Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Illuminations by T Kingfisher
Narrator: Raquel Beattie
Published by Tantor Audio on August 15, 2023
Genres: Science Fiction Fantasy
Length: 8 hours, 3 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Rosa Mandolini knows in her heart that her family are the greatest painters of magical illuminations in the city. But the eccentric Studio Mandolini has fallen on hard times and the future is no longer certain.
While trying to help her family, Rosa discovers a strange magical box protected by a painted crow. But when she finds a way to open the box, she accidentally releases the Scarling, a vicious monster determined to destroy the Mandolini family at any cost.
With the aid of her former best friend and a painted crow named Payne, it’s up to Rosa to stop the Scarling before it unmakes the magical paintings that keep the city running, and hopefully save her family in the process!
Illuminations is a cute story. I enjoy T. Kingfisher and this is one of those books that were supposed to satisfy her middle grade or kids book publishing but just was too adult for that and so it is published under her adult moniker. I guess this also happened with A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, which I also found delightful. I read the book awhile ago but was so excited to listen to the audio that was just released as T. Kingfisher books are so much fun and I wanted to see if a narrator could add to an already great story
Rosa comes from a family of artists. But these are not just any artists they have magic and paint things that are useful to society. Like wards to keep pots from breaking, fire from catching, garbage from stinking. I loved imagining a city where there was all this extra art to help keep things running in order. I enjoyed how each artist in Rosa’s family was so different and each had their own way of making art.
Aunt Nadia often got a little weird when she was working on a painting, as if most of her brain was involved with art, and the bits that controlled talking were wandering around unsupervised.
Cousin Sergio, who believed that the painting was brilliant up until the moment it was finished, when he suddenly discovered that it was terrible and they had to stop him from setting the canvas on fire.
Rosa is still young around ten and she wants to help her family any way she can. She is currently in a fight with her bet friend Serena, from a rival Illuminations house, so she has plenty of time to try and find a way to help her family. When she happens upon a mysterious box hidden away in the house is intrigued. Especially since it seems that something on the box makes you forget all about it. Well Rosa is determined that whatever is in that box could help her family and be the thing that make then the best artist family in the city again. Oh how wrong she was.
“He made an evil monster that’s out to ruin us! Does it really matter how good his technique was?”
“Of course it matters,” said Aunt Nadia with a half-smile. “You’d hate to see the studio destroyed by a mediocre artist, wouldn’t you?”
With the help of a crow sometimes distracted by shiny objects, her best friend/sometimes nemesis and the rest of her family Rosa will have to find a way to capture the unusual monster she accidentally let lose before it sucks all the magic out of the paintings in the city.
Totally cute story and I loved hanging out with Rosa and learning that even kids can do amazing things when they don’t know they aren’t supposed to. I also will never look at a radish quite the same again.
Raquel Beattie is a new to me narrator. She captured the fun of this story well in her narration with the exasperation of Rosa and all the big feelings she was having. I really enjoyed how well she conveyed being a little girl with a big problem just trying to help out all the people she loves. All the voices of the characters were distinct and easily identifiable. I was able to listen at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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