A huge thanks to Head of Zeus publishing and Sally Gardner for a copy of this unique and wonderful book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
From I, Coriander to Invisible in a Bright Light, Sally Gardner’s first middle grade novel in 14 years soars with the imagination of a master story-teller. A pitch-perfect story about a crystal chandelier that splinters into a thousand pieces, a girl abandoned as a baby on the steps of an opera house and a dangerous game called the Reckoning.
It is 1870: opening night at the Royal Opera House in a freezing city by the sea, where a huge, crystal chandelier in the shape of a galleon sparkles magically with the light of 750 candles.
Celeste, a theatre rat, wakes up in a costume basket from what she hopes is a bad dream, to find that everyone at the theatre where she works thinks she is someone else.
When the chandelier falls, she is haunted by a strange girl who claims to know Celeste’s past and why she must risk playing a game called the Reckoning to try to save the people she loves.
Invisible in a Bright Light is an enchanting and exquisite story where reality and fantasy become so blurred it’s hard to see which is which.
Waking from a strange dream Celeste the theatre rat (the lowest worker) is left feeling surreal and unsure of everything. Some of her memories are distorted and people seem to think she is someone else. She has foggy memories of a different kind of life where her surroundings feel familiar but she cannot put her finger on why. What’s more! A strange dream occurs in which Celeste is playing a game. It’s a game of life and death but how can she play when her memories are hazy and she has no idea what the game is?
The setting of this novel is so stunningly immersive. The opera house is intricately described I was completely lost in Celeste’s world for a while. Other settings are as equally detailed and provide stunning backdrops to this story.
The plot itself is a carefully woven story of mystery and intrigue and it’s difficult not to give anything away. After the crashing of the chandelier more clues to her identity are revealed and Celeste begins to piece together the mystery. The pace is just perfect and the as a reader I couldn’t stop reading until I had answers for everything. Detailed and full of surprises, the plot may be a little too overwhelming and abstract for children in the lower age bracket of middle grade but advanced readers and older children (and adults of course) will be captivated by Celeste’s story.
Author Bio – Sally Gardner
Sally Gardner grew up and still lives in London. Being dyslexic, she did not learn to read or write until she was fourteen and had been thrown out of several schools, labeled unteachable, and sent to a school for maladjusted children. Despite this, she gained a degree with highest honors at a leading London art college, followed by a scholarship to a theater school, and then went on to become a very successful costume designer, working on some notable productions.
After the births of twin daughters and a son, she started first to illustrate and then to write picture books and chapter books, usually with fairytale- or otherwise magical subject matter. She has been called ‘an idiosyncratic genius’ by London’s Sunday Times.