A Turn of Light by Julie E. CzernedaA Turn of Light by Julie E. CzernedaA Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda

Have you ever read a book that you fell head over heels in love with purely because the writing was so breathtakingly beautiful? For me, A Turn of Light (2013) by Julie E. Czerneda is one of those. It contains some of the most lyrical, breathtakingly beautiful writing I have run across in my many years writing reviews.

That being said, the lyrical writing might also be a downside for many readers. It takes quite a while for Czerneda to get to the point. Sometimes it feels like you have to wade through paragraphs of lyrical prose just to understand that the sun lit the meadow perfectly, or something like that. I tend to enjoy that sort of thing, but I certainly have to be in the mood for it, and I’m sure many other readers do, too.

A Turn of Light is long, especially considering the fairly self-contained story it tells. The length might put some people off because it is quite an investment, but don’t let it deter you. The story itself requires all the pages Czerneda uses to tell it. The world building is absolutely spectacular, and the characters are fantastic and have a depth and reality that I really enjoyed. Despite the fact that the book takes place in Marrowdell, and Marrowdell is incredibly small, Czerneda makes it feel like it is big enough, complex enough, and dynamic enough to be a whole world in and of itself, and for some of these characters readers will get to meet, it truly is their whole world.

The magic is interesting, and fairly diverse. There was a light quality to it that really infused the whole novel. A Turn of Light is more of an upbeat, positive sort of read that we have lost track of in favor of the grimdark and realistic fantasy books that are popular right now. The magic and the tone of the book overall reminded me of the days when I was first discovering fantasy all those years ago, when reading a book made me feel emotionally lighter afterward. There is something amazing about that, and I don’t think we, as readers, feel that often enough anymore. There is a place for grimdark and blood-filled epics, but positive books like A Turn of Light also have a place, and I appreciate the contrast they bring to the genre.

There is a lot in A Turn of Light to enjoy. However, with a book this long, you do get some issues with pacing. Some parts felt like they went on too long, some parts didn’t go on long enough. I think that is fairly typical of a book of this length, but the problem is there. Also, some of the characters were unbelievably ignorant in some situations, and as the magic evolved and was explained to these characters (ahem, Jenn), they still remained ignorant of just how they used it, or even when they used it. And the ending felt fairly anticlimactic to me.

A Turn of Light is a sprawling epic, yet takes place in a very small area. The characters are diverse, but not in a colorful, cultural way. Their diversity is quieter, based on personalities and interactions more than anything else. There is just as much drama for readers learning about how these people survive together as there is regarding Jenn and the drama that circles around her.

A Turn of Light won’t be for everyone. There’s romance and evolution, but the plot is quieter than I think many of us are used to with the current trend in book releases. A Turn of Light is different, and that difference is what made me enjoy it so much. It’s more upbeat, lighter, quieter, with a delightful ignorance (which isn’t something I ever thought I’d say). It is written with beauty, subtlety, and deep truths beneath the surface. A Turn of Light has almost nothing to prove. It is a book that you need to be in the right frame of mind to read, but once you are in that frame of mind, I doubt you will find anything that will scratch your itch better than this.

Truly incredible.

Published in 2013. The Aurora Award winning first book of the Night’s Edge series introduces a rich and atmospheric fantasy world. The pastoral valley of Marrowdell is home to a small pioneer settlement of refugees, lush fields of grain, enigmatic house toads—and Jenn Nalynn, the miller’s daughter. Life here is full of laughter and peace, as well as hard work, and no one bothers overmuch about the outside world. Except Jenn Nalynn. Jenn longs to travel, to seek what’s missing in her life. Not that she’s sure what that is, but since this summer began, she’s felt a strange and powerful yearning. She’s certain she’ll find what she needs, if only she can leave the valley. But she must not. Jenn is turn-born and cursed, born by the light of two worlds and bound to both. For the valley is more than it seems. Long ago, a cataclysm of misused power pinned Marrowdell to the Verge, a place of wild magic, home to dragons and even stranger creatures. Should Jenn step beyond Marrowdell, she will pull the worlds asunder. To prevent this, powers from the Verge have sent a guard to watch over her, a disgraced dragon Jenn knows as Wisp, her invisible playmate. Wisp’s duty is to keep Jenn in Marrowdell. By love, if he can. By her death, if he must. But time is running out. What Jenn unknowingly feels is the rise of the Verge’s magic within her, a magic that will threaten her and those she loves. Worse, this summer will end with a Great Turn, and strangers seeking power at any cost have come to Marrowdell to try to force an opening into the Verge, to the ruin of all.


  • Sarah Chorn

    SARAH CHORN, one of our regular guest reviewers, has been a compulsive reader her whole life, and early on found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a published photographer, world traveler and recent college graduate and mother. Sarah keeps a blog at Bookworm Blues.

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