Lumière

Lumiere

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Lumière, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.

Lumière was written by Jacqueline E. Garlick and first published in 2015. It is a science-fiction/fantasy novel that focuses on a teenage girl who is searching for a machine that will cure her debilitating seizures. The story is the first book in The Illumination Paradox series and is followed by Noir (2015).

Eyelet Elsworth lives in a world where witches are punished by death and the mentally ill are treated like monsters. Afflicted with seizures since childhood, her parents have gone to great lengths to hide her condition from the world to prevent their daughter from living out her days imprisoned in an asylum. Her father tries to develop a machine called the Illuminator that will cure her, however he dies before it can be completed. On the same day, a brilliant flash lights up the sky and the sun fails to rise again.

Over the years that follow, Eyelet dreams of completing her father’s work. When her mother is executed for witchcraft, she leaves one item in her daughter’s care – a glowing pendant that holds the ability to save everyone. With pendant in hand, Eyelet sets off in search of her father’s stolen Illuminator but discovers it just in time to see it being stolen.

Hitching a ride on the back of his carriage, Eyelet soon finds herself stranded in a subterranean mansion in the woods. Unable to escape due to the encroaching deadly vapours, she reluctantly finds herself in the care of the thief – a disfigured youth by the name of Urlick Babbit. Although Urlick is sullen and his house is full of secrets, Eyelet soon realises that she needs to work with him if she is ever to get the machine operational. What she doesn’t know is that the true purpose of the device is more terrible than she could ever have imagined…

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Lumière does have a lot going for it as a novel. It’s very well written and I really found Garlick’s writing style easy to get into. Although it dragged a little in the second quarter, the Gothic style was very visual and gave the entire story a surreal, almost Burton-esque atmosphere. While the prose did occasionally loose cohesion during the fast paced sequences making the action a little hard to follow, it was largely incredibly well edited and contained few errors.

The story’s core plot regarding the Illuminator and what happened to cause the Night of the Great Illumination was utterly compelling and was more than enough to keep me turning the page. I really did want to discover what went down in the night that Eyelet’s father died and the secrets that his missing journals contained. Unfortunately, this story did become a little buried under a mass of subplots. While did find its feet over the last hundred pages or so, the build up to this was padded by the inclusion of many elements that I personally felt unnecessary.

I did get the impression that Garlick had taken an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to her writing in order to incorporate her many interests. While it’s clear that the author’s imagination is fantastic, I unfortunately felt that they did hinder the development of her plot. If the story had just been left as a Victorian-style steampunk mystery, it would have read a lot smoother. However, added on to this were many other elements. Flying sentient bicycles, women who could turn into ravens, a forest filled with ghosts and cannibals, a floating city in the clouds, a mysterious poisonous fog, a hidden house filled with society’s outcasts, a conspiracy centred around the murder of the prince. Any of these could have formed the subject of a compelling story but as they all were crammed into this novel, they just didn’t receive the development that they deserved.

A good example for this was the death of the prince. This occurred off page very early in the story but it is the reason why Eyelet’s mother was condemned and executed as a witch. Yet this thread is never picked up again. I don’t think characters even mention it again over the story, so why was it included? The accusation of Wickedry could have come from anywhere (the fact that her mother spoke to ravens sounds witchy enough to me). Why make it something so incredibly serious and important sounding and then never develop it?

The novel also ended on a rather abrupt cliff-hanger, leaving many questions that I had unanswered. This was more than a little frustrating. The second half of the story ramped up the tension more and more with every chapter and yet broke off with at a point which left one of the major characters in mortal peril. While this certainly isn’t the worst cliff-hanger I’ve whinged about, it did leave me feeling a little frustrated. Yet, to be fair, I can’t really hold this against the author. The only reason it frustrated me so much was because I adored her characters.

The characterisation in Lumière was by far its most attractive feature, which is somewhat ironic given that its cast is largely made up by disfigured individuals. It reminded me a little of the cast of Gormenghast, in that even the most beautiful characters were really only beautiful when compared to the rest. The core cast includes a boy with “albino-like features” and a large port wine birthmark on his face, a girl with a hair lip, two girls who suffered from grand mal seizures, a hunch-backed mute and a man with no arms. I really liked the fact that no one in this story was really portrayed as being “normal” and that their features were no indication of goodness or badness. Their flaws (and their varying degrees of acceptance of them) brought them together and helped make every one of them incredibly memorable.

Chapters alternated between being told in first person by Eyelet and Ulrick and this worked incredibly well. Both of them spoke with very different voices and so I never lost track of who was speaking. I also loved the way that their narratives showed up the personality flaws in each other that they could not see in themselves. Ulrick views himself as being shy and awkward but this is perceived as coldness by Eyelet. Similarly, Eyelet views herself as being a strong and independent person but Ulrick initially views her as being stuck up.

I also felt that they were both incredibly developed protagonists. Although Ulrick took a long time to grow on me (his early attitude towards Eyelet just seemed to be needlessly hostile at times), I was completely behind Eyelet from the word go. Their relationship builds in a gradual and believable way and I really did adored the fact that they have an equal role to play in the climax. There are no shrinking violet heroines in this story. Ulrick saves Eyelet and Eyelet saves Ulrick and both of their skills and knowledge is essential in story’s final chapters.

I don’t really have an awful lot more to say about this story. Although Lumière felt a bit over-ambitious in terms of its scope, it was a compelling novel filled with unique and memorable characters. I am curious to see how the story will conclude and will certainly be checking out Noir in a future review.

Lumière can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Giselle
    Nov 09, 2015 @ 12:18:38

    Lovely review! This sounds right up my alley! I love how easy the writing style sounds, and the atmosphere seems very well crafted, too. I love Gothic novels and the main reason is bc they’re so cinematic most of the time. This sounds like a well written read overall!

    Reply

    • Kim
      Nov 09, 2015 @ 12:23:20

      I completely agree. Gothic novels just have that sublime edge to them. Cinematic is also a good word to describe this story – it certainly had the feel of a Tim Burton movie!

      Reply

  2. garlickbusybodies
    Nov 11, 2015 @ 18:40:16

    From your mouth to Tim’s ears! LOL Thanks so much Kim for the lovely, detailed review. I appreciate your words so much! Thank YOU!

    Reply

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