A brand new Fantasy adventure from Terry Brooks arrives this week with Child of Light, but is it worth picking up for your Fall reading list? Let’s talk.
Child of Light
Written By: Terry Brooks
Release Date: October 19, 2022
Purchase [Affiliate Link]: https://amzn.to/3lTgzyO
Having just recently finished up his decades long journey through the iconic Shannara series, Terry Brooks isn’t quite ready to leave the fantasy genre behind. Instead, he’s starting off a new adventure filled with magic, modern aesthetics, and a touch of romance. While Child of Light is the beginning of a new fantasy series, it certainly treads some familiar ground…
The novel puts the focus on Auris Afton Grieg (and is told entirely from her point of view), a 19-year old young lady who finds herself in a strange position. The story begins as she escapes from prison, having been put there for reasons she cant remember (seriously, her childhood memories are entirely blocked).
In this prison, run entirely by gruesome Goblins, humans are both a source of labor AND food. In a daring escape which kicks off the novel, Auris soon finds out the world is much bigger than she ever dared to dream. Finding herself immersed in a brand new magical world.
After a deadly chase, Auris manages to elude the Goblins trying to bring her back to prison with the help of Harrow, a Fae guardian (think elves but not quite). Entering the hidden land of the Fae, Auris finds new opportunity, but as she begins to uncover her own magical abilities, and sinister forces seem hellbent on bringing her back, the secret of her past cannot be ignored.
As her past begins to cause more problems for the people who took her in, Auris must discover the reason behind it all. Not only to protect those she’s come to think of as family, but for her own piece of mind.
I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, so I’m keeping some things intentionally vague. It’s a relatively short novel (a rarity in the Fantasy genre, that even Brooks’ himself used to struggle with), and moves along at a breakneck pace. There’s quite a bit that happens, but there’s an impressive amount of “fat trimming” that keeps it from feeling bogged down or dragged out.
This is both good and bad. It’s good in that there’s not a whole lot of exposition just for the sake of it. No overlong explanations of the way the grass bends as the protagonists embark on their weeks long journey where every step must be accompanied by some description…Instead, we get to dive into the heart of the story itself, with much of the world building coming from Auris’ reaction to all the new stuff she encounters.
The bad part of it, is that it feels like it cuts back almost too much. There are a number of things that happen in the novel, many of which could have served as a final act in just about any other story. From a daring raid/rescue, to an infiltration to enemy territory, Auris goes through a LOT in what seems to be such a short time.
The problem is everything just sort of…happens. Child of Light unfolds as a sequence of one event after another, with hardly any time spent showing the characters dealing with these events. As such, it’s difficult to feel any real connection to the characters.
There are a number of interesting people Auris meets along this journey (including some dastardly villains), but too often I felt like I was TOLD how to feel about them, rather than actually seeing it play out. For example, there are a pair of children that end up being akin to sisters with Auris. Aside from proximity to each other, and the story telling me Auris feels close to them, I can’t say I fully understood why. Considering a linchpin of the story involves a love story pulled straight out of a young adult fantasy book, this style feels even more frustrating.
On top of that, many of the elements introduced in this novel feel like fairly typical Fantasy-fare. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and Terry Brooks knows the tropes well enough to still make them feel engaging. Even so, it makes for a story that you can, generally, guess where things are heading, even as they’re set up to be big reveals for the characters.
That said, however, even as I struggled with these aspects of the book, I found myself unable to put it down. I think I knocked it out entirely in just a couple days. It moves incredibly fast, jumping from action to action, and throwing in enough lore about this new world to make you eager to learn more. Despite the issues I had, I enjoyed the world-building and find myself anxious to see what happens next for Auris and the new world that’s opened up to her.