by Cassia Hall
There was something I found incredibly healing about reading this story.
Thank you to Reedsy Discovery for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I tend to start off my review by explaining my motivation behind picking up a book. I think it’s a great way for someone reading my reviews to understand my mindset, and reasoning behind my reading choices. It also sets the tone of my possible expectations going into a story. This novel sold me first on the cover, and secondly on the summary with the phrase, “sand kittens”. This story promised romance, and cute animals. I was ready to be swept away.
Summer Lights is book 2, in what I later found out was a prequel, novella-esque series. I did get a chance to read the first book in this series, which I’ll be discussing more in depth on my personal review blog. Depending on the author, I either thoroughly enjoy being dropped into a world I know nothing about, or I will become increasingly frustrated trying to understand who is who and what means what. This was a story that carried me away, and I was afforded an opportunity to just relax and enjoy these new characters and their peculiar magical qualities.
This series is set in a magical world, and while the magic system isn’t explained outright in this novel (perhaps it is in the main series), the author did include a bit of a glossary of terms which helped tremendously. This story also had a foundation rooted in fated lovers, with at least one or more of the pairs being LGBTQ+.
I really enjoyed seeing the characters slowly piece together who these new visitors were, and what they meant to each other. The way they had shown up in dreams before appearing in person made my own heart skip a few beats. While the romance isn’t always intense, and was never explicit on the page, it was easy to be swept away in the excitement of new love.
In this second novel the sense of something coming to a head doubles when three new visitors arrive unexpectedly. The wild children take to the desert nomad immediately because she reminds them of someone back home, and because of her care for the sand kittens. However the other two visitors are forcibly kept away from the children at all costs. These men begin filling in holes for the reader as to why the children are there, and who their fathers might be. While we watch these characters orbit around each other, we also witness new magical powers growing in one of the children. My favorite scene is when we are introduced to creatures in the woods; creatures that I had previously blown off as imaginative fairytales told to the children to keep them in line. This story opened up so many new characters and avenues for the next novels, and really made me curious about what might already exist in the main series.
There was something I found incredibly healing about reading this story. While the characters are the driving forces behind the plot, nature, flowers, bugs, animals, songs, and music played just as big of a role in setting the overall atmosphere.
The world building and the language used in this novel did take a minute to adjust to, but once I settled in it felt like this is how all novels had always been written. I could see this aspect turning readers away initially, but I do encourage you to stick with it. I’m very curious about this main series, and which of these characters have a larger role. I listened to a few of the songs that were composed for this story on the YouTube channel that was linked in the novel, and that more than anything else helped ground me into this story. I was very impressed with the author’s personal touches, and dedication to the art of building this world so intentionally.