Review: The Lightstruck by Sunya Mara

The Lightstruck by Sunya Mara cover shows a person's face in profile made of thin beams of light streaming out from where their eye would be.

The Lightstruck (The Darkening #2)
Sunya Mara
Clarion Books
Published August 29, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Lightstruck

In this epic sequel and conclusion to the Darkening duology, which has been called “enchanting and wildly clever” (Ayana Gray, New York Times bestselling author of Beasts of Prey), Vesper Vale, once savior to a city plagued by cursed storms, finds herself facing an even more sinister threat when an ominous light summoned by the Great King seizes control of the city.

Vesper Vale sacrificed everything to save her city from the cursed storm. After becoming a vessel of The Great Queen, Vesper awakes from a slumber three years after her life altering choice.

What she finds isn’t a home freed from the terror of the storm, but one where its citizens are besieged by the even more sinister force of The Great King and his growing army of the lightstruck—once regular citizens who are now controlled by the ominous light encroaching on the city. And the people are all looking to Vesper, now revered as a goddess after her sacrifice, as their city’s only hope.

To save the rings from the Great King, Vesper must contend with the obligations of being a deity to her people and the growing chasm between her and Dalca, the prince she swore never to love. Haunted by the guilt of their past choices and faced with the pressures of a city near ruin, Vesper and Dalca find themselves torn between the growing factions within the city and the royal court.

But in order to save her city from the light, Vesper must face the power most outside of her control—the goddess within.

The Lightstruck on Goodreads

My Review

I really enjoyed THE DARKENING, so I’d been super excited about reading this sequel. To be honest, I struggled with some parts of this story.

It might be simply that I’m in a weird place right now, reading-wise. We just started school again, and the new schedule has really caught up with me this week. It’s always harder to read a book when I’m tired, so some of my lack of connection with this one really could be on me.

I felt like some parts, especially the opening chapters, moved more slowly. It felt like waiting for things to really begin.

Once the story did begin, though, I found a lot of the same elements from THE DARKENING that I’d loved: characters like Cas and Iz, a fascinating magic system based on drawn symbols, and a hero at war with herself, wrestling with her past mistakes and future possibilities.

I enjoyed the interactions between the characters, especially Cas and Vesper. I couldn’t help wishing there was more going on between Vesper and Dalca, though.

One of the things about the book that I thought was really fascinating, though, was the way it explored people’s feelings about those who were “cursed” by the storm and ended up with some kind of physical anomaly. Some were not readily visible, but others were. It was very stigmatized, and I found myself wishing that there was more pushback against that stigma.

Ultimately the story does address that in a way that changes the perception of those physical changes. I thought that was an interesting resolution, something I hadn’t expected but thought was cool.

On the whole, I am still glad I read this one, and I would love to know if I’d have connected to the story more if I’d read it at a different time. If you loved the characters or magic system of the first book in the series, I’d say it’s still worth reading this one.

The Lightstruck on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Characters are described as having brown skin.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Possible attraction between characters, but it’s not deeply explored.

Spiritual Content
Vesper holds a goddess, the Great Queen, inside her. The opposing god, the Great King, is currently unbound and trapping people in his power throughout the city.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Some brief battle sequences and references to torture.

Drug Content
Vesper’s team receives poisoned food, and someone dies from eating it.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of THE LIGHTSTRUCK in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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