A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (The Last Binding: Book 1)

10/10 I loved every part of this book. From the hoity-toity English to the queer romance to the UF style murder investigation

There must have been some kind of mistake because Robin Blyth is NOT qualified for his new job. On his first day, he finds out that he’s the British Government’s liaison to a hidden magical world and what’s worse, that the position’s former incumbent is missing in action. Then right after his unbusheling (not as dirty as it sounds), he finds himself cursed. Thankfully, his contact in this new-to-him world - Edwin Courcey - is there to help him search for answers... and possibly a whole lot more.

First up, let me put my cards on the table. I loved every part of this book. From the hoity-toity English to the queer romance to the UF style murder investigation - all of it was utterly perfect and so much fun to read.

The alternative England is believable, blending innovative magic seamlessly into the known world, and it’s clear that we have only been shown a sliver of it. Yet what’s really important is the characters. This is a book that centres people. Honestly, it’s rare for me to consider a relationship the primary appeal of any novel, but in this case the friends to lovers transformation is simply exquisite. It’s a perfectly choreographed dance, tentative at first, then close, electric. The development of trust, as Edwin slowly starts to believe in himself and in Robin, is captivating. His previous hurts hang heavily on him and it's impossible to do anything but cheer his growth. Meanwhile, Edwin’s bookish, skittish personality, alternately clashing with or complementing Robin’s laissez-faire nature, makes them a fascinating team. The POV switches allow the reader to see beyond their awkward conversations to the slow sharing of their real selves. It’s delivered with impeccable timing, interwoven by moments of high action and the very real possibility of death. There’s somewhat limited development of minor characters, subsumed to the demands of the main pair, but this could well be addressed in the future. In any case, there’s more than enough to whet the appetite for now.

The plot seemed somewhat secondary to the characters but it held its own regardless. The search for answers to Robin’s ever worsening curse morphs into a much larger problem - a diabolical plot to find an artefact that could threaten every magician in England. The plot twist was more a timely arrival at a known destination rather than any kind of surprise, but the author’s means of resolution was a clever necessity, finalising this novel without limiting her options for the future.

One of my favourites of the year.

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Freya Marske's The Last Binding series

A Marvellous Light

The Last Binding: Book 1

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