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A Restless Truth is Freya Marske’s much anticipated sequel to her queer historical fantasy, A Marvellous Light

a-restless-truth.jpg?resize=195%2C300&ssThe story picks up not long after the events of the first novel, and just like the first novel, events are kicked off with a murder! This time around, we leave Robin and Edwin behind, and follow Maud (yay!). She’s aiding her brother and Edwin on their search for the pieces of the Contract; she’s on her way back from America in the guise as companion to a Mrs Navenby, late friend to Flora Sutton and guardian of a piece of the Contract.

A Restless Truth is a much more claustrophobic affair – the whole story takes place over the course of the cruise, and as such we’re confined with Maud to the decks of the ship. In this regard, Marske has managed to retain the levels of high risk and action that we saw in the first book, without suffering from the whole second-book trap of the reader’s foreknowledge. Likewise, as much as I missed the presence of Robin and Edwin, I had to admire the sense in shifting the adventure to a new set of protagonists, some new and some familiar. I thought it was a clever way of continuing the conspiracy of the Contract, whilst keeping it fresh.

Maud was one of my favourite characters in A Marvellous Light, so I was absolutely delighted that we’d get to know her better in the sequel. What I wasn’t expecting, and what I absolutely love, is the way in which Marske sends Maud on a personal journey of growth through this journey over the Atlantic – Maud learns a great deal about herself throughout this book, which naturally draws you as a reader closer to her also. There were so many moments I found myself feeling proud of Maud, where she pushed herself to achieve.

After events take a turn, Maud finds she needs to make magical allies on board – and so we end up with a reluctant crime-solving band of Maud, Violet Debenham (an exuberant and often in disgrace ex-actress), the haughty and standoffish Lord Hawthorn you may remember from book one, and the enterprising tea-leaf Ross. Marske focuses a great deal more on the solving of the murder this time round; we’re familiar with the world and the magic system, so we’re free to enjoy that in more of a backseat capacity and instead concentrate our efforts on the puzzle of the murder and outwitting the villains. If A Marvellous Light was like gay magical Downton, then A Restless Truth is very much lesbian magical Agatha Christie on the Titanic (minus icebergs).

“A person is an act, Maud. A person is a theatre. You change the set dressing depending on the season. The real parts are the parts that aren’t meant to be seen.”

As Robin and Edwin’s romance was central to the first book, as is Maud and Violet’s this time round. You can expect a great deal more spice, and from earlier on. Their relationship is a fierce spark ignited from the close quarters and pressure on board, but no less complex. Their personal hurdles they place before themselves are believable, relatable. I especially appreciated Marske’s portrayal of a bisexual character, a sexuality I haven’t often seen represented in the stories I read. It was almost like, with less physical space for exploration, we’re left instead to be emotionally exploratory.

This is yet another read that will have you burning through the pages. It was intense, hilarious, downright dirty sometimes, and as ever, utterly magical. Marske is fast becoming a favourite author of mine.

Liminal space was where the magic was done, but you couldn’t hide in it forever. Sooner or later you set foot on dry land.

A Restless Truth is out 10th November 2022 and is available for pre-order HERE


The post A RESTLESS TRUTH by Freya Marske (BOOK REVIEW) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive.

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