The last book review of 2022?
Maybe, but if it is, we're ending on a high note!
LIGHTLARK by Alex Aster (Amulet Books)
OMG. I know, that's a very astute start to a review, but quite literally that's what I was left with by book's end. This story twists and turns, then twists some more, and just when you think you have a handle on who's duping who, what secrets are being kept, who's lying, scheming, or being real, things get spun on their head!
Lightlark is a place they all once called home. The Wildlings, Starlings, Skylings, Sunlings, Moonlings, and Nightshade... then, a curse was cast that turned their abilities into their enemies, and fractioned their peace, spreading most of them far and wide, while creating newlands for their people. Every 100 years, the rulers meet for the Centennial to try and unravel the project to break the curse... the winner takes all, and saves most, but one must fall, and so will their kingdom. It's a deadly game, revealing much without a certain end... but this year's is most important of all for it just might be the last, in more ways than one.
Caught your attention? Good because that's just setting the scene. You haven't met the players, the rulers... you haven't uncovered their secrets and desires... you haven't witnessed their heartbreak and destruction... you haven't bonded with them over the little things and seen through the big things. Isla, our Wildling leader, is a complex ball of nerves, anger, contemplation, and secrets. Sometimes she trusts too easily, and yet one can hardly blame her with the truths she is presented... other times she takes her sweet time, letting her mind run a million courses towards a misty decision.
As much as her constant self doubt frustrated me, I get where it came from, even more so as the book progresses, but I still really liked her character. She wasn't the strongest, fastest, most powerful in the bunch, but she was unequivocally herself. She made mistakes, wallowed in the aftereffects a bit, but made moves forward time and time again. It never stopped her. Never made her sit down and say, enough. She knew what was at stake, was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, and still served people their butts when their true colors were less than true.
Enjoyed the first in what looks like a planned series, and while some of the twists weren't what I was expecting, nor hoping for, I can't wait to see what the second installment may bring us. I'll be ready and waiting to walk through that door...
Special thanks to Mary at Abrams Children's Books for the copy for review! This title is available now, so put those holiday gift cards to use and snag your copy today!