Book Review: Shine Light, Marianne de Pierres

Shine Light, the final book in The Night Creatures trilogy, is an unforgettable conclusion to an original and thrilling series.

Shine Light (Night Creatures, #3)Now that Naif has learned the shocking reasons behind why young people are sent to the dark island of Ixion, she returns to expose the truth and try and liberate them from their oppressors. Her mission is urgent as the badges, which all folk are given upon entering Ixion and which control life or death, are failing. While Naif has had her badge rescinded, there’s her brother and others she cares for deeply who are at the whim of its force.

Urging all the different factions to unite and overthrow their enemy and embrace liberty, however, is no easy task. Sometimes, as Naif learns, the truth doesn’t set you free, it merely complicates everything. Nonetheless, loyal and gutsy, she determines to fight the Ripers, release those they’ve enslaved through drugs, hedonism and wanton selfishness, and shine light into the darkest recesses of Ixion and beyond.

At the heart of Naif’s deadly quest, is also a truth she must face: where does her loyalty really lie? With her fellow rebels and revellers or with the creature whom she loves so deeply, the enigmatic and sensual Lenoir?

Fast-paced and so beautifully and tautly written, this final instalment is a wild ride from start to finish. The elegance and economy of the prose means you’re plucked out of your own reality and deposited firmly in the middle of Ixion, among its toxic politics and unravelling social structures. Darkness becomes an even more powerful metaphor in this novel, representing as it does, not only ignorance and the abuse of power, but the evil that lurks about and within. Straying from the light is not only lethal in this book, it’s imbued with possibilities for deadly transformations and is offered as a temptation to which those who give up the battle succumb.

In many ways, the darkness and the Ripers signify a particular state of mind, whether drug-induced or not, and as such, function as representations of the blacker aspects of the soul, of young souls specifically. There’s a sense in which Ixion, and those who are brought there have, throughout the trilogy, been presented as being analogous to the angst-ridden teenage years: the desire to fit in, to be different and indifferent, to regard oneself as immortal. In this space, all the confused and driven psychology and emotional states of youth are realised, personified and become places and spaces as well – and it’s terrifying.

All the books have explored the various pressures of adolescence; how there are those who will stray from the “paths” – knowingly and unknowingly, willingly and unwillingly – and reap the consequences of their choices. But what the books also reveal is how those whom young people trust with their care can abuse that responsibility; exploit youthfulness for their own benefit and that realisation is the most disturbing of all – for everyone.

Through Naif, the young people of Ixion (and others) are given the opportunity to come into the light of their own power and choices and thus shine. But will they take it? Will Naif be able to resist Lenoir’s allure and the hold he has over her or will she succumb? Will Ixion surrender its terrible secret in time?

You’ll have to read this marvellous book to find out.


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Angel Arias: Marianne de Pierres

This is a more comprehensive version of the review I wrote in Goodreads.

The sequel to Burn Bright, Angel Arias, firmly cements Marianne de Pierres reputation as one of the finest writers of young adult speculative fiction. Continuing where Naif’s adventures ended in the last novel – with her escape from Ixion, Angel Arias is a fast-paced thriller that poses a burning question: what is the relationship between Ixion (the Ripers) and Grave (the Elders)? It’s now up to Naif and her friends to find the answer.

But leaving Ixion has not been easy for Naïf. Not only has she left behind her friend, Suki and her brother, but the Riper, Lenoir, as well. Their blood bond makes the distance between them more than a physical wrench and means that Naif is still connected to the haunting demesne of Ixion and its travails, which makes focussing on her current situation harder than usual. Knowing Ixion is on the cusp of rebellion and that the answer to all the puzzles surrounding the Night Creatures, Ripers, and the disenchanted young refugees who flock to Ixion, lie in her home of Grave, Naïf is unable to remain in limbo on Raskalia’s island sanctuary – especially not when the young people the pirate saved from certain death turn on their saviour and those they believe are plotting against them. And so the scene is set for a breath-taking adventure that sees Naïf putting her life on the line to learn the terrible secret that links Grave and Ixion, her past and her present, her friends and her foe. Finding allies where she least expects it and betrayal where there should be loyalty, Naïf has her courage and wits tested to the limit. But when she learns the truth about the Ripers and the Elders and begins to comprehend the sacrifices that are being made in the name of politics and social experiments, she’s forced to make a terrible and deadly decision.

Breath-taking, with wonderfully drawn scenes and dialogue, Angel Arias is a terrific sequel examining faith, friendship, exploitation and the abuse of hegemony in subtle and thought-provoking ways. Through the character of Naïf, we come to see that this complex world, with its strange creatures, juxtaposition of hedonism and control and dour and passionate humans, is not black and white, but an intricate mix where rights and responsibilities are both personal and highly political: the choice, regardless of age or race, is yours. This tale leaves you wanting more. Bring on the third book! Stat!

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