Book Review: A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding #1) (ARC)

Expected publication: November 2nd 2021

Author: 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. 

A Marvellous Light is the first installment in The Last Binding trilogy set in Edwardian England. The story starts with recently orphaned Sir Robert (Robin) Blyth who just started his new position as Assistant in the Office of Special Domestic Affairs and Complaints after the previous person, Mr. Reginald (Reggie) Gatling disappeared. He meets Mr. Edwin Courcey, who is the liaison to the Chief Minister of the Magical Assembly and will work closely with Robin. While Edwin has vast magical knowledge, he does not possess a lot of ability. Robin, in turn, is amazed that magic actually exists and is fascinated by the concept. After an event, Robin and Edwin are forced to work together to solve a secret involving a curse, a missing person (Reggie), and a mysterious villain.

The two characters are very endearing and I loved watching their romance blossom. As the story is duel perspective, the reader gains insight into each character’s thoughts and their pasts. Their previous romantic encounters are also explored and pave the way for how each character’s actions play out. Their romantic feelings do not develop overnight and it is a slow burn as the two get to know the other. There are many sweet moments along with some fun witty banter. The two characters share a few steamier scenes that may not be for every type of reader. If they are not for you, then you can still understand the story by skipping or skimming them. For me, I loved reading them as they illustrated the trust and love building between the two characters.

As this is the first novel in a series, the pacing is a little slower, especially towards the beginning. This gives a larger introduction to the characters the bond they slowly build. When the two characters end up at Edwin’s family home, there is additional exploration of magic and the family dynamics with the appearance of both Edwin and Robin’s families. Both characters have complex relationships with their families and it was great to see them explored. Edwin’s family was the more complicated of the two as his brother Walt is a bully and his sister, Belinda, and mom do not always stand up for Edwin. On the other hand, Robin’s complicated past stems from his deceased parents, while he maintains a close and supportive relationship with his sister, Maud.

Overall, this was a very fun read with a mix of romance, humor, and magic. This novel both sets itself up well for the sequel, while also having a self-containing element. This works well as I am still anxious to read the sequel, but I walked away feeling satisfied after this story. The novel is a great mix between fantasy, romance, and mystery with a small emphasis on each depending on the circumstances. After the joys of reading this tale, I am very curious to see how everything comes together in the sequel(s)!

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tordotcom, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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