A Turn of Light by Julia Czerneda

It’s book discussion time!!!Turn-Cover-HR-shadow

I have to say that I loved this book. I want to dig in and talk about so much but I don’t know where to begin. I would love first to hear about your reactions, I think. I can imagine this book didn’t appeal to everyone. Even if you haven’t finished yet, do say what you’re thinking.

This was one of those books I read largely in one sitting. Part of that was because I started it, then started teaching again, and had a bunch of life stuff. But part of it was that once I started, I realized I wanted to read it straight through. It’s a complex book told in wonderful prose that looks deceptively simple but is not in any way.

So let’s begin with your thinking and your reactions. Talk to me. Lay it all out. Go!


  • Adrianne

    I loved this book, and I don’t know where to start either! It was like eating a whole box of chocolate truffles. It was so delicious that I couldn’t stop, but I couldn’t down it all in one sitting either.

    I loved the way so many things weren’t quite what anyone expected: the horse that wasn’t a horse, the toads who were more than toads, the invisible Wisp who isn’t really a wisp at all.

    I loved the way magic was — magic. Not just some other way to do things faster/easier that could be interchanged with high tech.

    I loved the way Julie foreshadowed things. I knew for pages that Jenn was going to do the wrong thing to Wisp. And I kept shouting at her not to. And yet she did it both with the best of intentions and while keeping her promise to ask him first. And similarly, I could see the train wreck at the end coming from a million miles away. But every step along the way HAD to follow the ones previous.

    I loved the way Julie built tension into the story without having an Evil Overlord bearing down on the community. It was a revelation and a whole new way of building tension for me.

    But most of all, I loved the way every character in the book cared for others. And I love the way that caring brought conflict into their lives.

  • Di Francis

    It really is a well put together novel, isn’t it? I rather marvel at the detail that weaves together into such a whole.

    REading this reminded me of the term “sense of wonder” that is often used in Science Fiction studies. I kept thinking that this book captured the sense of wonder of the power of magic and the coolness and delight of it. I think my favorite thing in the whole book is the house toads and the way they function and the way they are sentries.

    I was a little irritated with the way that Jenn kept doing things that she wanted without really consulting those affected. But at the same time, I got it because she’s young, and she’s recognizes it’s wrong but keeps making the same mistake, until she doesn’t. She learns.

    I loved Bannon and Tir and well, I loved them all. I have such high hopes for Wainn and Wen.

    The sei were closest to the evil overload, but I thought it perfect that it was one of their own who was suffering on account of pennance. That concept seemed to fundamental to how they worked so it made so much sense. The only thing I wished I understood better was what exactly was the problem with the sei that was trapped. What did Jenn do to help him in the end? What do you think she did?

  • Adrianne

    The sei was trapped in the verge, neither one place, nor the other. Jenn’s talent, like her mothers, was to find things, and the sei asked to be taken home. Jenn pushed him home by wishing him there, which I take to be the non-human side of the rift.

    The part I had the most trouble with was the nephrit. Were they moths? Were they wheat? Were they trees? Were they mobile? I had trouble visualizing them. And why were they keeping Jenn away from the sei?

    • Di Francis

      I was under the impression that the sei at least partially remained in the edge. Or else the bone hills were not entirely sei. I’m confused now.

      The sei was the moths, or a moth. The nyphrit or however that was spelled were like wolves or predators. But in hordes. I got the feeling they were on both sides because some were left behind in the big Great Turn like the other critters. The house toads would protect Marrowdell from them, but they were eating the sei and apparently by doing so were getting big and really increasing in numbers.

      Different critters took care of the grain. Forget their names.

      One of the things that I liked was that even the people who were likable (like Wyll or Mistress Sands) were capable of doing real harm/violence to Jenn or whomever if the need arose. They weren’t bad, but duty bound.

      I simply love the way that Tir forced the separation and letter writing. That letter writing added such depth to things I thought, and also allowed Jenn to know Bannon better. Loved that.

      • Adrianne

        Ah! I must have confused the nyphrit and the sei in places.

        I liked it too that the likable characters were duty bound to harm whoever if need arose. It gave a depth to the characters I don’t think could have been managed otherwise.

        And yes, the letter writing was lovely and sweet and so well done.

        I think you’re right about the sense of wonder in the book. It’s something I look for in everything I read. It’s something I enjoyed in Asimov’s books and Clarke’s and have continued to hunt out over the years.

        I hope we don’t have to wait 3 years for the sequel!

        • Di Francis

          Do you think there will be a sequel? This felt like it stood alone. Though I’d love to see what becomes of Roche.

          I would have liked to know more about Melusine’s magic. I thought it was cool that she found Marrowdell. But I wished we’d learned more about it. Especially since her finding talent becomes so important.

          I wonder what the sei tears will do to or for Jenn and her magic.

          • Adrianne

            Julie’s promised a sequel. She’s got a contract and started writing. She hasn’t uttered a peep about what will be in it. I think she’s calling it _A Play of Shadows_.

            I wonder about the sei tears too.

            • Khavrinen

              You know, many authors these days have their own websites where you can find these things out… 😉 Julie Czerneda’s ( http://www.czerneda.com/index.html ) says, regarding the launch of A Turn of Light, “After celebrating, I’ll get back to A Play of Shadow, Book Two of Night’s Edge.”

              While I have my copy, I didn’t manage to read it in time to participate here yesterday; luckily my memory is lousy enough I don’t have to worry too much about being spoilered by the discussion.

  • Julie Czerneda

    ::grins:: Oh yes, there’s a sequel underway. A PLAY OF SHADOW is the title and with some luck and sweat it’s to come out in 2014.
    Loved the comments. The trapped sei is still trapped, or else the edge would fall apart, but it’s no longer pulled so far into Jenn’s world and can keep itself safe. It shows itself as the moth as well. The nyphrit are the nasty “rodents of unusual size” who come in varied sizes, btw. The neyet (easy to confuse the two names — hindsight is perfect) are what appear to be trees. This help?

    Thanks again. Lovely to see what worked.

    • Di Francis

      Frankly this book should be nominated for every fantasy award out there. It’s absolutely lovely. I’d totally blurb for you if you wanted.

      I did catch the Princes Bride rodent ref. I loved it.

      Got any hints about what you plan to do in A Play of Shadow? I still want a house toad.

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