Book Review – Empire of Light by Alex Harrow

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As the revolution gains traction, Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one moment and kiss him the next. But Aris slips further away from Damian, and as Aris’ control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire. 

Review:

So a while back on Twitter there was #ReviewPit where authors and reviewers could connect and I jumped at the chance to read this because it is absolutely full of Queer characters, also there’s a cat. Unfortunately I was just not a big fan of the book itself which meant I put off writing the review as it’s always difficult when you didn’t enjoy it. Now, I didn’t enjoy it due to my own personal preferences which does make this much easier as it is still a good book, just not one that I’d particularly enjoy.

Let’s start off with the writing. The writing is the reason I kept reading and finished this book because it’s just delightful. Some of the descriptions used are brilliant and I love the authors use of language. Sure, I may not have cared much about what I was reading, but I still enjoyed reading it.

For the plot itself, I won’t say too much as the synopsis covers it pretty well, however it is very fast paced. At times I wished it would slow down a bit – particularly the scenes with the side characters as I’d really have liked more screen time for them as I didn’t feel I really got to know any of them that well. I did enjoy the plot and certainly didn’t expect everything that happened so it’s always nice to be surprised.

One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy this book that much is that honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Damian or Aris. I liked Raeyn which did help a bit but it’s hard to enjoy a book when you don’t like the main character. There was also a lot of explicit scenes with Damian which although they were very well written (and there are trigger warnings at the start too), I did not enjoy. Of course, I imagine most people have no issue with sex scenes and indeed some people would probably love it for those scenes so if that’s what you’re looking for then this is definitely an excellent choice. There’s also a love triangle in the book and no matter how well written, I just do not enjoy love triangles.

The setting was very interesting but sadly we don’t get to see nearly as much of the worldbuilding as I’d like – which is another reason why I personally didn’t enjoy the book as much as that’s my favourite part of SFF books. The glimpses we got were super interesting though, and I was very interested in learning more about the Voyance and how it worked.

Overall though, despite not appealing to my personal tastes this was a very good book and I would highly recommend it to anybody looking for some steamy Queer Sci-Fi.

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