Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan – Review

Cover- Turning Darkness to Light

Published: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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 Gleinheigh 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, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.

TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a delightful fantasy of manners, the heir to the award-winning Natural History of Dragons series, a perfect stepping stone into an alternate Victorian-esque fantasy landscape.

As someone who rather enjoyed The Memoirs of Lady Trent series (what I’ve read anyway) I was quite excited to see that wouldn’t be the last of the books set in this lovely world of dragons. The main character of this series is Lady Trent’s granddaughter, Audrey Camherst who is a brilliant young lady who’s already made an impact on the scholarly world. She is offered the chance to translate a set of tablets supposedly discovered in the Akhian desert and it’s quite possible this will be the opportunity of her life. Things are somewhat more complicated than that (obviously, otherwise it’d be a dull story) and Audrey proves to be just as brash as her grandmother at times.

Much of the plot is centered around Audrey and her Draconian friend Kudshayn’s translation of the tablets, which appear to be an as of yet unheard creation story. The political climate is hot – there is a debate over the sovereignty of the Draconians, plus a good deal of racism towards what some perceive as a race that deals in human sacrifice. The tablets could easily provide leverage for either side of the debate depending on what they say. It’s really quite interesting in theory, though the intense parts of the book are scattered about and there aren’t many.

While the subject matter was interesting and not quite as adventurous as that of the Lady Trent series, I did like the characters quite a bit. Audrey is an intelligent, independent young lady who’s decided to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and make her own path. As I mentioned, she’s already quite the scholar at her young age and has already encountered some bad eggs in the scholarly world that continue to haunt her. Audrey is honestly at her best when she’s doing something a bit mad, like confronting angry mobs and running into burning buildings. Kudshayn is a more steady presence and is primarily a talking point in society because he’s a Draconean. He has wings for goodness sake! He’s sort of a representative of the Sanctuary of Wings and takes his job quite seriously. We get to see his doubts and struggles as he writes missives home much as we get to see Audrey’s inner thoughts in her diary excerpts.

Turning Darkness Into Light was a good book, however it didn’t have the same adventurous charm as The Memoirs of Lady Trent. This is far more scholarly in nature, with a good portion of the book being the translations of the tablets and there were so many little footnotes! They were at times helpful, though I began to ignore them because they were more distracting. I’ll more than likely read any other forthcoming books, though at this point it appears to be a standalone at this time.

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