By Ava S.

Get your copy of Lightlark from our webstore or at our event on August 27!

Receiving an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Alex Aster’s first YA release, Lightlark, was like the best birthday present and Christmas miracle all rolled into one! When I saw Lightlark would be available for me to get my hands on before the highly anticipated August 23rd release date, I nearly screamed and simultaneously lunged towards what might as well have been front row tickets to an Olivia Rodrigo concert. What book could deserve such a reaction? Well, if you haven’t heard of Alex Aster or Lightlark, I will have to assume you have been living under a rock… and have no social media. The amount of hype leading up to the release of Lightlark is unlike any I have seen before, mainly due to the near 1 million Tik Tok followers Ms. Aster has accrued over the past year since releasing a video describing Lightlark’s plot. In her exact words:

“Would you read a book about…
A cursed island that only appears once every hundred years
To host a game
That gives the 6 rulers of realm a chance to break their curses
Each realm’s curse is deadly and to break them…
One of the 6 rulers must die
To survive
Isla Crown must
Even as love complicates everything?”

Alex Aster

Yeah… no wonder that got 1.8 Million views!

I have enjoyed following Alex Aster’s journey writing Lightlark through her social media updates ever since she posted her first video back in March of 2021. While I was partly worried the year of built up anticipation for this novel would ultimately lead to an inevitable let down… Lightlark somehow managed to surpass my expectations!

Lightlark is a thriller set in a cinematically written fantasy world. The story follows Isla Crown, young ruler of the Wildling realm, a society of temptresses and heart-eaters. But despite their malevolent image, the Wilding realm is falling apart. Now Isla has only one chance to break the curse that has plagued her realm for centuries. That chance is the Centennial: a high-stakes centenary game taking place on the magical island of Lightlark, wherein the great rulers of each of the 6 realms convene for one hundred days in an attempt to fulfill the prophecy and break the curses which torment each of their realms. Even with five centuries having gone by, the prophecy has yet to be fully understood. However, at least one thing is certain; one of the rulers must die, and with them, the rest of their realm. As one of the youngest rulers, Isla certainly has a target on her back.

On the island of Lightlark, Isla must navigate cut-throat court politics, hidden pasts, potential allies, certain enemies, and simultaneously dazzling yet death-defying demonstrations of power from each of the rulers. If that’s not enough to get you to read Lightlark, I don’t know what is. Oh wait… this: love triangle! And unfortunately for Isla, love on Lightlark comes at a great cost. If even forbidden love triangles are not enough to get you to pick up Lightlark, I’ll add that Isla is one of my favorite YA heroines to date. She is strong yet relatable; beautiful yet fierce; naive yet determined. In the best way possible, Isla reminds me of Katniss Everdeen if she won the Hunger Games wearing her ‘Girl on Fire’ dress for the entirety of the games. 

Before I wrap up this review, there is one more aspect of Lightlark I must cover. A few days ago I had the privilege of interviewing Alex Aster. The first question we asked her was “if you could describe Lightlark in one word, what would it be?” She responded with “dazzling”, and I must agree. From the celestial imagery to the unique descriptions for each of the realms, I can only imagine what a daunting task it will be for movie producers to recreate the remarkable world Ms. Aster has created! Either Alex Aster is a genius, or she secretly found a magical way to portal herself to the real world of Lightlark somewhere in space, wrote down everything she saw, then came back to earth and is now trying to publish it as if it’s simply your average fantasy story. It’s not. It’s a thriller set in a magical world, brought to life in all its spine-tingling dark-fairytale glory. 

I really hope I have convinced you to pick up Lightlark (especially since we all know dark fairytales are perfect for the fall aesthetic)! 

Recommended for: Fans of fantasy, love triangles, strong heroines, magical world-building, suspense, thrillers, plot-twists, gray characters, magic, hidden pasts

Rating: 5/5 starsticks!