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The Light of the World

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  37 reviews
At the back of her grandmother’s closet lies a mystery.

After her grandmother’s death, Eva finds a series of diaries detailing the life of a girl caught up in the magic of the Roaring Twenties. She cannot reconcile the young girl in these diaries with the miserable old woman she loved so fiercely. What happened to change her grandmother so drastically?

Eva starts to invest
Paperback, First Edition, 259 pages
Published December 2nd 2015 by Ylva Publishing
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  100 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hooked, that is the first thing that comes to mind after reading The Light of the World by Ellen Simpson. I was hooked right from the beginning. Sleep be damned, this book had me reading well into the night. The Light of the World is full of imagination, wonderment, history and love. I literally could not put it down.

Eva Kessler is such an interesting main character. She is cautious, thoughtful, reverent and kind. Eva has not had an easy life, unfortunately she is one of the many that battles w
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I can't decide if this is a 3/4 star, for me it's something in between. The only reason for this is that I struggled with the concept of the light of the world. I did read this book while extremely busy in work and I'm not sure the breaks in reading helped me with the flow of the story.

I have to say I really enjoyed the way this author writes, the slow burn of Eva and Liv and the historical story of Mary and her life as a teenager living away from home.

The story starts with the death of Eva's g
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Eva Kessler has just lost her grandmother, Mary Kessler, and discovers diaries her grandmother kept while preparing the apartment to sell. In order to find out more about the time her grandmother was a teenager, she seeks help from a local historian. There she meets his assistant Olivia "Liv" Currance. Together they find the secrets of the Light of the World.

Eva was an interesting character to read about, but I found myself more immersed in her grandmother's and Wren's story. I didn't find any o
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
You know those books that weave the title somewhere in the heart of the story in a delicious, subtle way? This isn't one of those books. The phase "light of the world" must appear throughout these pages no less than 500+ times. If it were a drinking game, you'd be dead.
This story read to me much more as urban fantasy, despite the summary which sounded more like a historical mystery. That's not a bad thing per se, but I never felt fully entrenched in this world the author created. The story unfur
Ela The Queer Bookish
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-maybe
I really liked the atmosphere of this book. Scary at first and then just charming, really. Especially when the reader gets to read Eva's grandmother's diary.

The characters weren't as captivating as the atmosphere, sadly, although I liked grandmother Mary. There are some serious parallels between Eva's story and her grandmother's, which felt a little bit forced. But maybe that is because I didn't get Eva. The way her depression was shown/dealt with felt too nonchalantly in my eyes.

This is a fasci
Mariah Lebron
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
History, mystery, romance and fantasy rolled into one great, detailed story. Definitely worth the read.
Polenth Blake
Eva is coping with the loss of her grandmother, Mary. When she finds Mary's teenaged diaries, she has a mystery to unravel about a girl called Wren and the light of the world.

This wasn't quite the novel I expected. It sounded like it'd be more epistolary, but the diary entries and other documents are scattered through occasionally. It's mainly a standard narrative in structure. What I did expect were the two contrasting love stories. One is in the past, as Wren and Mary fall in love at a time wh
Rebecca Knecht
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
The greatest strength of this novel is the sensitive and intriguing way in which it explores relationships. Thankfully, although the theme would certainly have lent itself to this, Simpson avoids turning the relationship between Eva and her grandmother Mary into a quest to fulfil a dead loved one’s supposed wish. Instead, she writes Eva as trying to understand important influences on someone she cared deeply about. She also draws parallels between her two protagonists’ lives – Eva’s depression a ...more
Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.
I'm thinking 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it but it was slow going at some parts. I thought there was going to be more romance to this story. I mean there was romance but it definitely wasn't the focus, which I'm totally good with.

This story revolves around the MC who finds her recently passed Grandmother's journals, which outlines a read between the lines love between the Grandma and a girl names Wren. By reading the journals she becomes increasingly curious as to the life her Grandma led and what coul
Khirs and Aryn
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Ellen Simpson creates a vivid world with beautiful, sensory language that pulls the reader into Eva's life. The natural flow and overall beautiful atmospheric writing made me want to devour "The Light of the World" over and over and over again.

The characters, such as Eva, that Simpson has created have organic chemistry with one another that allows readers to fall wholeheartedly without fear into their world of mystery, of shadows, of the battle of good versus evil, in a way that escapes cliches.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
"The Light of the World" by Ellen Simpson is a captivating read. The protagonist, Eva, is such an interesting character. She's thoughtful, kind, and inquisitive- but has a unique perspective on the world around her due to her depression. The way Simpson deals with this in her writing is different from what we usually see, as well. Unlike many other books where the protagonist is depressed, this isn't a book solely about Eva's struggle with her mental illness. It's not disregarded or made light ...more
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I’ll start by saying that I really enjoyed this book. To me the characters were heartfelt and charming, the plot was engaging, and many passages were wonderfully lyrical.

At its heart Light of the World is a book that explores puzzles. There is of course the overarching mystery of Eva’s grandmother as detailed in the book description. However, beyond that arc the book explores several interpersonal puzzles as well. The varying mysteries of family, friends, love and adulthood are explored and nav
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtq
Full disclosure: I received a free copy from Ylva Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

2.5 stars.

So, for the record, I have a weakness for these kinds of stories: ones where you have two characters, set in different times periods, and you play them off of each other other and draw parallels; and it's always interesting to see how their lives play out side-by-side. (And I definitely have a weakness for epistolary novels, so getting to learn about Mary through only her diary is a nice touch
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like to refrain from giving a synopsis or summary. I rather share my observations and feelings.
The book was incredibly engaging. I wanted to ignore all my responsibilities of my own life to stay in Eva's and Mary's worlds. Just as Eva who couldn't let go of Mary's diaries. From the first page on I was intrigued and captivated. Eva has a unique voice. Although the relationship to her parents is similar to many other protagonists I have encountered in other works it doesn't feel stale or derivat
Dec 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I received this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

I liked a lot of the elements of this book, but overall it didn't really pull me in. The plot was slow to get started with too much filler and repetition in the first half of the book. Then it was a bit predictable at the end.

I liked the characters and their development. I appreciated the inclusion of bi-racial and queer characters. I was glad for the attempt at portraying depression and it's effects on Eva, but it fell somewhat short. I li
Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book.

At times it was mysterious, intriguing, and charming. Grandmother Mary's journal was compelling and most of the characters were well-written. Eva's depression was handled well: it wasn't the sole determining factor of who she was and she wasn't just sad [depression is a lot more than sadness]. The way it impacted her family seemed realistic as well. The story had a great atmosphere and the plot was interesting.

But the story lagged due to unnecessary detail
Amanda Bialon
I loved the vaguely unsettling yet entirely captivating atmosphere of this book. The symbolism and foreshadowing were a bit heavy-handed, making the end of the novel fairly easy to predict early on, but it was an interesting read regardless. The characters were charming and relatable, and I really loved the symmetry between past and present in the narrative, especially as seen through Eva’s grandmother’s journal entries, which added a unique layer to the narrative.

While refreshing to see discus
Sofie Olsen
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. The writing and the description of characters and places was fantastic. I loved the characters and how deep and heartfelt they all were. I laughed, cried and smiled through this fantastic novel, and it left me thinking. This is differently one of my all time favorite books and I will recommend this to everyone. The love-story is fantastic and the shift between the modern world in the dairies from 1925 is a perfect and absolute fantastic combination.
This book deserv
Kristi Stringer
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am a big fan of this book! I really loved the main character, and felt deeply for her every time her struggles with her mother came up. The book was slow to start, but once it got going I could barely put it down. I loved the grandmother's story so much, I found myself hanging on to every line written about it. I appreciate the element of historical mystery, which is one of my favorite genres.The fantasy element was also spot on, even if many of the mysteries of the light were glossed over or ...more
tlev 4242
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I felt this book was very well done. The characters felt fully developed and had very natural dialogue, which can be difficult to pull off when there is also a lot of information that is being conveyed. I also felt that a very good job was done balancing past and present and in laying out the mystery while developing the relationships between the characters. I really liked the journals, and would have liked to have had more of them
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Based on the synopsis of the book, I wasn't sure what to expect from it. That feeling continued on with me during the first few chapters, but somewhere along the way I was completely charmed by The Light of the World. If I wasn't reading the novel, then I wanted to be reading it. If I was reading the novel, I was wishing for more minutes to keep reading it. I was reading it everywhere. At home, on the bus, during breaks at work -- you name it. No matter where I was I probably had my head buried ...more
Dec 21, 2015 rated it liked it
The Light of the World is beautifully written, the imagery is so immersive it feels like you're there with the characters.

As captivating as the plot is, it's really difficult to connect with the main character. Eva was a little hard to relate to, her depression was somehow the center of the story and yet treated like it was irrelevant at the same time. Her story line felt a little predictable as well, but it was charming nonetheless.

Mary and her letters are definitely the highlight of the boo
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a very interesting read. Nice characters and an interesting plot. But just as things got really exciting, it kinda fell apart for me. I think the story is just too big for one book. Too much is left unexplained making it feel very rushed when it could have easily gone on and on. It's a shame really, because the writing is good. It could have been great.... But for me, ended up being just ok. ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the first page. I was drawn in. No book has completely captivated me like this one did Inc a long time. It only took me about three hours to read and I'm glad I did.

From the vast and numerous descriptors that utterly draw you in, to the accurate depiction of a girl surviving depression while not making it the focal point of the story, this one definitely deserves a 10/10 rating.
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
The book started really slow for me and it took a lot for me to get into the story, But once it did the characters, the plot where interesting, and things got really interesting. But the ending seemed all rushed and a lot things just didn't seem to be explained.
All in all, good quality writing and strong storyline... My rating 3.5
Ruby Ridge
I expected to rate this book higher but for me it just did not work. I didn't work as a mystery, aa thriller, a fantasy or a romance - for me. Some folks - see other reviews - differ. The characters for me never really came to life even though the relationship between Eve and Liv felt real, the supporting characters were kinda gray.
This is just my opinion and to an extent reflects my state of mind when reading it so please make your own opinion.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Mixed feelings. I enjoyed reading it and looked forward to the time I could spend reading it each day, but the writing was bumpy. A lot of times the characters had reactions that didn't make sense given what the readers had been told, but did make sense given what was coming later, which I see as the author not setting the scene correctly. For instance, it really bothered me that the main character Eva was upset that Theo, the historian, wasn't more interested in researching her grandmother and ...more
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Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
With the first half of the blurb and the cover I was expecting a book that was primarily historical fiction, Eva sitting in a closet and reacting to her discoveries of a side of a loved one that she hadn’t seen before. This is not that book, well, maybe slightly. Instead of a tale of forbidden love in the 1920s, we’re given a story that hugely incorporates fantasy elements to weave a tale of duty, destiny, love, and family, and the book is probably better for deviating from a standard concept.

Kitty McIntosh
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
When clearing her grandmother Mary’s house after her funeral, Eve comes across some journals that make her see Mary in a new light. Her grandmother had not been a happy woman and seemed to be carrying a sadness within her. As a sufferer of depression, Eve had assumed that her grandmother was also depressed. The journals show Eve that her grandmother had been a happy, interesting young woman with a secret.
I really enjoyed this book and it became more and more interesting as the story unfolded. W
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Ellen graduated from the University of Vermont in 2010, with a degree in political science with an emphasis on media and its effects on society. She is the author of two novels and is the co-creator and social media editor for the popular webseries, Carmilla.

She resides in North Carolina.

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