Touch of Light by Thiago Abdalla

SPFBO Status: Finalist

Rate: 6/10

Medium: ebook

Overview (No Spoilers):

A Touch of Light follows three individuals from vastly different walks of life. To start, Prince Adrian must find a way to cope with crippling grief following the loss of his brother in a society where it’s considered taboo to mention those who’ve passed on. Adding to his troubles is a father who rarely shows affection and is tight-lipped about all he has planned. When Adrian loses yet another loved one, what will he sacrifice for the chance to preserve them in hopes that they can be revived in the future? Elsewhere, Lynn is hiding from a powerful organization after a series of unfortunate events. Desperate to redeem herself for past wrongs, can she help prevent the spread of a deadly disease before her guilt consumes her? This tale also features Nasha, an outsider whose motivations and loyalties are layered and nuanced. It is her strange and violent powers, however, that remain a mystery…

Since the paths of these main characters do not overlap within A Touch of Light, this novel feels more like a series of separate stories that are set in the same literary world. The writing is well done, and through it, Abdalla encourages the reader to piece things together – this is a style that works well for me but can lead to confusion if one doesn’t pay attention. Despite the novel’s length, character development felt stagnant, with the main characters never growing beyond their personality flaws. In fact, these characters almost seem to double down in predictable ways, refusing to recognize the error of their ways. For example, Adrian’s tunnel vision drives him to make one poor and impulsive decision after another, despite the responsibilities he bears. Additionally, the chip on Nasha’s shoulder is another crutch that hinders her character from evolving beyond someone who has escaped the Slopes. She is compelling though, as I found myself wanting to know about her powers, both in origin and potential, to understand what she is fully capable of. 

Overall, A Touch of Light expends a lot of energy exploring political and religious machinations, culminating in revelations that set the story up nicely for the sequel to expand upon.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • If the madness is manufactured, how did Ferrin’s brother get the first variety? Will Ferrin find out that his brother was killed by Lynn?
  • Why did Lynn run away from the Sentinels?
  • How were the Sentinels and the Royal family prolonging their lives? How did this result in the land becoming corrupted?
  • Does Adrian have the madness? How did he corrupt Kahlia and Xakhar? Was it from the open wounds in his mouth? If so, he has some serious backwash issues.
  • Does Nasir also have the madness?
  • Where does Nasha’s curse come from? What is the extent of her powers? 
  • How will Shai even fit back into the village? There wasn’t a better option for her than returning? What about the upcoming war?
  • Who was the Carswell boy that Nasha bartered with?
  • Flinging the tainted blood into the enemy ranks was rather genius, but if the alchemists were so good couldn’t they have manufactured a more potent medium to transmit the madness? 
  • The madness was manufactured by the Dakhran? How did Lynn tell that from the one vial Leardin had? How did he get a vial?
  • What were Jovu and his father hiding from Adrian?

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