Review: ‘The Illumination Query’ by Sarah Baethge

‘The Illumination Query’ (The Speed of Darkness #1) by Sarah Baethge is an interesting read with some unusual ideas; a mash-up of Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror, with a relatively solid storyline and some good characters / characterisation. Given its ‘#1’ hashtag, there is obviously more to come, and I would be happy to read those, too.

However, where this first installment – in what Baethge is saying may be a 5 or 6 book series – fell down for me was in clarity and coherence. There were formatting issues with the digital copy I was sent, which I can easily overlook, but there were several sections that I was hard pressed to keep focused, slightly unsure as to what was happening and to whom. During the first half of the book, we follow one character and then the second half of the book is from a different character’s viewpoint; the first half was much stronger than the second, too. The story would perhaps have worked better and had improved balance / structure if the two viewpoints had been spliced together more evenly.

Basically, I thought the premise was quite clever (4*) but the execution was somewhat lacking (1-2*); ‘The Illumination Query’ needs finessing and a decent, bold copy edit.

Final rating: 3*

The Illumination Query


A surreal romp about a dissatisfied zookeeper’s endeavor to contemplate his toxic new allies as they create an terrible situation for his unintended enemy to grapple with.

What makes someone a monster?

The zookeeper Ronald Carpenter needs help recovering his escaped charges and is grateful when the secretive Eclipse company steps in to help. Little does Ronald know just how nefarious a company they really are and why they have such expertise in taking unwilling subjects captive. Can their offer of a higher salary make him leave a job he loves and help them do what he feels is just wrong?

Nigel Hunter’s experiment in an Eclipse lab looks like it could enable incredible movement powers. Intrigued with the prospect, he voluntarily gets the company’s help to try the procedure upon himself. The Eclipse now decide to take him prisoner with their other test subjects so that they can test the unbelievable speed it has given him more fully.

When the Eclipse pits Ronald and Nigel against one another in this way, can either one of them manage to get away?

Buy now from Wordery

I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


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