makes me feel. Actually, I do – my earliest notes read “15 pages in and already in love”, which pretty much sums up my entire reading experience.

First off, the world-building is fantastic. And vast. And complex. And amazingly thought-out.

The story takes place in an alternative Victorian-like fantasy world a few decades after Lady Trent’s adventures, with Lady Trent’s granddaughter, Audrey, now as the protagonist.

We are immediatey assaulted by all manners of dragonesque sayings, historian/archaeological language, a scholar-like mindset, strange places and practices, and a whole lot of characters to keep up with.

It sounds overwhelming, but it actually isn’t so bad once you get the gist of it.

The narrative takes shape in different formats, all equally engaging and with completely distinctive voices: diary entries, letters, reports, lists, translations, etc., which was extremely clever and allowed the reader not only access to a lot more knowledge than a single POV could provide, but was also a lot more interesting to follow along because you never really knew what you were getting next.

It’s equal parts fascinating and terrifying how the society depicted in Brennan’s work doesn’t stray too far from our modern one, managing to tackle various anthropological issues such as racism, segregation, contraband, cultural appropriation, amongst several others.

Kudshayn, in particular, really struggles with these as he is Draconean and thus considered beneath human beings. His traumatic past also shapes a lot of who he is. Audrey is a biracial girl, which brings challenges of its own throughout the story, despite her famous and respected family. And another important character shows signs of being on the autism spectrum, though this is never explicitly stated.

Our heroes are so amazing and clever and dedicated… And our villains so insanely two-faced, despicable and unscrupulous.

There are so many adorable friendships, endearing family bonds, and even a tiny tiny bit of romance to spice things up.

And if all of this wasn’t enough, there is actually an epic plot going on, ponctuated by conspiracies, a race against time and mind-blowing plot twists!

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Bitter Bits

I felt a bit lost because I didn’t actually know much about Lady Trent and what happened in the previous books. While it’s not at all necessary to read them first, I think my reading experience would have been a lot richer if I’d had previous knowledge of the series and its fantastic world-building.

Although most of it is explained along the way (and part of it brand new to the spin-off) I feel like I missed some of the magic of being a Brennan initiate. Yet that didn’t seem to make that big of a difference in my overall excitement, if I’m being honest!

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  • Philology, Archaeology and History nerdiness
  • Brave female heroine
  • Reluctant but brilliant sidekicks
  • Villain love interest
  • Dragon allusions
  • Victorian splendor
  • Those looking for Indiana Jones-type of action. It’s highly academic, with more “Eureka” moments than actual violence galore (although some chasing and murder do take place), which may be boring to some readers.

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Overall

As a self-proclaimed geek, I love all scholarly things and this book is packed full of them. Throw in the fantasy element with a glorious Victorian backdrop and you get absolute Heaven.

I adored working alongside Audrey, Kudshayn and Cora in their quest for enlightenment about the past and future of their civilisation. Their absolute devotion to knowledge and justice was contagious and I couldn’t stop turning page after page, hoping they would find exactly what they were looking for, and fearing so badly they wouldn’t.

Perfect for Marie Brennan fans, old and new!

4.5 Stars

๐Ÿ“Œ Pin It! ๐Ÿ“Œ

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๐Ÿ“–  Have you read The Memoirs of Lady Trent?
๐Ÿ“–  What is your favourite mythical creature?
Let me know in the comments below! ๐Ÿ™‚
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38 thoughts on “{ARC} Turning Darkness Into Light | A Scholarly Heaven

  1. As usual your layout for this post is utterly amazing! Well done ๐Ÿ˜ŠBut of course not only the layout, the entire review makes me want to read this. It sounds like a terrific novel, and if you already fall in love after reading just 15 pages, you pretty much know that you are in for a treat alright. Love books that are able to grab your attention right from the start! Terrific review!

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    1. Oh thank you so much! You’re way too kind, but I appreciate your kind words a lot ๐Ÿงก
      It really is, but I would advise anyone to readThe Memoirs of Lady Trent first just so they can ease into this amazing world a bit less bumpily hahaha
      I will always be a bit skeptical, just because I’ve had times where I would be instantly grabbed by a novel and then let down midway through or by the end. So I’m always cautious not to have too high expectations – thankfully, I needn’t worry with this book ๐Ÿ˜Š
      Thank you again, Michell!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True…I have had that happen in the past myself as well. Glad to hear that wasnโ€™t the case here! If I get to these at some point, I will definitely start with The Memoirs of Lady Trent first ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  2. Wonderful review โ™ฅ I really do enjoy your style of reviewing books ๐Ÿ™‚ aaaand this reminds me that I need to continue the Lady Trent series! I’ve loved the first two books and somewhow haven’t read the others yet, even though they’ve been sitting on my shelf for ages ๐Ÿ˜€
    love,
    Kat

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    1. Aw thank you so much, Kat! You’re a sweetheart ๐Ÿงก
      I definitely need to pick up The Memoirs! I’m so mad at myself I didn’t do it sooner because it would have saved me so much confusion hahaha
      Hope you get to read them soon and they are as enjoyable as the first two! ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Like

  3. Ooooh!! As I was reading the synopsis, I was hoping to find out that you enjoyed this one! I am so thrilled that it delivered for you. This series sounds like it is epic and fascinating. The Victorian world has me intrigued. I will have to give it a try, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    1. It is such an amazing series! I did go in with somewhat high expectations and even so, was not disappointed in the least ๐Ÿ™‚ I can honestly say it’s not for everyone, just because of how academic it is, but it was surprisingly so much fun! I had no idea I was into Draconean translations until I read this hahaha
      Just goes to show an author’s skill is oftentimes more important than the plot itself ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, โ€œalternative Victorian-lifeโ€ world is already such a captivating concept. Iโ€™m sort of a sucker for anything Victorian, to be honest. Itโ€™s just such a beautiful setting that implies so many things, from history to manner of speech!

    Quite fascinating to see so many different narrative formats though. Something like Illuminae, almost. And it never felt like you were reading a textbook or something? I guess itโ€™ll depend on the readerโ€™s interest in something more โ€œacademicโ€, as you say. Then again, with dragons in there, I guess it would have to try really hard to flop hahaha

    Still sounds really awesome and Iโ€™m glad you enjoyed it, although reading the original series sounds like the right first step for me here! Thanks for the fantastic review as always, Sophie! ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. So am I! And yes, also another book I’ve been planning to read for such a long time now… Ugh, where does the time go?
      It does feel like a History book at times, as there are basically whole chapters dedicated to translations, paired with footnotes, etc. If I were to describe it, though, I’d say it’s more like a Bible, but for Draconeans, as it tells the story of their genesis. I know I’m not making it sound too exciting, but it really was! xD It was never boring, and I had so much fun with this book, which is quite unexpected.
      I really think you would enjoy it, and while I can’t vouch for Lady Trent I’d assume it’s just as good, if not better, than this one, considering it’s the same brilliant author (yes, she became a favourite of mine!)
      Thanks so much, as always, Lashaan ^^ โค

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Iโ€™m glad you enjoyed reading this book! Iโ€™m not familiar with it or the series you mentioned. But I realized there are a lot of books out on the market Iโ€™m not familiar with so ๐Ÿ˜‚ Great review Sophie!

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  6. I’ve long thought about reading The Memoirs of Lady Trent Sophie! Because dragons, come on!! Hahahaha I love the idea of an archaeological kind of story that is about dragons and a really neat newly imagined culture. And I don’t mind the Victorian era type of society.

    However I can see that this author is probably not for me! I just don’t want to get too bogged down with philosophy… which is all great and wonderful in a discussion but many times doesn’t work with real life.

    Thank you do such a wonderful review!! You really give a strong sense about the book and what type of reader would enjoy it. โค๏ธ

    Like

    1. I know!! I kept seeing it everywhere and when I got the chance to review this one I just couldn’t resist… But read those first, if you can. It’ll make a lot more sense, and then you can just read this one ๐Ÿ™‚
      I don’t think she delves into philosophy all that much. Basically (at least in this book) they find some ancient stone slabs and have to translate them to their modern language. The slabs explain the Draconean genesis, how they came to be (pretty much like the Bible if the Bible was about dragons!) 50% of chapters are made up of those translations, with footnotes. The rest are diary entries (which encopass the characters’ lives and thoughts and what is going on in between), etc.
      I know it all sounds incredibly boring, but it was just such an interesting and fun read! I think it comes down to the author’s writing style. It’s amazing.
      So yeah, might not be your type of book but I would still give it a go just because I know for a fact it sounds like one thing but ends up being a completely different experience.
      Thank you so much for reading, Dani! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well Sophie you are so enthusiastic about this book! I confess that based on teh cover I never would have looked at it twice but now…

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  8. I received a copy of this one too so I’m really pleased to hear you enjoyed it! I was worried about being new to the world but I’m glad it didn’t affect your reading experience too much ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  9. Oh, I saw this book somewhere – the cover definitely made an impression! I’m so glad I stumbled across your review, because it sounds like a rich experience that I am wanting to have ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  10. Hmmm…great review as always, but now I’m confused. Do I attempt such a task without the previous reads; read it and see where it goes; or skip it because most likely it will go over my head? I can’t say I’m a scholarly individual, and sci-fi usually leaves me scratching my head, but I do like the cover. I enjoyed the review so much that I feel like I’d be missing out on something fabulous. Well, it never hurts to add to the TBR list. I think in time I’ll give it a try. Thanks much!

    FYI, the Amazon link is going to Beasts of the Frozen Sun.

    Like

    1. Hahaha I would say definitely read The Memoirs of Lady Trent first! Will save you some confusion in the long run ๐Ÿ™‚ And will prepare you for the world a bit better. This one will be such a treat when you finish, though ๐Ÿงก
      Oh thank you for letting me know! Just updated it ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  11. I absolutely loved your review for this and the layout. It is so clearly written and I really get your thoughts. I am really interesting in this book as well– it sounds really good. The world sounds cool and I like how parts mirror present day society as I think it makes it more complex and interesting to the reader. The characters also sound really cool and it has dragons which is a win!! I think the Victorian influence would be really cool to read about as well!!
    Thank you for sharing this review and it is definitely going on my TBR now!! Great review Sophie!! โค

    Like

    1. Oh thank you so much, Sophie! โค
      It actually felt like I wasn't making myself very clear and just letting my fangirling get in the way LOL So I'm happy to be wrong!
      I sincerely hope you adore it – it's definitely not a book for everyone but if the sound of it made you excited then I'm pretty sure it'll be a wonderful read ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you so much, lovely! โค

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve seen Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series (and its unique book covers) mentioned a lot but haven’t read any yet because I was a little unsure if the style would be for me โ€“ after reading your glowing review though I’m keen to finally give it a try. If a book can make you fall in love in the first 15 pages that’s pretty special ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

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