Luminous / Mara Rutherford / Book Review



When the stars come out, Liora starts to glow. Beautiful, incandescent, secret: no one can know about Liora's peculiar ability. No one can know she is a witch, because witches are not free. Witches belong to the wicked Lord Darius, a master warlock and right hand to the king. If Darius heard so much as a whisper about Liora, her life as she knows it would be over, and the lives of her father and sisters, too--for harboring an illegal witch. Liora has hidden all her life to keep herself and her family safe, suppressing her magic, hiding her glow. But when her youngest sister Mina goes missing late one night, Liora has no choice but to sneak into the world, endangering herself to find her sister. And once her glow is out in the open, others can't help but notice--most especially Liora's nearest neighbor Margana, a powerful sorceress in Darius's employ.


  • Weaving Love: From dying wool to warping looms, Mara Rutherford takes the time to intimately weave (pun intended) weaving into this story. Margana the witch weaves magic into life, and as a result, weaving is incredibly important to this story. Hand looms, rigid heddles, floor looms with pedals, and tapestry looms all come into play, and magic comes to life as the ends are knotted off--magic that is whimsically bright. As someone who enjoys weaving projects on my own looms, it is great to see weaving get some love. 
  • Glittering Magic: Magic in this book isn't just confined to the whimsical weaving of a princely baby or a beastly hunting dog into life. All kinds of magic glitter through these pages, from Liora's glowing light to the magic of teleportation and voice imitation. Magic is bright and beautiful as well as dark and unsettling when twisted and used in the wrong ways--just like magic in any fantasy world should be. 
  • Hollowness: The ultimate evil--the ultimate villain--Darius is a classic. He lacks all humanity. He lacks everything. He is nothingness inside and out. And he wants to bring that nothing to the world. He has commissioned a work from Margana that creates this same inner void: a void of darkness and despair. The ultimate evil of this book is the void, whether within Darius or without, following the creatures from the void itself, the Lusiri who leave creeping void patches in the world itself, who suck in all life and return nothingness. This book is underlaced with an echoing hollowness, a screaming into that great black nothingness. And that's the greatest evil source of all. 


  • Swift Introduction: Readers are dropped right into this story from page one. This is not to say that the story starts in the middle of the action, per se, but it does start in the middle of the world. There are a lot of people, places, and concepts introduced at once, and that type of introduction is overwhelming. I prefer a softer opening, with fantasy elements--people, places, characters--laid out much more casually. I don't like getting thrown into everything, especially when it is necessary to understand these components to understand the plot and the stakes. I am sure that, as far as this preference goes, I am not alone. 
  • Loose Worldbuilding: There are so many questions I have about this book, and not in a good, piqued-my-interest kind of way way. Things are alluded to--things are even important to the plot--and yet I don't know these things, don't understand the rules and the methods behind everything. The political state, the origin of magic, the rules that magic must follow: all of these things are plot-important and yet a mystery to me. Not much is explained, and the whole book accordingly feels wishy-washy to read. There need to be rules to make the world real. There needs to be a foundation for readers to dig into as they read. 
  • Fantasy Stereotypes: I don't want to spoil anything, of course. I don't like to do that in a book review. I will let the particular stereotypes in question reveal themselves as they will should you decide to pick up this book. But I will say that this book embraces fantasy clich├ęs too much for a unique reading experience. Good and evil, dark and light stand stark on the page, and there is little room for gray. Even Darius, the bad guy, is simply a bad guy: pure evil. Sure, we're supposed to follow along as he is revealed to have a "complex" past with "nuance," but it is all too familiar a narrative. It's simply not nuanced enough. This book is plain, simple, not complex--which is fine. It's just not what I prefer in fantasy.



Anyone who enjoyed the chilly fantasy world of Janella Angeles's Where Dreams Descend will enjoy this world of bright magic and dark shadows. Those who appreciated the whimsy of Stephanie Garber's Caraval will appreciate the whimsical magical abilities sprinkled through these pages as well. 


Publisher: Inkyard Press
Date: October 5, 2021
Series: N/A

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sky's End / Marc J. Gregson / Book Review

Most Ardently: A Pride & Prejudice Remix / Gabe Cole Novoa / Book Review

Best and Worst of 2023