Of Light and Nightmares

The Ashes of Magic Trilogy, Volume I

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
520 Pages
Reviewed on 06/17/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Proud Canadian Chinese.
Born and raised in Toronto.
Classically trained numerical storyteller (aka accountant).
Secret believer in all things magical.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Of Light and Nightmares is a work of fiction in the urban fantasy, adventure, and action subgenres, and it forms the first novel of The Ashes of Magic Trilogy. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Penned by author Alex B. Harper, in this highly engaging introduction to a vivid and immersive new fantasy series, we find ourselves following protagonist Emmeline, who thinks that she’s about to embark on a philanthropic legacy after losing her parents. As it turns out, her legacy is much more life and death, for Emmeline has a rare gift for spotting future guardians who keep her world safe from another realm filled with vicious demons.

Author Alex B. Harper starts this trilogy off on a fantastic fantasy high, creating a world of high-stakes and ethereal nightmares that I was both intrigued and terrified to step into from the off. I enjoyed the way that destiny was thrown into Emmeline’s lap, developing an interesting anti-hero narrative and an origin story where we see her developing gradually into a hero rather than automatically being one. She faces some tough personal challenges in the darkest, demonic depths of this storyline, and I felt that Harper’s narrative skill and flair for dialogue gave us plenty of emotional impact and the ability to read between the lines rather than being spoon-fed every feeling. This makes Emmeline a very real figure in a beautifully atmospheric and well-described fantasy world, giving readers a deep bond with her from the outset of the novel through to its satisfying conclusion that leaves plenty of room for book two. Overall, I would certainly recommend Of Light and Nightmares for fantasy fans everywhere as a stellar new series to get into.

Miche Arendse

Emmeline Taylor-Wu never expected her world to turn upside down after attending a charity gala but upon meeting two strange women she discovers she is a part of something much bigger. Of Light and Nightmares: The Ashes of Magic Trilogy, Volume I by Alex B. Harper sees the Taylor-Wu siblings become entangled in the world of the nainthe, those who guard against the raizour and ensure they do not cross into our realm. With the help of their new friends, they must ensure the safety of the human world.

Of Light and Nightmares by Alex B. Harper is a brilliant book that felt a bit like a mash-up between Crazy Rich Asians and Shadow Hunters. Harper created such a wonderful and fascinating world with even more captivating characters, from the sassy Anja to the brooding Erik. I couldn’t get enough of them. Harper also has a real talent for setting the scene with just the right amount of description and dialogue while keeping the pace of the story steady. I loved the relationship between Emmia and Mattie. Their trust in one another is something that stands out throughout the novel, and I enjoyed how the two stood together no matter what issues arose. The book also had plenty of action and drama to offer within a well-thought-out plotline that allows you to become thoroughly engrossed. I found myself speeding through this tale and was so sad to reach the end, especially with a cliffhanger ending that has you begging for more.

David Korson

Of Light and Nightmares is a well-crafted urban fantasy by Alex B. Harper that pits true-to-life characters against an unseen evil. Growing up in a privileged family, money has never been a problem for Emmeline and her brother Matthew. Having inherited wealth does nothing to prepare Emmeline for her destiny. When a chance encounter with strangers at a fundraising event leads to supernatural developments, Emmeline and Matthew are caught up in otherworldly matters that transcend any good they could accomplish with their philanthropy. Emmeline learns that she has a rare gift she must develop to protect the planet from hostile creatures bent on destruction. Fortunately, some experienced and knowledgeable advisors are there to guide her on her journey.

While not a new concept, the notion of a magical realm connected to our world inevitably stokes the imagination and engages readers. Alex B. Harper has taken this familiar theme and made it truly unique. A diverse cast is brought alive through distinct personalities that often clash with one another and with set roles that include seekers and guardians who must work together to protect our world from horrific creatures called raizours. Besides the endearing camaraderie between the siblings, Emmeline and Matthew, I love that the characters have real-world vulnerabilities balancing out their strengths. Of Light and Nightmares is a fantastic character-driven fantasy that will leave you clamoring for the next installment in The Ashes of Magic Trilogy.

Paul Zietsman

In Of Light and Nightmares by Alex B. Harper, Emmeline and her brother Matthew, heirs to their late parents' fortune, become entangled in a thrilling fantasy world of danger, otherworldly creatures, and magic. After being approached by two striking women at a charity event, they learn that Emmeline is a seeker, one of only two who can find new nainthe, the beings that protect Earth and its inhabitants from the hellish, otherworldly creatures bent on annihilating the human race. New friendships are formed, new alliances are forged, and in this chaotic and frighteningly dangerous new world, Emmeline and Matthew must distinguish between who they can trust and rely on and who they cannot.

From the first page, and even before any fantasy elements are introduced, there is an air of magic about Of Light and Nightmares, owing to Alex B. Harper's ingenious choice of words. To say the characters are well-defined would be an understatement, and I found myself especially drawn to the protagonist, Emmeline. As the narrative progresses, she often engages in introspection and self-talk and develops into a stronger and more resilient version of herself. Other characters, like Matthew and the various nainthe that are introduced, vary from endearing to frightening, which makes for thrilling clashes between characters who often engage in heated dialogue. Of Light and Nightmares is an ultra-exciting read that whisked me away on a captivating, magical journey and propelled me toward its dramatic and surprising climax.