Skip to main content

Amber & Dusk

Review

Amber & Dusk

In her bold debut, AMBER & DUSK, Lyra Selene sweeps us into a dark and mysterious world where the sun never sets and the moon never rises.

Sylvie was born in the permanent twilight of the Dusklands. Raised by the Sisters of the Scion, she has always known that she is destined for more. She has the power of a legacy in her blood, the ability to create illusions from her fingertips. Which means she doesn’t belong in the dusty and forgotten edge of the world. She belongs in the Coeur d’Or, a courtier for the Amber Empress in the palais.

She heads off to the Amber City, the city that glows bright, under a sun that never sets. But Sylvie quickly discovers that simply having a legacy doesn’t mean she belongs at the palais. The Empress is cruel, dividing her court between the Sinisters and the Dexters, and only accepts Sylvie on a wager among the courtiers.

"The prose is stunning, full of sentences that glimmer with all the elegance of a royal court...AMBER & DUSK is for readers who enjoy gorgeous writing, dark fantasy and simply want to enjoy a beautiful story."

Renamed Mirage, Sylvie has a short period of time to learn all the customs and hone her magic before being presented for final judgement before the entire court. Even though she creates illusions, Mirage quickly learns that the glamour and prestige of the famed Coeur d’Or is not quite what she once believed. She’ll have to decide if the cost of following what she always thought was her rightful place, is a price she’s willing to pay.

There is quite a bit to delight over in this intricate world. First, the world building is well done. It’s easy to imagine the world where pieces exist in perpetual dark and some in perpetual light. And I loved how Selene wove the legends behind the world into the story. It never felt clunky or bulky, and was very easy to get swept into this world of extremes.

I also love how the nature of the world was tied into the nature of the societies too, in multiple ways. From how wealth and power flows inward, in direct correlation with the light. The light and dark aspects of the Coeur d’Or itself, and even in the splintered nature Mirage finds herself struggling internally with. They all merge to create an immersive story with intricate layers of relevancy.

With the French language and tumultuous court, it’s impossible not to link or relate this novel with a fantasy version of Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. At least, it was impossible for me. The court that is equal parts debauchery and obliviousness made the connection even stronger. That isn’t to say it reads exactly like that part of history, more an overall impression, and perhaps that was my own bias influencing how I was reading.

The prose is stunning, full of sentences that glimmer with all the elegance of a royal court. Fans of this type of writing will find themselves swooning on nearly every page. There are several recognizable tropes at play within the plot, and while that won’t deter many readers, it did make the story feel a bit too predictable. Which is where I think the novel missed the mark for me. I kept waiting for the unexpected twist to happen, to take these plot lines into the unpredictable, for this novel to glint a sharp smile and bare its teeth. But that bite just never happened. At least, not quite deep enough for what I wanted from it.

AMBER & DUSK is for readers who enjoy gorgeous writing, dark fantasy and simply want to enjoy a beautiful story. While I wanted more, I still found myself enjoying the book and am intrigued to continue Mirage’s journey in the sequel.

Reviewed by Jena Brown on December 18, 2018

Amber & Dusk
by Lyra Selene

  • Publication Date: November 27, 2018
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult 13+
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 1338210033
  • ISBN-13: 9781338210033