Promising Light

1 star1 star1 star0.75 star
When Dar suddenly leaves Grace, breaking off their secret relationship, she searches for answers, reluctant to let him go. Then she’s kidnapped by Dar’s family, who are shape changers who claim she can break a curse set on their family. If the curse endures, Dar’s family could die out forever. But to help them, she’ll have to leave behind everything she knows. More

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Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Published: Jan. 16, 2012
Words: 133,200
Language: English
ISBN: 9781466057647
About Emily Ann Ward

Hey, I'm Emily! I've been writing since I was young. I wrote mostly fiction, but I've posted some nonfiction here, as well. I love it, it's so fun.

I grew up in Colorado, in Littleton, Loveland, and Fort Collins. I've moved around a lot, though, I can't stay too long in one place. I've traveled to South Africa, Zambia, the Marshall Islands, France, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. My husband and I do a lot of traveling, and we plan to revisit Europe in the future.

We live in Salem, Oregon right now with our two cats. I read, write, cook, try to make money from home. My chicken enchiladas are awesome.

Hope you enjoy the writing!

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Reviews

Review by: J.S. Clark on July 02, 2013 : star star star
The premise hooked me. Shape shifters create a lot of interesting story-lines that haven't been done to death yet. And in that respect, the story does not disappoint. Complications build, as history is unveiled in managable layers, that give background and growing motivation even to the villains.

I'm not a huge romance fan, so I was a bit out of my element, but I was not particularly engaged by the romance at first. It seemed too much like shallow infatuation, but as the story developed the romance aspect did grow on me as the Dar and more-so Grace seemed to focus more on the larger issue than their relationship. Which really makes sense, because real love is measured by its context. "Falling in love" has nothing on loving someone with your whole life in the nitty-gritty.

Also, I did feel some of the characters, especially Dar, weren't completely fleshed out. His character makes sense given the curse, but I thought the despair that could have made sense of his passivity wasn't really brought out.

As for pace, the situations seemed to cover old ground without enough consequence leading to a flat feeling. Someone gets hurt but it happens to often and recovery is too easy so it feels kind of mundane which in turn made it feel like there wasn't too much progress/obstacles overcome toward the resolution.

But, overall, the things that I felt could have been better, are balanced by the points I liked. There is enough there for me to intend to read the sequels, because especially by the end, I was invested enough to want to know what happens to the main characters after the events set forth.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: pamela chismar on May 05, 2013 : star star star star
I received Promising Light through the Librarything Member Giveaway Program, in exchange for an honest review.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The characters were well formed, interesting, and likable. The storyline kept me intrigued. The writing style was decent, although my copy had many errors. (such as, "Dar grabbed his face in her hands and then kissed her." Just took me out of the story for a second while my mind had to reverse the pronouns)
The love story between Dar and Grace is sweet. I found myself rooting for them all the way through. There was plenty of adventure and magic. For me magic is always a plus. I thought that all the characters had personality, and had me hoping that things worked out for all of them.
I can not wait to read book two in this series. I need to know where Grace, Dar, Sierra, Evan and even William go from here.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Tracey on Oct. 06, 2012 : star star
I tried – I really did. I tried not long after I first got the book, and the writing fought me, and I set it aside. Shame drove me to try again because this was a LibraryThing Member Giveaway book. I was determined to read it.

But the writing still fought the effort. Phrasing was awkward; there was no infodumping, I'll give the writer that, but there was also little effort to give me any threads of story to weave into a rope to hang onto; the names grated on me, mostly Earth-ish (Grace and Pearl and Peter and William and so on) but not all (Dar and Silva and Shyra and Phoresa and such– and then there was Rebekah, which with its more Jewish style was just odd in this context.) I made it a couple more chapters, but still had no real idea of setting or background or who anyone was supposed to be (or why I was supposed to care) when I hit the final wall: the main character got "a bit sweaty" before lunch and hoped she would have a chance to visit the "powder room".

The powder room?

From wisegeek.com: "The term powder room dates back to the early 18th century, when it was used to refer to a closet-sized room where people went to have their wigs repowdered." Currently a euphemism for a public women's room. Or, of course, the place where gunpowder and shot is stored. And, unless this fantasy world is closer to our own in some period later than 1800, ridiculous in this context.

Sorry. Can't do it.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: mirrani on May 31, 2012 : star star star star
Promising Light was a book that I simply could not put down, not because it was overly suspenseful or dramatic, but because everything seemed so real that I was honestly curious as to how it would all end. There are two major elements that are true through the story, one being a love triangle, the other being a combination of magic, adventure and politics, the whole of which makes for some very good storytelling.

The characters were honest, living beings with emotion and life to them. I found that reading the pages their feelings were touching me in a way that I could understand, especially in regard to finding out that the man you have fallen in love with is going to call it off with you because he's "no good" for you. What do you do? Well, when someone else makes advances, you go to them, begin a possible relationship, but still that previous love lingers. What becomes interesting is when the three people begin to find themselves entangled within the plot together.

The politics of throwing down punishment on someone because of something they can do is also touched on. One group will use a person for their best interests, another will come and do the same. This isn't ground in to you as if being pounded in by a stone, this is dealt with by simple discussion, interaction and personal exchange. I was quite surprised when I realized just how much of the structure of expectations I had understood and how I had taken it away as the concept of being political, though it never felt that it felt that title at all.

Overall, if you take an adventure, blend it with a magical curse, and sprinkle it with just a hint of love potion, you'll have one book that you will honestly enjoy.

Note: Though this book was a free gift from the author, the content of my review was in no way influenced by the gifting. The book speaks for itself and my review would have been worded just this way even if I'd gone out and bought it. I also give bonus points for Text To Speech enabling on Kindle format.... but that also wasn't a factor in the above review.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: llyramoon on March 28, 2012 : star star star star
I really enjoyed this book! The beginning was a bit slow, but once you started reading more about the world the author was creating it got more interesting and then the action kicked in and the story picked up from there. The characters were well built and I'm assuming the next book will delve more into the secondary characters and such. I felt this book had that of a love story, adventure story all in a fantastic world with magic and such. If you enjoy these types of books, you should enjoy this story.

FYI: I did run into some typos, a few of which did make me confused while reading, so I hope if this is not in print version yet an editor can go through this book and fix these errors.

(Received this book via Library Thing Member Giveaway)
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: llyramoon on March 28, 2012 : star star star star
I really enjoyed this book! The beginning was a bit slow, but once you started reading more about the world the author was creating it got more interesting and then the action kicked in and the story picked up from there. The characters were well built and I'm assuming the next book will delve more into the secondary characters and such. I felt this book had that of a love story, adventure story all in a fantastic world with magic and such. If you enjoy these types of books, you should enjoy this story.

FYI: I did run into some typos, a few of which did make me confused while reading, so I hope if this is not in print version yet an editor can go through this book and fix these errors.

(Received this book via LibraryThing.com Member Giveaway)
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: K Gonzalez on March 08, 2012 : star star star star star
Ward's characters breathe. A gifted writer with an awesome sense of atmosphere, place, time, and social class this book is perseptive and compelling. The characters are solid. As you enter the world woven by Ward of shapeshifters, forbidden love, and relationships you will want to keep reading until you are done. Hopefully another book is in the works. I would recommend this book to all fantasy readers as well as those who enjoy a beautifully written novel with well-developed characters.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Ruth Albarran on Feb. 20, 2012 : star star star star star
I received this book as an early review from the author, when I asked for it the description of the book caught my attention and I'm so happy I got the opportunity to received this book for review. The story was amazing, action packed and had a beautiful setting that gets your imagination going. It has a little bit of everything, action, romance, suspense... Anyways I started reading it and I was immerse, I couldn't stop reading until the end. Now I have this feeling of emptiness of wanting to know more, what's coming next for the characters and how everything will played out after this adventure. I just hope the second book is not to far out. Again this was an amazing read, entertaining from beginning to end, never a bored moment or a time where the story did not make sense, to say more will make me spoil and give away pieces of the story which is worth to read. Again great job with this one, I will mark this as one of my favorites/promising new series to read. Looking forward to the next one already!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Colleen Perry on Feb. 18, 2012 : (no rating)
I truly enjoyed this book. The story line was unique and I was interested in the story from beginning to end. However, the ending left me yelling at the heroine not to do it! Here's hoping the sequel will be out soon. Read the book, you will not be sorry you did.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Lauren on Feb. 18, 2012 : star star star
I received Promising Light (digital copy) as an early review copy from the author. The main protagonist is Grace, daughter of one of the king's generals, who has always led a pampered, albeit sheltered, life. At the opening of the story, we learn that Grace is involved in a secret relationship with Dar, a young noble from a family that Grace's father disapproves of, although she doesn't know why. 

[Minor spoilers below]

Very early into the story, Grace is warned by a mysterious stranger that she needs to end her relationship with Dar, because it is "dangerous." Grace is confused, but Dar seems to understand the stranger's warning, and breaks off their relationship.

What seems like an extremely short time later, Grace begins a courtship with the prince, who seems nice enough. He asks her to accompany him on one of his upcoming trips. She accepts, but while on the road, Grace is kidnapped and thrust into a magical world she never knew existed. She learns about the history of Dar's family and why the stranger warned her to end the relationship. Soon she has to make a choice: her love for Dar or her loyalty to her father and the prince. 

The story is mostly told from Grace's point of view, but it occasionally shifts its perspective between Dar and his cousin's wife, Sierra.

The premise of Promising Light is interesting. It has all the elements of a great story: romance, action, suspense, political intrigue, layered backstory, magic, an assortment of potentially likable or despicable characters. I kept reading because I was curious to see how the author would tie all the various strings together, and if the story would be brought to a satisfying conclusion. Ultimately, I felt the story resolved decently, although I would have appreciated a couple more chapters regarding the fallout of Grace's ultimate decision.

The problem I had with Promising Light was in the execution. Ms. Ward is a talented writer, but throughout much of the book, I felt like I was reading decent fanfiction, not a standalone novel. She often resorts to using Grace's inner monologue to ask questions she should be leading the readers to through the events in the story. Grace's incessant internal questioning quickly seemed to be an unnecessary gimmick designed to force readers down a certain path of thought instead of letting them find their own way there naturally.

Additionally, although many of the characters had the potential to be extremely likable, none of them really felt fully developed. Even Grace and Dar, whose relationship is the catalyst for most of the events in the book, didn't seem fully fleshed out. I never really understood how they were so motivated by their love, when neither of them even seemed all that sure they were really in love to begin with. They definitely enjoyed kissing each other, but Grace asks herself numerous times what her true feelings are for Dar, and he questions his feelings for her. Yet by the end of the book, we are suddenly to understand that they have a deep and true love, even though nothing seemed to really happen to propel their relationship forward.

Evan, Sierra and Matilda also had potential to be interesting, but since their mysterious history together is never fully explained, I didn't feel very connected to them either.

The numerous magical families were intriguing, but after a while, some of the magic started seeming a little too deus ex machina, especially when Matilda started to make people selectively invisible by "muttering a few words in the Cosa language." I am a huge fan of magic in stories, but the magic needs to have some sort of rules to govern it. The magic of the families in Promising Light had very few restrictions, and mostly all their difficulties were solved by finding a member of the magical family that has the particular power they're looking for - and these families conveniently never live more than a couple days away on horseback.

The shifting in POV was also mildly disconcerting. Sometimes the story would be told from Grace's POV for chapters at a time; other times it would shift around between Grace, Dar and Sierra for just a couple paragraphs. While sometimes the shifts were necessary to the narrative, at others there didn't seem to be much rhyme or reason behind the shifts. It actually felt like the author had forgotten whose POV she had started out in and switched to another character accidentally.

One comment more about the editing than the writing itself: the copy of the book I read contained numerous typos, to the point of distraction. Most of them were verb tense and pronoun errors.

Ultimately, Promising Light was a nice story with a lot of fun elements, that could have been great with some more character development and depth, and more believable world-building. If I was allowed to give a 2.5 star rating, that's what it would be, but I decided to round up.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Karen on Jan. 28, 2012 : star star star star
Emily Ward, author of Promising Light, sent me a copy of this novel and asked for an honest review, which is very easy to do when you really enjoy the book. Honestly, this young lady has done a fantastic job of telling the tale of a group of unique characters on a journey to save their way of life. There are no vampires or zombies, but you will find shape shifters, mind readers and a few other strange folk wandering the realms. With a little romance, a few battles, a few mishaps and a mysterious riddle the group of companions tries to complete a quest to rid a bloodline of a decade old curse and, ultimately, change the course of the future.


The world they live is not unlike our own, and the characters are well developed with a little humour (and sarcasm) thrown in here and there. Starting in a vineyard in an affluent neighbourhood the story flows to castles, villages, run down cottages and underground tunnels, taking the reader on a colourful journey with many twists and turns. As I read I was reminded, here and there, of the antics a similar set of companions in a well known series by R.A. Salvatore. No they are not the same, but maybe younger versions with different skills, dreams and adventures.

I found only a few minor typos here and there but they were very minor, really not enough to detract from the flow of the story. There is only one drawback that I found with this novel, well four actually. That would be the three prequels (Shifting Light, Fire and Light, and The End of Light) and the upcoming sequel (untitled), which means my to-be-read list just grew by another four books. Like my library isn’t big enough already.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

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