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Shadow in the Empire of Light

2.91  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  79 reviews
A magical novel of intrigue, mystery and family drama from the award-winning author of Aramaya and Fire Angels

Shine’s life is usually dull: an orphan without magic in a family of powerful mages, she’s left to run the family estate with only an eccentric aunt and telepathic cat for company.

But when the family descend on the house for the annual Fertility Festival, Shine
Paperback, 350 pages
Published January 19th 2021 by Solaris
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Average rating 2.91  · 
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 ·  120 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Book Barbarian  (Tammy Smith)
Thank you Rebellion for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

Recommends it for: You like your story strange and the writing posh and direct. I can’t compare this book to anything really, sorry!

The cute cat cover definitely will fool the sweetest people – this book is a wild ride with some strange X-Rated scenes – you have been warned.

Shine is a non-magical person in a family full of mages. Her family start to descend on her house for the fertility festival suddenly Shine is plunged into int
Jul 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
[this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review]

Unfortunately, I DNFed this book at 21%. It was leaving a weird impression in me, and by weird I mean messy and complicated and not well-explained.
If this was a part of a sooner -established fantasy world, I wouldn't say anything - but this is supposed to introduce the reader to this environment for the first time and all the author did was throw horrendous infodumps at us. All the relations and
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting fantasy read that was centered around a country estate and a fertility festival. Shine keeps up the estate after her mother, who was a mage, disappeared. Shine is half mage, half ghost. She is part of the royal family but being half breed with no magic makes her a mundane and no use but basically a servant to them.  I will say all the names were very unique and most seemed based around light which was fascinating- Lucient, Blazanne, Lumina, Scintillant, Illuminant, Gl ...more
Karen (thefictioncorner)
I felt like there was so much going on with this book, but at the same time, nothing was really happening. I got to around 40% and nothing big really happened to make it exciting. I was drawn into this book because the synopsis says telepathic cat and spy and drama, but I really didn’t see like any of it. The cat was a cool idea, but literally nothing happened with it like it ran away for a good amount of the beginning.

I’m all for being sexually free and all, but I feel like the way the people
S.J. Higbee
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’ll be honest – I’ve been a bit bemused by the negative reviews for this entertaining and really different fantasy adventure. But I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of reviewers picked it up because of the allusion to the telepathic cat – and most fantasy adventures with a telepathic pet don’t generally come with steamy sex scenes. So I think this is more of a case of readers opening up this book thinking they were getting one type of story – and instead were confronted with something quite ...more
Avani ✨
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shadow in the empire of light by Jane Routley is a family drama, fantasy novel with magical elements of magic and spirits. Since the start of the book there is not direction and only incidents upon incidents have been bombarded on the reader.

Inspite of providing with the family chart in the start of the book, the characters in the story and their relationships with eachother are quite not clearly potrayed. The read the entire book and it was kinda ok. I did not enjoy it much.
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Find this and other reviews at The Reader in Indigo

Shine Lucheyart may be a granddaughter of the ruling Empress, but as a magic-less mundane with a vanished (some say dead) mother and a pale-skinned foreign father, she's forced to live a quiet life of genteel poverty on an isolated country estate, with little company aside from a giant talking cat and her radical, semi-banished aunt. But when her extended family descends on her home for an annual fertility festival---and a pale-skinned scholar f
Jan 22, 2021 rated it liked it
3 stars

You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books.

Meh. This an ok fantasy. It's an easy read, but the story doesn't really go anywhere. It's listed as a YA Fantasy and while the story is as simplistic as a YA book, I think the inclusion of a lot of discussion about sex takes it out of that category. Perhaps if you're talking about college-age YA, then perhaps.

Shine is a mundane orphan without any magical power in a royal family full of mages. Because she has no magical ability she i
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it
This review and more at I Wish I Owned A Bookstore

Thank you to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book has a telepathic cat therefore it is awesome - ‘nuff said!

Thanks for reading - follow me on instagram...

OK just kidding here’s my review:

I enjoyed this book but it definitely didn’t blow me away. It was slow to start as we’re getting to know all the characters, but it picked up about halfway and the plot ended up being quite fu
May 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc-galley
Thank you, Rebellion and Netgalley, for accepting my request to read this ARC.

Shadow in the Empire of Light is a promising feminist fantasy story about mystery, family drama and playful magic. Through my perspective, the summary talks about family dynamics, supernatural creatures and a rich cultural setting. That's why I immediately requested this when I saw it. I was in the mood for some good magic and intrigue!

The story evolves around Shine, an orphan without magic in a family full of it. She
It has been a long time since I've last read anything by Routley - I may have been a freshman in high school, barely, the last time that I picked up her books. But, I remember immediately counting her in with my favorite fantasy authors, so I have long kept my eye out for anything new from her, so needless to say, I was so pleased to see this one pop onto my radar! Plus, I was totally in the mood for a good fantasy!

And I am so glad that I dove right into this one! I really had a lot of fun readi
Beas Chattaraj
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I went into this book thinking thats it's a cool YA fantasy but it turned out to be more of a family drama set in a fantastical land of mages and mundanes and matriarchs and crystal smuggling. Don't get me wrong, I liked the premise. I liked what the author was trying to do here. The xenophobia, homophobia, illegal 'aliens' - these are pretty much the same as in the real world. But the plot was way too convoluted for my liking. Too many characters with ridiculous names made it difficult for me t ...more
Nov 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: netgalley
Unpopular opinion: this was clumsy and weird and so not what I had expected.

I was looking forward to an empowering book about an underdog and a telepathic cat. What I got was a YA novel with characters that don't show any character development, a telepathic cat as a world building device, lots of weird words and phrases, a clumsy attempt at racial issues, and a lot of (pretend) sex scenes.
Jessi (Novel Heartbeat)

Say no more.
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Okay let’s be honest, I requested this book because it said there was a psychic cat. Sadly, Katty features way too little and there’s no explanation as to why this cat is psychic and only talks to one mundane.

Now onto to the story. The writing isn’t bad at all, there are some really interesting concepts and storylines that could be developed, however there is something - for lack of a better word - basic about the writing. I was slightly surprised when the word “perspicacious” was thrown into a
Peter Baran
May 12, 2020 rated it liked it
A fun YA fantasy which paints an interesting, magical world and has a terrific protagonist, and then bog sthe whole thing down somewhat by eventually being a bit of a family mystery story. Our lead, Bright, is a mundane magic free daughter of the ruling magical family, and the power structure that exists in a world with very powerful magic users underpin the story. There is a hierarchy where light skinned people (who are foreign) are shunned - and the book is interesting about shade policing, bu ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it liked it
This is a weird book. An interesting read but weird.

Shine is a member of the Imperial family but as she hasn’t no magical powers, she’s a mundane and is treated as a second class citizen by her family who all descend on her home for an annual fertility festival. The story reminds of Knives out but with magic mages, wild magical creatures (even a moving tree), a talking cat as well as politics, intrigue, lots of sex (also between cousins) with some female empowerment (the female mages are much s
Aug 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-books-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lauren loves llamas
Content warnings: (view spoiler)

I like house party mysteries, heroines who are disadvantaged but plucky, and fantasy matriarchal societies, so I should’ve liked this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work for me, largely due to the amount of content warnings.

“It was odd to be the strong one here. Mages have the power, not mundanes. Odd to be the one g
Lee Sharp
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to NetGalley and author Jane Routley for the opportunity to review an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book.

The book introduces primary character Shine, a minor member of an extended Imperial family, within a matriarchial, magic wielding society, in which nobility is granted based upon one's ability to use magic. Shine, as she is unable to wield magic herself, is reduced to gentry in a backwater rural village. The book introduces a society whose sexuality is vastly different than ours,
Jul 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc, dnf, fantasy, no
When I first read the description of this book, I was excited. I like family dynamics mixed with magic (and a telepathic cat! and strong female leads!), and adult scenes are fine if they contribute to the story. Unfortunately, as fun as the synopsis sounded, this book didn't really live up to it at all. From the get go, we were thrown into the world without warning and while it's fine if it slowly starts making sense, the world didn't make sense for a long time, almost as if we accept some thing ...more
Ashley Reyes
May 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

I nearly DNF'd this several times. To be perfectly honest, the world building was lacking up front, and the social interaction was confusing. There wasn't enough background to understand what was expected as a reader, and what I should seem to already know about this world. By 38%, nothing had really happened and what did, didn't make sense. And, for a book that's supposed to be YA, there's a lot of questionable sexual theme
Jul 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book really wasn’t to my taste. Too many horrible people - even a paedophile. Really not what I want to be reading about.

I really liked the idea of Katti, Shine’s telepathic cat. I also enjoyed the Mooncats. I’d have liked to have seen a lot more of these two aspects.

There were too many different characters introduced too quickly for me to keep track of. Almost none of them had enough page time for me to get to know them. The vast majority of them were nasty, and only out for themselves, ju
Justine (bookshelf_fairy)
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This fantasy book covers so much in its pages, that you don't know how it will end. So cleverly written the author starts coaxing the reader down one path just to then pull the rug from under their feet. I wasn't totally expecting the way the story played out, but it definitely left room for another book to be written and read.
Shine is the daughter of a mage, who much to the disgust of the family, ran away with not just a mundane but a ghost, Shines father.
After being abandoned as a small child
Max Hansford
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. I liked our main character a lot, even though I think she was way to loyal to the people who treat her like complete trash. She's easy to understand and root for. It's diverse and it takes a spin where the white people are weird and not normal. The world building is good, interesting, and it flows well with the story, but I wish there was a little more. What are the other countries' magic like? Do they have magic? How are they ruled? The ...more
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shadow in the Empire of Light is a huge amount of fun, I read it in an afternoon. I love a gossipy family saga and with bonus magic what’s not to like.
Routley creates a very distinctive world where not only is there significant cultural differences between countries but there’s also significant distinctions between classes and within classes depending on whether you have magic or not. Families are complicated in this world and I could have done with a family tree to keep cousins and aunts and w
E.J. Hill
Jun 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
I was quite looking forward to this one. It sounded interesting and, amusingly, had a picture of a cat on the front just like my last read: Pawsitively Swindled.
However, I will be perfectly honest with you already here at the start: I was rather disappointed and could not find the motivation to finish it. I don’t want to tear this book to shreds so I will keep my observances down to a few points.
Firstly, there was so much talk about sex. I mean maybe I should have expected it a little as the d
Stuart Dredge
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this a lot: it's a good mix of light-heartedness and darkness (VERY dark in the case of one character's backstory which emerges towards the end). I liked the way it treated its magic: it could have been dominated by mage battles with them blasting one another all over the shop, but instead those moments are sparing (and more exciting for it).

I liked the world building too: there are so many little aspects (the hunting cats; the 'ghost' race; the uncomplicated approach the characters ha
Midu Hadi

I requested this book on Netgalley and I'm glad I did!

Another book that I liked a lot but for one thing: there’s no explanation about why the world is the way it is. It felt as if I’d picked up the second book in an ongoing series.

There’s magic and aristocracy — the two are connected, so if you have magic, you have money. And there are rites and rituals that the aristocrats use to keep the others in line. They fight each other to gain more power and those squabbles are often fatal.

Amongst all t
Kasey Connors-Beron
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I received an ARC of SHADOW IN THE EMPIRE OF LIGHT thanks to the publisher through NetGalley.

The idea of murder and a telepathic cat caught my interest but after reading the first 18% I was checked out. The concept of the book was nothing like the summary had promised, at least not in what I read. On top of that it gave me a really creepy feeling, like skin crawly nose scrunched feeling.

A fundamental part of the world building is essentially breeding to the point where those without magic are
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I write fantasy with strong women characters.
I’ve published 3 books as me – Mage Heart and the Aurealis award winners Fire Angels and Aramaya, and one book as Rebecca Locksley – The Three Sisters. My short stories have been widely anthologized, appeared in Meanjin and read on the ABC.
My favourite writers are Jane Austen, Angela Carter, Sara Douglass, Janet Evanovich, and Gail Carriger.

My current l

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