Review of Igniting Darkness

Igniting Darkness
by Robin LaFevers
High School    Houghton    560 pp.    g
8/20    978-0-544-99109-5    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-358-33580-1    $9.99

In the second book of a duology (Courting Darkness, rev. 1/19) set in an alt-historical world of fifteenth-century Brittany and France (also the setting of several of her other novels), LaFevers returns to the tangle of intrigue and danger in which she last left Sybella and Genevieve, both trained assassins of the convent of Saint Mortain, patron saint of death. Ensconced as attendant to France’s new queen, Sybella fights to keep her young sisters safe from her half-brother, a powerful and sexually predatory viscount. Meanwhile, Genevieve has become a sometimes-trusted lover and friend to France’s king, but has endangered the convent she serves by telling him of its nature. And, pressed as he is on all sides by seditious, power-greedy advisors, the king’s indecisiveness and insecurities are the greatest threat of all. LaFevers wraps up the romances and story lines of escape and treachery first set in motion in the previous volume, in part through a broader arena of rebellion and national misalliance, which culminates in the (literal) pyrotechnics of Sybella, Genevieve, and their band of friends and allies. Aside from their formidable efficiency in killing and routing much larger forces — skills the novel values highly — Sybella and Genevieve are characterized as finding healing and resolution from traumatic pasts through romance and through their own sisterly solidarity.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker
Deirdre Baker
Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the past tense.

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