Review: Lumiere

cover-lumiereTitle: Lumiere
Author: Jacqueline E. Garlick
Series: The Illumination Paradox #1
Genre: YA Steampunk Fantasy
Length: Novel
Available: Now


Even in a land of eternal twilight, secrets can’t stay in the dark forever.

Seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth has only one hope left: finding her late father’s most prized invention, the Illuminator. It’s been missing since the day of the mysterious flash—a day that saw the sun wiped out forever over England.

But living in darkness is nothing new to Eyelet. She’s hidden her secret affliction all of her life—a life that would be in danger if superstitious townspeople ever guessed the truth. And after her mother is accused and executed for a crime that she didn’t commit, the now-orphaned Eyelet has no choice but to track down the machine that was created with the sole purpose of being her cure.

Alone and on the run, she finally discovers the Illuminator—only to see a young man hauling it off. Determined to follow the thief and recover the machine, she ventures into the deepest, darkest, most dangerous part of her twisted world.

Revised edition: This edition of Lumière includes editorial revisions.

Source: Review copy from Skyscape (Amazon Publishing) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book frustrated me. There’s so much about it to like – the steampunk elements, the Industrial Revolution era dystopia, Urlick and his strange house filled with misfit gadgets and people. Then there are the things I didn’t like so much, such as whether or not this actually was Victorian England. And then there was Eyelet. Who I hated.

I realise that hate is a strong word, but I genuinely had these feelings towards Eyelet. In fact I put the book down three times vowing to have done with it – but I liked Urlick enough to want to know what happened to him. It probably have would been better if I had. Eyelet is a brat, she’s selfish, contrary, opinionated, judgemental and far too superior in her entire manner, the fact that’s she’s perfectly beautiful too just highlighted how her looks did not match her personality. She also has frequent too-stupid-to-live moments and on several occasions I actually said aloud, “Just let her die, Urlick!” Sadly, he didn’t listen to me. This book would have been so much better if he had.

I could probably go on all day about why I didn’t like Eyelet, but I’ll spare you. Instead I’ll move on to the setting, because while I loved the details of this world, the wider perspective left me baffled. Is it England? Because for the most part I thought it was another world, until Charles Darwin is mentioned, then Stonehenge. There’s also a mention of the Great Fire, but since it’s 1766 rather than 1666 I don’t know if that’s a typo or an intentional difference. Mostly I just found it annoying. A bit like the ravens. Ravens have a wonderful range of noises and are great mimics, but these birds only caw. They might as well have been crows.

I also had a few issues with the plot. The first chapter (after the prologue) launches straight into everything without giving the reader any lead in. At this point we don’t know what happened to Eyelet’s father, we have no knowledge of her status in the world and no understanding of her mother and her importance, since there’s a throwaway comment about her looking after the heir – which is never mentioned again. Since there’s no background or basis for any of this, what follows is completely robbed of any emotional context. Eyelet is a selfish brat, something bad happens, she runs away – I have absolutely no reason to like her, and nothing that follows changes my mind.

As for the rest of the plot, despite a lot of action scenes, nothing much actually happens to move the story onwards until right towards the end. Mostly it’s scenes of Eyelet being annoying and Urlick being confused.

Which is a shame, because I did actually like Urlick a lot. Except for his belief that Eyelet is wonderful. I get that he’d be blinded by her perfect looks, considering his birthmark and the way he’s been treated all his life, but you’d think her behaviour and complete lack of decency would have made an impression. Anyway, I liked Urlick’s inventiveness and his goodness and his sense of adventure. I thought he was great – and I loved Bertie the bat cycle, even if his existence made absolutely no sense in the context of the story. Just how was he created, considering Urlick doesn’t believe in magic? And what was that secret garden about? How was it even possible in a world with no sun?

So, yes, there are some good points in this book, but almost all of them are undermined by other things. Clearly the author loves this world and is enthusiastic about bits of it – mostly the inventions and the steampunk elements – but everything else suffers because of that. The world is interesting, but underdeveloped, the characters are hit and miss and the plot gets caught up in flashy sequences that don’t offer anything except further evidence in my file against Eyelet. (We need to sneak into the city. I know! I’ll shout at the ravens that only follow me around. No one will ever knows it’s me! And then I’ll stand around shouting in front of the gates, ’cause that won’t attract attention.) There’s so much potential here, but in the end I was just left annoyed and frustrated by how things turned out. Guess this one just wasn’t for me.

Lumiere is Out Now.
Visit Jacqueline E. Garlick for more details.


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