“A Turn of Light” by Julie Czerneda is a fabulous fantasy tale that is an unusual coming of age story that follows Jenn Nalynn as she approaches her pivotal nineteenth birthday. The very insulated population of the valley of Marrowdell has a limited scope for someone who yearns to see the wide world yet is unaware what a singular existence she has in a place where grain protects and harvests itself, an ethereal companion who has watched her mature and a fountain that remains forever pure. Unbeknownst to Jenn, the conundrum is, if she goes out to explore the world, will there be a world to explore? The arrival of enigmatic newcomer, Bannan Larmensu, who sees much more than the ordinary observer, may provide more complications than solutions, particularly since he brings a companion known as Scourge. Marrowdell undoubtedly will never be the same, no matter what happens.
I have always been impressed by the science fiction titles I have read by this author because I am fascinated by her world-building. It takes a lot of talent to create an entirely believable world filled with interesting beings who are fascinating despite their obvious ‘otherness’. I am ecstatic to discover that there was no loss of that ability when the world portrayed in this wonderful tale was created. The dexterity in populating the very unusual village of Marrowdell with exquisitely layered individuals and the gradual unfolding of their layers showcase what I love best about this author, her ability to suck one in and then turn preconceptions on their sides.
There are a wealth of beings who vacillate between being powerless and pivotal at various times interspersed with great hidden gems of sly humor and almost groan-worthy puns (e.g. will o’ the wisp) that keep one mesmerized by the unfolding tales The combination of positive and negative aspects that each entity is composed of gives a reality to the tale yet the fantastical world(s) they occupy stretch the imagination and lead to bemused speculation. There are so many side elements that I would love to explore and I am delighted to discover that there is a least one other tale already being woven. Be forewarned, this is not a quick beach read, but rather one that should be savored with the expectation of revisiting favorite sections, and plan your time accordingly as you prepare to be drawn under Ms. Czerneda’s spell and only reluctantly escape back into the real world.
The village of Marrowdell is an isolated pioneer community, but it is also the place where two worlds overlap, and at the turn of light--sunset--the world of magic known as the Verge can briefly be seen.
Jenn Nalynn belongs to both Verge and Marrowdell, but even she doesn't know how special she is--or that her invisible friend Wisp is actually a dragon sent to guard her... and keep her from leaving the valley. But Jenn longs to see the world, and thinking that a husband will help her reach this goal, she decides to create one using spells. Of course, everything goes awry, and suddenly her "invisible friend" has been transformed into a man. But he is not the only newcomer to Marrowdell, and far from the most dangerous of those who are suddenly finding their way to the valley...