Review: Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan

Published by: Tor Books
ISBN: 0765377616
ISBN 13: 9780765377616
Published: August 2019
Pages: 416
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
Related Reviews: A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1)

This is a companion series to that of The Memoirs of Lady Trent as we now follow her granddaughter, Audrey Camherst, who is in much the same line of work as the famous Lady Trent once was. That said, I don’t feel you would have to have read A Natural History of Dragons and those that follow in order to pick up this series. (Though you should, of course, as that series is really quite excellent.)

Audrey has been hired by the insufferable Lord Gleinleigh to translate some tablets he’s literally unearthed (or at least paid people to do so for him), which is tricky as they’ve been inscribed in an even older form of Draconean language than she’s used to – the novel delves significantly into the differences of a language over time, which is quite interesting.

Each chapter begins with a translation or an excerpt from either Audrey, or Lord Gleinleigh’s niece, Cora, whom he has set to be Audrey’s ‘assistant’ (spy). Cora is, early on, the most interesting character to me as so little is known about her. Though some comments lead me to think that she’s possibly on the autism spectrum, which, as an aspie, is a nice nod that we exist.

Although initially Lord Gleinleigh bans Audrey from talking over the translations to literally anyone else, and insists she stay in his estate because he refuses to let the tablets leave the premises, he then surprises her by saying she should bring someone else in on the project. When she suggests her childhood friend, Kudshayn, a Draconean himself, he says he’ll fly him over promptly (via private caeliger no less), at great expense, rather than having to wait months for him to arrive by sea. Which is unusual but most appreciated.

Why is this unusual? Well, the easiest way to describe Lord Gleinleigh is what Audrey writes of him in her journal early on in the novel; ‘This is the thing that frustrates me the most about him. He is all in a rush to make certain these tablets are translated, but I swear he doesn’t care a toss what they’re about. He only wants to be famous as the man who found them.’

So why would he be helpful? And if it seems so many people are so easily racist towards the Draconean (you should see the insert notice warning all HUMAN BEINGS of the reptilian threat who have come to restore THEIR CRUEL DOMINION. (What rubbish…) It’s surprising that Lord Gleinleigh isn’t the same, but even goes out of his way to show Kudshayn proper respect.

And so it seems that Audrey has more mysteries to solve other than just what history the tablets hold. As if that isn’t enough for her to deal with, an old flame who betrayed her in the worst possible way comes back into her life and messes things up in ways only he could.

This is quite a good novel and start to a series; like the previous series it’s, well, not slow in the start because what do you expect when the novel is about a woman translating historical dialects? Basically, in the start things seem trustworthy (otherwise she wouldn’t go near it, obviously) and then ramp up as Audrey gets herself into more knots.

Hell, any book where people who deserved to get slapped do, actually, get slapped, is an excellent book in my view.