When it comes to the world of Valdemar, I often enter it like going out to dinner with an old friend. In this case, it’s a banquet, and while I expect a variety of dishes at such a spread, I was hoping for more of a variety of flavors. We live in rough times, a lot of us are making do with less and making that less stretch further. I read for escapism, for that moment when chosen and Companion lock eyes and suddenly realize they’re not alone in the world, that they are special, meant to be. That moment wasn’t depicted in any of the stories, and most of the stories felt as if they were pulled from the lives of ordinary Valedmar, and that Valdemar is too much like the world in which most of us live, a place where people have to do too much with not enough.

I guess I should have taken my clue from the title, but I’d hoped that anything would be more magical and that nothing not quite as bleak. I enjoyed this visit to Valdemar, just wished it didn’t feel so cold and that the candles would perhaps burn a little brighter.

Release Date: November 28, 2023 | Received From NetGalley | 4 stars