Book Review: TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT by Marie Brennan

Title in black on cream next to four dragons in an egg
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: yes - companion book/sequel



Book cover for TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT: title in blue on cream

As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.

When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a stunning companion novel to the brilliant Lady Trent novels. I’m trying to decide whether it topples IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE DRAKES from the position of favourite of the six books.

This is not a book about adventures clambering about the world and studying creatures. It’s about sitting at home/in someone else’s home and pouring over old documents to decipher them. The translated passages tell their own story, full of […] where portions are missing thanks to damage. It does break up the story, and means swathes are missing.

I think that would frustrate some readers, but as someone who’s come up against that uncertainty in texts only 600 years old, it would be completely unrealistic for this not to happen. The words with footnote comments where the meaning can’t be parsed make it all the more realistic (plus the characters’ other comments are hilarious.) And studying the way the tablets are written and the uncertainties can give a really good hint of what’s to come.

The scheme/conspiracy in this is brilliant. So many layers of deception and using the characters’ desires against them. It unspools slowly, and then so many “ways out” are cut off. The use of multi-media and how it widens the story really helps here to lay the groundwork of clues.

The book is told in a multi-media format – no chapters, just letters and diary entries, translations and telegrams, and so much more. It’s fun and so different from usual novels, plus it fits in well with the feel of the Lady Trent novels (which are memoir style) while also standing out as something other.

I loved getting the feel of the various main characters (Audrey, Cora, and Kudshayn) from their personal notes, something that didn’t happen in the others books as Isabella was the only one writing. The translated material has massive implications for Kudshayn theologically, and I loved seeing him grapple with it.

Also, Cora read as autistic to me. It’s just so nice to see characters like her take central roles in a way that isn’t pitied or token. She is a fully rounded character with her own wants, needs, and troubles, and a crucial role to play in the series.

I am so sad the series is now over, but it couldn’t have ended in a better manner.

Read my reviews of other books by Marie Brennan:

The Memoirs of Lady Trent (this series):

With Alyc Helms (as M. A. Carrick)

Rook and Rose:

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