Author: Instisar Khanani
Narrator: Shiromi Arserio
Audiobook Length: 13 hours 50 minutes
Perfect for fans of ‘The Cruel Prince‘ and ‘Sorcery of Thorns‘, this exhilarating, pause-resisting fantasy will pull listeners into a lush and stunning world where nothing – and no one – can be trusted.
They do not believe this evil is real. They may not care. But I do. Children have been disappearing form Menalya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. Snatched from the streets, never to be seen again – or returned with unspeakable trauma.
When her friend’s sister is snatched, Rae knows she can’t look away any longer – even if that means seeking answers from the royal court, where her country upbringing and clubfoot will only invite ridicule. Yet the court holds its share of surprises. There she discovers an ally in the foreign princess, who recruits her as an attendant. Armed with the princess’s support, Rae seeks answers in the dark city streets, finding unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges street thief with secrets of his own. But treachery runs deep, and the more Rae uncovers, the more she endangers herself, and even the kingdom itself.
A Theft of Sunlight is the first novel in the companion to Thorn in the Dauntless Path series. The main character in this novel was first introduced in The Bone Knife, which you can find as a novella at the end of Thorn. Although a reader could read this duology without reading the others, I highly recommend reading all the novels and novellas in the series for both background and they are just extremely enjoyable! As the events in A Theft of Sunlight take place after Thorn ends and the main characters from Thorn return, there will be some spoilers for the previous novel.
Amareya (“Rae”) is the daughter of a horse farmer who lives in Prince Kestrin’s (the love interest from Thorn) kingdom. The royal wedding of Alyrra and Kestrin is coming up, but royal events are not a concern for Rae as there is a lot more going on with the local population. Children keep disappearing from the kingdom, which has been an on-going problem. The situation is a lot more than meets the eye as there seems to be human trafficking involved and I appreciated how the author integrated it into the story to give a more difficult topic, a more accessible feel in a young adult novel setting. The main events of the story are set into motion after the sister of Rae’s best friend is one of the latest victims.
Rae is invited to the royal court as her cousin is staying there. Through a series of events, Rae ends up as one of the attendants of Alyrra (the main character from Thorn). The two of them form a plan to investigate the kidnappings without raising suspicions of those around them. Rae gets together with the Red Hawk thieving gang to aid in the investigation, where she ends up meeting Bren. Although there are some romantic vibes from their interactions, there is still a lot that could develop between these two characters. They do have very entertaining banter and I loved their interactions.
Additionally, I absolutely love that this story allows the reader to check-in to the lives of Alyrra and Kestrin! It is done in a fantastic way as Alyrra and Kestrin get the “sequel” they deserve while not taking away from Rae’s story. It was fascinating reading about Alyrra from an outsider (Rae’s) perspective as Alyrra appears a lot more confident whereas those that knew her from Thorn realize that she does not have high self-esteem, but she knows she has a role to play as a royal. Her and Kestrin’s relationship has developed a lot since Thorn ended and I love reading about the two of them interacting.
As a character, Rae is amazing based on personality alone. She does have a deformed foot and I appreciated how the author wove it into her character and also loved how it was an element brought up throughout the novel instead of being mentioned briefly, but it gets forgotten along the way. I also respected Rae for finding ways to work with her deformity rather than letting it define her, while the author writing about it in a realistic manner. There are times where Rae has to go slower or rest due to the pain, which I liked instead of Rae “magically” overcoming the pain just to make it more convenient to her character. She is a very realistic character and I really hope that she continues to shine in the next novel as I loved her in this story.
Overall, this was an amazing addition to the Dauntless Path series! I love how both Alyrra’s and Rae’s stories come together and the issues, including the family and political ones, from the first novel are not forgotten in this novel. I think my main two “disappointments” were I missed some of the “fairy tale”-ness of Thorn as this one had a more “realism”-feel (not really a negative, but more just an observed difference), although they both have an amazing fantasy feel and I greatly loved both novels. Also, this novel is the first in a duology, so, unlike Thorn, which wrapped up mostly in the end, I now have to wait until the next novel is published to find out what happens next! Although there were many plot twists and character development in this novel, there is so much more that I am anticipating coming. This novel does end with a cliffhanger and this will be one of my most anticipated 2022 reads!