Destiny of the Light by Louise Cusack is the sort of book that might colloquially be called a BFF: Big Fat Fantasy. I think that’s a good term, because other possible sub-genre descriptors such as “epic fantasy” or “high fantasy” come with different connotations for different people. So BFF it is. (Even though ebooks don’t really have a thickness, shh.)
After her brother’s apparent suicide ten years previously Catherine was left alone to care for her mother during her lingering death from cancer. When she starts hearing a voice in her head, she assumes she’s crazy but the voice insists its her destiny to follow her brother to another world. Crazy or not, who can fight destiny?
And so the long lost White Princess finds her way back from an exile spent in our world to the brown, faunaless world of Ennae. Except while she was gone for three years in Ennae, she lived through fifteen years in our world. And to compound things, Khatrene, the Princess, has no memories of her childhood in Ennae. Luckily, her Guardian Champion was the one who facilitated her transition between worlds and he will do anything to protect her and get her to her brother, now the king.
However, destiny and the voice in her head don’t leave her alone once she’s back in the world she belongs in.
Destiny of the Light is full of interesting characters. There are a lot of them and it took me a few chapters to get them all sorted out in my head, with the exception of the main (-est) character, Khatrene, who stands out by being from our world. While there wasn’t much moral ambiguity among who is on the side of good and who is on the side of evil, there was ambiguity in the sense of “oh, turns out that person is evil/good” as we learn more about them. A lot of what drives the action is characters making assumptions (or listening to lies) about other characters and acting accordingly while, as the reader, we are left shaking our fists at the page screaming, “No, don’t listen to that person!” And it doesn’t tend to be stupidity or silly miscommunications which lead to problems, which is nice. (Books where everything could be solved if the characters just had a proper conversation annoy me.)
Every time I thought the plot was slowing down, something new and unexpected would happen to keep me turning the page.
The supporting characters were integral to the story. I don’t want to say too much about various enemies for spoilery reasons, but I will say the daughter of the spiritual leader and the young, brash apprentice Guardian were particularly entertaining, especially when they were in the same room. The daughter’s growth as a character between start and end was well done and definitely added depth.
The ending isn’t quite a cliff hanger, but many things are left in the air (eg almost everyone’s fates). This is the sort of trilogy where one long story is divided into three parts, rather than three self-contained stories with an overarching theme.
There is a lot in this book, and I’ve found it difficult to review. Hopefully my review encourages you to give it a shot, especially if you like BFF. Here is a link to the series page on Louise Cusack’s website with links to where you can buy the trilogy.
4 / 5 stars