Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene was an interestingly conceived story written in the vein of Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s Curse series and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series.
The story is set in a world where night no longer exists and day is ruler. This world is populated with handfuls of people who possess a unique gift – a legacy of magic. Each legacy is different, unique to each human. In Sylvie’s case, the heroine of this book, her legacy is the ability to create illusions, to project her imagination of what she wants the world to be.
Brought up at the edge of the world known as the Dusklands where there is perpetual twilight, Sylvie always knew she was different. Raised amongst people who feared her power, she takes it upon herself to travel to the day-drenched Amber City, a kingdom rumored to be filled with people like her, people with legacies that would accept her and make her one of their own. But once she arrives in the Amber City, demanding entrance into the glittering court, she discovers its exterior beauty might not mirror the darkness that exists in its heart.
The depiction of magic in this book was really lovely, and I personally liked that the author used the terms of Compline, Matins, Prime, etc., to keep time. I also really liked the way she handled the reason why night and day fell into disorder. I was not wild about Sylvie, to be honest. I’ve nothing against strong heroines, but in her case, she always seemed on the edge of fury and pretty much constantly in a state of rage. I found her to have a huge lack of control over her emotions, to be so eager to rush headlong into what she considered her rights that she ignored the subtle warnings other characters threw at her. My favorite character was a girl called Lullaby. She felt like a normal breath of air in a story filled with characters who almost felt too overwritten to be believed. The characters in this book almost reminded me of the Capital people in The Hunger Games: gaudy, ridiculous, and almost too effusive to be believed. The overall idea of the story, though, and the climax was interesting enough to keep me reading, and I’d be willing to pick up the second book and see how it goes.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic Press (A Scholastic Imprint)
Profanity/Language: 9 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names.
Violence/Gore: Many instances of violence and gore, including but not limited to: Several reports of violence, discussions of coups, and implication of violence; incidences of people going missing; soldiers attack a caravan; many instances of a character recollecting a childhood of abuse; a character is dowsed with magic, which is a painful experience; several instances of characters verbally fighting and trading insults; a girl slaps another girl’s wrist; a man uses his magic to hurt a woman; a character is sometimes publicly mocked and made fun of; a character frequently experiences feelings of rage and tends to lash out; a character is asked to join a revolution; report of a character murdering multiple family members; report of a failed assassination attempt, and the execution of many prisoners; a man breaks through an illusion and kills two would-be assassins; a character sees severed heads on pikes; a character conjures illusions to be pursued by guards and a vengeful ruler; a character tries to throttle another; a character is accused of killing family members; a character appears to be shot and killed by an arrow; a character uses her magic to shatter mirror glass and use them as weapons; characters are cut on glass splinters; characters struggle to kill each other; a character stabs another character to death; an injured girl sees the culmination of violence and destruction, sees her friends wounded and one near death; a character is forced to flee in order to save the kingdom.
Sex/Nudity: Many instances of sex and nudity, including but not limited to: Many instances of girls flirting with boys; several instances of boys flirting with boys and girls flirting with girls; a girl jokes about her maids seeing her undressed; mention of a child’s father abandoning the baby; a girl notices a man’s good looks; a young man flirts with and flatters a girl; a girl strips out of ruined clothes; a man rests his hand on another man’s thighs (sexual); mention of people stealing kisses and exploring each others’ bodies; a man wishes to marry another man; a girl sees a sleeping man with his shirt pulled open; a woman baits a man about a failed seduction; half-naked people are dressed as candelabras; a woman wears a gown split open to her navel; a girl stumbles across an apparent trysting couple; a man traps a woman against a wall and puts his knee between her legs (somewhat sexual); a man pulls a woman onto his lap so that her gown gathers around her thighs; mention of illegitimate children; a man walks in on a woman who is dressed in nothing but a nightgown; a prominent gay character; a toxic romance.
Mature Subject Matter:
Racial, socioeconomic, gender identity issues, treachery, death of family members, death of friends, war, gambling, abandonment, homelessness, child abuse, marriage infidelity, addictions, ethics, homosexuality.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters set out wine for the dead; a character accuses another of wanting fine wines; a character inhales the perfume of sweet wine and spices; a girl feels loose from drinking wine while bathing; a girl breathes in tabak smoke; a man accuses a woman of drinking all his wine; a girl pours wine for her and her friends to drink; characters drink wine and play cards; a man is high on drugs; a man is blind drunk; a man smokes tabak; a girl drinks wine at a ball; characters smoke and drink; characters drink ale, wine, and other alcohol; a man pours a large glass of wine for himself; mention of beer; people sell illusions to make one drunk; a crowd is described as half drunk; a character is said to be hours drunker than another character.