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Radiant (Towers Trilogy #1)

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  731 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating To ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Talos
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(showing 1-30)
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Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Is Radiant science fiction? Or is it fantasy? Perhaps it is both, just as I like to think this book could fit comfortably in both the Adult and Young Adult categories. No matter how you look at it, it seems there’s something for everyone in this brilliant and unique cross-genre piece from debut novelist Karina Sumner-Smith.

It all begins with a ghost. Teenager Xhea may have been born without magic – not one bit at all – but
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Perseus/PGW/Legato/Consortium and Edelweiss.)

“The magic… it’s sick, wrong. Broken. It’s all going wrong, all of it wrong – it’s eating me from the inside out and I can’t – I can’t – I can’t stop it.”

This was a YA dystopian/fantasy story about a girl who had no magic, but could see ghosts.

Xhea was quite as stubborn character and kept fighting even when things seemed hopeless. I also admired the way s

Release Date: October, 7th

Arc provided by Talos Press through Edelweiss

Radiant ups the game in the dystopian and post-apocalyptic story telling, joining the top authors with the most imaginative and well written stories on the subject.
Fans of Susan Ee's "Penryn and the End of Days" series will probably love this!

Radiant is such an amazing and complex story that I am afraid I won't be able to do it justice with my poor and basic review. In fact I'm fighting the urge to only say something as ina
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story of two young women, one alive and dark, the other dead and bright, as they find each other and take on the world.

The world is a dark one of magic and conflict which seems built on the ashes of our world. Xhea seems to possess no magic at all, or at least not the bright magic that everyone else seems to hold, and partly because of this she lives her life in the Lower City. Above the Lower City hover the Towers, places of luxury and magic which predate on each other and jockey for
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely first rate speculative fiction reminiscent of Archivist Wasp, another personal favourite of mine. More people should be reading this book; it is a definite standout and is going on my favourites shelf for 2016.
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Original mash up : fantasy, post-apocalypse, dystopia, magic, ghosts,zombies...and it works!
I love the fact that we don't have all the answers about this world. It is quite inspiring as our main character overcomes the odds. She is quite a tragic character but they say you cannot feel sorry for some one who doesn't feel sorry for themselves, and it is certainly true here.
Her relationship to ghosts reminds me slightly of The Girl with Ghost Eyes, but the book has a flavour all of its own.
Very int
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very original world & compelling friendship, as well as excellent writing. However, for some reason I just wasn't as gripped by this as I wanted to be; I really had to force myself to finish the last half. Maybe a mood thing!
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the crumbling ruins of a destroyed or decayed high-tech city, plagued after dusk by the once-human night walkers, Xhea lives among the dregs of society in the Lower City, the dwelling of those without enough magic in their bones to claim a place among the prosperous floating Towers above. But even here, she is the lowest of the low, for Xhea seems to be a singular anomaly in that she has no magic at all. She sees the world in shades of grey, and without a magical signature of her own everythi ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has been longing for a book in which the central relationship around which the story revolves is a really amazing friendship rather than a romance/love triangle (because let's face it, you can only listen to the Wicked soundtrack so many times, and romance is all well and good but one can't live off a diet of romance alone), this is the book you have been waiting for.

RADIANT is a book full of wonderful things, and there is so much about it that I love. I love the detail that the a
Oh man talk about LADY FRIENDSHIPS I am HERE FOR IT. I need the next book IMMEDIATELY.

(I still don't quite understand the magic system.)

(This is not the book's fault.)
Online Eccentric Librarian
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy, arc

More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian

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Radiant tops my list of best books of 2014; neither the cover nor the blurb accurately foretold just how good a story was contained within. Very intricate and unique world building combined with highly nuanced characters to create a story full of pathos. I couldn't put it down once I had started reading.

Story: Xhea lives on the ground in a post apocalyptic Canadian City with magic-powered floating cities. Humans have fou
J.M. Frey
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
(Full disclosure: I recieved an ARC from the author.)

RADIANT is a tense, wonder-and-horror-packed, political thriller at whose heart is cradled the glowing importance of the bonds of friendship; the desperation of loneliness; the pain of magic; the impertinence of power; and the misery of a child’s abandonment, misunderstanding and desperate desire for a place to rest, to be safe, for a home in a world where such a thing never comes without a price.

RADIANT follows Xhea, a Lower City dweller in a
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
(Full review here:

Long story short, you need to read Radiant. It’s got the right blend between fantasy and sci-fi to appeal to fans of either genre, very realistic characters that you want to read more about, and enough mysteries and curiosity to leave me, at least, salivating over the sequel. Sumner-Smith is an author I’ll be keeping my eye on in the future, to see what else she’ll do that will keep me as entertained and thoughtful.
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I wish I'd read this instead of listening to the audio, as the narrator had a very flat reading tone. Definitely preferable to over-emotive, or doing awful accents/opposite-gender voices, but still. There's so much that's great about the book, and so many typical tropes that were avoided, that I felt I should have got a lot more excited than I did. Solid world-building, no love-triangle, an unusual but moving slow-building friendship (with a ghost, no less). Really, I should have been doing All ...more
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff, ya, magic
It was only after I finished the entire Tower Trilogy – and it does stay good, all the way through – that I realized that I've had an unplanned run of books about female friendship. (Mars Evacuees, Giant Days, and the Towers Trilogy all feature a central, pivotal friendship between girls or women.) I like this trend and hope it continues.

Of all of those series, the friendship is definitely most important in this one, where it's between Xhea, ghost-seeing magic-null (...or is she?) citizen of a
Jun 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-to-review
(I received a copy from Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.)

Radiant started out okay, but i lost interest very quickly.

The main character was an okay character. I really liked her in the first chapter because she didn't tolerate anybody's rudeness, but as the story progressed, i found her more annoying.

The pacing in this was just too slow for me. The first chapter was great, the couple of chapters after that were good, but the rest was boring.
It dragged, it was confusing, and i just
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This wasn't at all what I was expecting but it was still excellent! The writing is really lovely, the ghosts and world are spooky, the magic is fascinating and the focus on a female friendship instead of a romance is marvelously refreshing. I'm hoping for more details about the timeframe and how the heck the world turned out this way in the sequel ;-).
Sarah Anne
3.5 stars. I was torn between three and four but I finally decided that I don't want to continue the trilogy, which is one of my four star criteria.

It was a cool book with a really fascinating magic system. I went ahead and shelved it as dark fantasy because Xhea's actual ability is on the dark side and she was the main POV. There were some totally awesome scenes with such vivid imagery.
Jaime Moyer
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
There are books that you finish with a whispered "oh..." and a sigh, because you don't want to let the story end, or let go of the voice and the emotion.

Radiant was one of those books for me. You should all go read this book.
Eva Rose
This book showed some promised at the beginning and then it unravel and turned boring and unreadable for me. I wanted to finish it but I found myself avoiding it at every turn so I decided to DNF.
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I will try to write a longer review for this later, but it was pretty great and had me tearing up in a few places.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I can’t remember how I first heard of Karina Sumner-Smith’s debut novel Radiant (most likely somewhere on Twitter), but the premise grabbed my attention right away. Even better, the persuasion worked twofold: a clever plot, but also an invitation to a world where a magic system exists alongside urban, paranormal, science fiction, and dystopian elements. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? If your answer is “yes,” then Radiant will be a welcome addition to your bookshelf.

One of Radiant’s greatest str
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I just finished the book Radiant last night in the middle of a thunderstorm. It was fitting to read about magic battles by the flash of lighting. It was better to discover a new young-adult fantasy author with potential.

Radiant starts with Xhea, a lone girl whose main source of income is expelling ghosts. In a world where everybody is born with magic and the rich live in floating towers, Xhea has no magic and lives on the ground. Yet she can see ghosts, and discern the flow of magic.

Xhea takes
Amanda Sun
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An imaginative and original tale of struggle, sacrifice, and friendship within a harsh cultural landscape. Radiant is a vibrant debut, infused with pure magic and strong characters.
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Radiant is the book I didn't realize I was looking for after reading Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules series and good god I am so glad I found it.

I absolutely loved this story.

The setting is a mix of Magically influenced Dystopian Future, definitely in the Young Adult category, with a side of (almost Space-like) Sci-Fi and a dash of Zombies. It sounds like a lot - and some of those are categories I don't exactly love - but Ms. Sumner-Smith makes this blend work.

Oh and there's no traditional
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: san-francisco-br
Magic is essential to life, both in the City and in the slums that lie below it. But Xhea is a walking contradiction; she has no magic whatsoever, not even the tiny whisper thought necessary to drive bodily functions, and certainly not any extra to use for bartering for food, clothing, or other supplies. But Xhea does have a unique talent: she can see ghosts and help them find peace by severing them from the tethers that bind them, and it is with this ability that she is able to eke out a living ...more
Radiant is the first book in a fresh new series called the Towers Trilogy. If you take 1 part Science Fiction, 1 part paranormal, definitely add in some dystopia and maybe a dash of fantasy and maybe some necromancy and you have Radiant.

This is my first time reading a book written by Karina Sumner-Smith but it won't be my last. She creates this incredible world of technology and magic. Then she gives you not one, but two, marvelously strong young women as the lead protagonists...ok, so one is m
Lekeisha The Booknerd
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
This story was surprisingly a great read, in light of it’s many genres. You get it all within this book; magic, dystopia, science-fiction, paranormal, fantasy, etc… Lately, I’ve found myself engrossed in stories that has a slew of genres combined; and they were all fantastic reads.

Radiant: In this story it basically means a being with endless magic. Like, if you have an abundance of magic, you are used to power the upper class’s neighborhood or whatever. Radiants are highly sought after and used
S. Balk
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
What an excellent start for a brand new author!

For starters, I love the package. The cover art is beautiful and intense, and the title is strong and unique. I do also love the size of the print and the chapter graphics. These sound like silly things to mention, but they really did make this an enjoyable book to hold in my hands and read.

Worldbuilding is good. It was easy to imagine the scenery, and if this were a movie, the special effects would be breathtaking.

I love the characters. Xhea and
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Perseus/PGW/Legato/Consortium and Edelweiss.)
Xhea has no magic, but she is able to see ghosts – something she uses to her advantage. When a job to look after a ghost (Shai) for a couple of days turns into something that Xhea is afraid of, she has no idea what she has gotten herself into.
What is special about this ghost? And what will happen to Xhea if she sticks around her?

This was a very slow story, bu
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Karina Sumner-Smith is the author of the Towers Trilogy from Talos Press: Radiant (Sept 2014), Defiant (May 2015), and Towers Fall (Nov 2015). In addition to novel-length work, Karina has published a range of science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories that have been nominated for the Nebula Award, reprinted in several Year’s Best anthologies, and translated into Spanish and Czech. She live ...more
More about Karina Sumner-Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Towers Trilogy (3 books)
  • Defiant (Towers Trilogy, #2)
  • Towers Fall (Towers Trilogy, #3)

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