Thank you to Inkyard Press for giving me the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and share my spoiler free review! I loved Crown of Coral and Pearl and couldn’t wait to read her new book, especially after seeing the cover. Mara is just blessed to have gorgeous covers and I’m a little jealous. This book took a few unexpected turns though and ended up being completely different from what I thought it was about . . .
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a spoiler free, honest review and all thoughts and feelings are my own.
Luminous by Mara Rutherford
Published: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
A witch who must learn to harness her power–or risk losing her loved ones forever.
Liora has spent her life in hiding, knowing discovery could mean falling prey to the king’s warlock, Darius, who uses mages’ magic to grow his own power. But when her worst nightmare comes to pass, Darius doesn’t take her. Instead, he demands that her younger sister return to the capital with him. To make matters worse, Evran, Liora’s childhood friend and the only one who knows her secret, goes missing following Darius’s visit, leaving her without anyone to turn to.
To find Evran and to save her sister, Liora must embrace the power she has always feared. But the greatest danger she’ll face is yet to come, for Darius has plans in motion that will cause the world to fall into chaos–and Liora and Evran may be the only ones who can stop him.
So, I’m going to be honest, I didn’t understand this book. I like the first half and thought it was amazing, but the second half left me feeling really confused and by the time I got to the end, I wasn’t sure how we ended up there. This book seemed to change directions multiple times and left me scrambling to catch up. While the writing was gorgeous and I loved the world it was set in, the characters were also really strange.
Liora is very sheltered due to her father’s fears that she might be taken in by Darius and used for whatever he sees fit. And Liora is happy to follow along if it means she gets to stay with her sisters and father. Her friend and kind of lover, Evran, is kind of a jerk. We see some sweet moments between them, but ultimately, Evran is kind of awful to Liora and she just accepts it. Meanwhile Darius, who’s over a hundred years old and looks like a grown adult, is obsessed with Liora after running into her and it is so creepy.
Liora’s younger sister, Mina, is very much a younger sister and I found her really irritating. Granted, she’s 15 and a child, but oh my gosh I couldn’t stand reading the scenes between the two of them. And then we have Liora’s father, who’s so dysfunctional and jumbled in what he wants and what he’s told them, that I had no patience for him. And Liora herself is just so passive, until it suits the plot that she’s not. She’s been sheltered and told to keep to herself all her life, then suddenly she’s the epitome of confident and assured. It just doesn’t make sense.
The first half of this book was great, even though I couldn’t stand most of the characters. I loved the different conflicts and situations Liora must work through, until we get to the second half. Now I have no idea where this was going. It was like the original plot wasn’t long enough to fill up a whole book, so a second plot was tacked on and hastily sewn together.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I liked this book. Though I had some issues with the characters and plot progression, ultimately this book was well written and I enjoyed the story while I was reading it. I thought the main villain was very complex and added depth to Liora’s character and journey, even if his obsession with her was very creepy (though that seems to be the point).
This book is a hard one for me to rate, because it’s very middle of the road for me. There were things I loved and things I didn’t love. Ultimately, three stars seems to be the happy medium for me and I’m curious if we’ll get a second book. After that ending, I think it could go either way.
Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world with her marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a master’s degree in cultural studies from the University of London. When she’s not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushin_g the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. Mara is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor.