Adrienne Martini Reviews Illuminations by T. Kingfisher

Illuminations, T. Kingfisher (Red Wombat Studio, $4.99, 248pp, eb) November 2022.

Illuminations, the latest middle-grade book by T. Kingfisher (AKA Ursula Vernon), opens on a very, very bored Rosa Mandolini. Fortu­nately, the Studio Mandolini, her family’s art/magic business, is full of storage rooms, stuffed to the brim with boxes of interesting, ancient wonders. One such box resists being found and opened. And thus begins Rosa’s adventure.

As you’d expect from Vernon, Rosa’s world is a quirky and whimsical one. Here, paintings can be imbued with magic to handle tasks small – like keeping the kitchen trash from stinking – to large – like providing the town with clean drinking water. Rosa’s curiosity could lead to that magic failing. With the help of a talking crow, she discovers how her own peculiar gifts work and why working together is important.

Also as you’d expect from Vernon, this seem­ingly slight story is much heftier than it first appears, once you start to unpack what she has to say about the importance of small things and how they can make a huge difference.

Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.

This review and more like it in the February 2023 issue of Locus.

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