A Marvelous Light by Freya Marske

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it–not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles–and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.


I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.


Soooo Cute! This book was So Damn Cute! I’ve had Sara from The Fantasy Inn shouting into my DMs about this one since December and I’m so happy to have finally gotten the chance to read it! Featuring both one of my favorite pairing tropes (grumpy and sunshine) and my favorite character tropes (anxious bookish nerd; must protect Edwin at all costs), I adored reading this one.

The premise of A Marvelous Light starts out quite fun. “What if a low-level, low-aspiring bureaucrat is suddenly introduced to the larger magical society through a paperwork error as the new non-magical government liaison, and how would his magical counterpart deal? Poorly. his magical counterpart would deal poorly. From there, hijinks ensue (aka, why did the previous non-magical liaison disappear and, aw shit, he’s probably dead isn’t he) and the two of them go through a delightfully prickly, sexually tense, budding romantic relationship.

As an anxious bookish nerd, I immediately imprinted on Edwin Courcey, lover of books and rolled up sleeves, hater of most other things. From Robin’s perspective, he has this extremely prickly, slightly dick-ish bevahiour (hiding both a soft interior and a Tragic Past™), but remains committed to getting Robin out of this mess in one piece. From his own POV chapters, you learn Edwin has both a strong anxiety due to his simply awful childhood and siblings (one of the few characters I was cheering for to die in this book), and also this extremely strong drive to research everything and anything. I loved seeing how academically-oriented his thoughts were, bouncing from ‘oh why doesn’t this field have proper documentation’ to ‘well I read this one obscure French paper that says this is theoretically possible so fuck it let’s try it’. Just a fantastic character overall.

Grumpy is basically always my preference for this pairing trope, but I did really really like Robin Blyth, our sunshine character, in this one too. Oh Robin, ye of big heart and little brain, man trying his best but struggling with big words. Robin’s probably equally confused about his position and not totally sure if he wants to stay, but I love both his determination to see things through and his absolute devotion to the people closest to him, both his younger sister and, later, Edwin.

For those curious, the primary focus of this book is the development of Robin and Edwin’s romance. Marske, however, does a fantastic job weaving in that development with the murder plot points so that neither aspect feels like it’s in stasis. Through various English countryside manor shenanigans, we watch the character development of Robin and Edwin, both encumbered by different forms of parental neglect, slowly learn to trust and open up. The quiet, intimate moments of researching in family libraries and mutual bonding through death-defying events bring the two together and the two are just so damn cute together.

Plot-wise, the biggest events really take place at the quarter of the book post-relationship establishment. I can’t say much without going into spoilers, but the ending is definitely very satisfying. On a broader note, I cannot stress how much I’m excited for the worldbuilding. From Edwin’s many complaints, English magic, and the study of English magic, is so far behind the rest of the world and the inner academic in me is just begging for the author to dive further into the details. Let Edwin get publications!! There’s so much potential in the magical worldbuilding here (starting with the fact the magical gestures are based on the cat’s cradle game!) that I’m so excited to explore in further books!

Overall, I rate this book a 4/5. I absolutely adore the main couple and Edwin, resident grumpy bookish nerd, is now a favorite character of mine. The relationship development between Edwin and Robin was so so cute (also shoutout to the author for not being a coward and including magical sex). I absolutely can’t wait for book 2!

r/Fantasy 2021-22 Bingo Squares:

  • Comfort Read
  • Genre Mashup (fantasy, romance)
  • Mystery Plot
  • Debut Author

Publication Date: 2 November 2021
Publisher: Tordotcom
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 384
Word Count: ~118,000
ISBN: 1250788870 
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

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