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Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Review - A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

 Review - A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

Young baronet Robin Blyth thought he was taking up a minor governmental post. However, he's actually been appointed parliamentary liaison to a secret magical society. If it weren’t for this administrative error, he’d never have discovered the incredible magic underlying his world.

Cursed by mysterious attackers and plagued by visions, Robin becomes determined to drag answers from his missing predecessor – but he’ll need the help of Edwin Courcey, his hostile magical-society counterpart. Unwillingly thrown together, Robin and Edwin will discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles.

This marvellous cover is by Will Staehle.

I got a proof copy of this last year, but only read it recently in preparation for reading book two, A Restless Truth for a blog tour. My proof copy has a blurb on the cover from Alix E. Harrow saying "Mystery! Magic! Murder!" which all sounds quite thrilling. What it doesn't mention is the sex. A Marvellous Light is, without doubt, the horniest book I've read all year, and I've been reading quite a bit of erotica!

It's absolutely gorgeously done, too. At the core of the novel is a romance between two young men in an alternative Edwardian England, and so much of it is the most agonizing and beautiful yearning. There are long, lingering glances, words unspoken, a hesitancy to determining if the other person is interested in men too, a desperate, aching need for each other. It's taut and thrilling and all the more so for the forbidden nature of it within that society. It's a story about love and need and how completely overwhelming that can be, and I loved it!

There's also some quite graphic descriptions of gay sex too. Again, beautifully and sensitively told, but oh, so sexy!

There's magic in here too, and not just in the sex scenes (though the use of magic as a sexual aid was quite delicious!) A Marvellous Light introduces a fascinating magical system full of complexity and wonder and cleverly tied into class and hierarchy structures of Edwardian England. Then, just when you think you've got your head around how it all works, it throws in some surprises. I really liked how the magical society reflected the misogyny of the period, and how some of the characters challenged this themselves, and I loved seeing different uses of magic, from household chores to aristocratic party games, to quite serious and deadly threats. It's all woven so cleverly into the structure of the society and the book itself, with the result that it just felt like it belonged there. 

With the magic comes the mystery and murder. Although I may have characterised it above as a love story, it's also a thrilling mystery. It's unclear for much of the novel what is afoot, we just know that our heroes, Robin and Edwin, are caught up in it and it's deadly. It kept me guessing and wondering and voraciously reading to see what was going to happen. And with escalating curses the peril felt very real throughout. Edwin and Robin are fantastic characters, Robin an outsider in this magical society, and Edwin a part of it, albeit a weak and often disregarded part. One of the things I particularly liked about Edwin was the fact that although magically he is weak, he's clever, and how this intelligence compensates in many ways for his lack of magical strength. The supporting case are also really strong, and I particularly liked their two sisters, Edwin's playful, whimsical sister, Bel, and Robin's determined and charming sister, Maud. 

Gorgeous, yearning queer romance and magic intrinsically linked to Edwardian class structures, A Marvellous Light is beautiful and magical!


A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske is out now, published by Tor Books.

I was sent a proof by the publisher in return for an honest review.


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