Book Review: A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding #1)
Publisher: Tor
Pub Date: 26 October 2021
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)


Set in an alternative Edwardian England, this is a comedy of manners, manor houses, and hedge mazes: including a magic-infused murder mystery and a delightful queer romance.

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.

The Binding meets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light.


Homomisia, sexism, racism, death of a parent, murder, attempted murder, torture, kidnapping, bullying, on-page sex

TL;DR: Despite a bit of a rocky and slow start, I did end up enjoying this book! This was a fun historical fantasy set in the Regency era that balanced the romance and mystery well. Although the mystery wasn’t entirely surprising, there were still some neat little twists that had me eager to learn more! Robin and Edwin were wonderful main characters and I loved their dynamic and romance—I found it swoony, romantic and sweet. 🥰 Not to mention, it got unexpectedly steamy! Overall, a great read and I can’t wait to pick up the next book!

The book starts slowly and remains pretty consistently slow-paced throughout. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course, and it gave me cosy historical mystery vibes that I enjoyed. One thing that I struggled with more than expected was the writing. I don’t know why because I read my share of Regency-era books but some of the sentences read very oddly, and although I got used to the writing the more I read, it did continue to trip me up on occasion. Whenever that happened, it sadly took me out of the story because I’d have to re-read the section (sometimes multiple times) to make sure I understood what the author was saying, and that was a little frustrating! I buddy-read this with Leslie @Books Are the New Black and we both had the same issues with it, and although we both enjoyed it, I ended up enjoying it a bit more than she did.

I thought the world-building was pretty solid and aside from the writing style, the author did a great job in making it hard to forget what time period the book was set in! The magic system was initially confusing but I thought it was unique. I don’t think I’ve ever read about magic that can be conjured by hand gestures and movements (like playing cat’s cradle!) but I also liked the more “natural” element to the magic that’s introduced later on. I hope that gets explored a bit more in the next book especially as it relates to Sutton House! As for the mystery, although the ‘baddie” was rather obvious from the beginning, there was a twist or two that I didn’t expect and that has me intrigued to see where the story goes next and how Edwin, Robin, and the rest of the crew will come out on the winning side! FYI: while you do find out who the baddie is in this book, the mystery itself isn’t entirely solved so it doesn’t have a neatly wrapped-up ending because it continues in the next book.

The best part of the story for me though was the characters and the romance. Edwin and Robin are total opposites—the former is a grumpy librarian type and the latter is a bit of a himbo. Together, they were absolutely wonderful and I loved getting to know both of them! Although Edwin was a bit cold and standoffish, to begin with, I loved watching him thaw the more time he spent around Robin, who was genuinely fascinated by Edwin and who truly enjoyed his company. So often I found myself infuriated on Edwin’s behalf because his family is just the worst—their brand of casual cruelty and straight-up viciousness is so ugly and nasty and I hate that it was something Edwin had to endure his whole life. I was ready to take up arms to protect this timid and braintastically wholesome man! In contrast, Robin was a “paperwork error” who found himself thrust into the world of magic entirely by accident but who took to it like a fish in water. Like Edwin, he also had a pretty dismal upbringing with horrible parents who treated him and his sibling like paper copies to do with as they liked. I wouldn’t say he’s a himbo but he does have that slightly clueless sunshine energy that presented a nice contrast to Edwin. I loved that you could feel how comfortable they were with each other.

Their romance was pretty instalust but I loved watching that grow into something more solid the longer they spent together. There were so many wonderful quotes about their interactions, how they saw each other, and what they made each other feel and it made my heart so full because both of them so deserve to be loved! 🥹 You could say this “instalove” since by the end they’d technically only known each other a week but I still maintain it was instalust, lol. Also, don’t let this innocent cover fool you either—this gets very steamy in the latter half of the book once Robin and Edwin admit their feelings for each other. There are a few instances of on-page sex and they are explicit but tastefully so. 😂

Overall, I’m very excited to see what happens next. I hope we still get to see a lot of Robin and Edwin in the next book even though it’s going to be told from a different perspective and about a different couple! Either way, this was a solid debut and I’m looking forward to more from this author.

Have you read A Marvellous Light or is it on your TBR?

14 thoughts on “Book Review: A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

  1. Great review, Dini!! I think that my tolerance for really slow-paced books right now is not great. haha. My mood reading is all over the place and most likely why I enjoyed it a little bit less. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I totally get it and being mood readers, with everything going on, it’s already amazing that we’re still reading. 😂 I’m sorry that you didn’t end up enjoying this one as much as I did in the end but I’m glad that we read it together! 💜


  2. Great review! I also really liked the magic system because of its uniqueness. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. I agree that the major draw of this book is the dynamic between Robin and Edwin. The grumpy librarian and sunshine energy paired so well together. Unfortunately, they are not really in the sequel at all, but it was still a fun read. The whole cast of both books is supposed to be back for the final book, though, and I’m dying to get my hands on it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it’s a bummer to hear that they’re not so much in the sequel. Did you enjoy the second one the same or more? I can’t actually recall who the MCs are going to be actually. 🤔 But glad to know they all come back in the final book! I also can’t wait to learn more about the magical mystery/last binding!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I actually really love the sequel. It centers Robin’s sister Maud and is a sapphic awakening story combined with a murder mystery/treasure hunt set on a boat. Lord Hawthorn also gets more story time in it, which I loved, and he’ll be the main character of the third book.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s