Sanem Ozdural's The Dark Shall Do What Light Cannot was published by Elsewhen Press as e-book in April 2015. The paperback edition will be published in July 2015.
Information about Sanem Ozdural:
Sanem Ozdural was born in Ankara, Turkey in the 70s, and spent her childhood from age seven onwards in England. Happy days at a quintessentially British boarding school in Surrey helped forge her character and tastes, not to mention lasting friendships. Making her way to the U.S. she studied economics at Princeton University. After graduating from Boston University School of Law, she moved to New Orleans where she practiced as a prosecutor and civil litigator, and spent seven wonderful years living in the French Quarter.
In 2004 she migrated from New Orleans via Washington, D.C., reaching New York City in 2006, where she lived and practiced law until 2013. She is now teaching business law at Koç University in Istanbul. Sanem was an avid bridge player until the tenth round of revisions to her debut novel. She is now thoroughly enjoying an indefinite bridge sabbatical, and imagining all sorts of stories that feature absolutely no bridge or chess.
Information about The Dark Shall Do What Light Cannot:
We live in a world of Light and Dark, Day and Night, Good and Evil. How do we deal with evil? Despite its power and resources, the state with all its laws and police is neither omnipotent nor omnipresent. It is not always enough.
There is a place called Pera which lies beyond the Light Veil, on the other side of reality. There are light trees there that eat sunlight and bear fruit that, in turn, lights up and energises (literally) the community of Pera. There are light birds that glitter in the night because they have eaten the seed of the lightberry. The House of Light and Dark, which is the domain of the Sun and her brother, Twilight, welcomes all creatures living in Pera. But in the midst of all the glitter, laughter and the songs, it must be remembered that the lightberry is poisonous to the non-Pera born, and the Land is afraid when the Sun retreats, for it is then that Twilight walks the streets...
In Pera, as in our world, there is deceit and cruelty. There are people who would harm defenceless children, and those who would jeopardise the health and wealth of their communities for personal gain. What happens, though, when the Sun is not able to shine her light into the repulsive crevices of humanity? When, with all the goodwill in the world, we cannot keep the children safe, or the forests intact. What happens when the rivers are polluted irreversibly, and we can hear the land groan: barren and toxic? And the people have lost their savings, their homes and their communities...
Then, the Dark shall do what Light cannot.
With some of the characters that we originally met in LiGa™, Sanem Ozdural's first novel, the Dark shall do what Light cannot transports us from New York to the colourful and wonderful world of Pera. On the way we meet the pirate Patron and her ship the Flying Fish, the only one that can sail through the Light Veil; Orion (Imm.), the Hunter, respected by some and feared by others; and Shadow, the formidable soul of Pera.
A REVIEW OF SANEM OZDURAL'S THE DARK SHALL DO WHAT LIGHT CANNOT
The Dark Shall Do What Light Cannot is a sequel to LiGa™, which was Sanem Ozdural's debut novel, but it can be read as a standalone novel. LiGa™ was an interesting reading experience for me, because the author did something that I didn't expect to be possible (she made bridge look sexy and fashionable by transforming it into science fiction format in which the players gambled with portions of their lives) and now she amazed me again with an exceptionally good science-fantasy story that differs a lot from her debut novel.
As much as I enjoyed reading LiGa™ and was thrilled by it being a totally different kind of a science fiction novel, I have to admit that The Dark Shall Do What Light Cannot outshines LiGa™ in every possible way. In this novel, Sanem Ozdural truly gets an opportunity to demonstrate her writing skills and storytelling abilities, because she transports her readers into a fascinating world of light and darkness. She weaves a web of magic with a good dash of originality around her readers.
I personally enjoyed The Dark Shall Do What Light Cannot very much. It was a novel worth reading, because it felt fresh and exciting. It may not be to everyone's liking due to its mysterious and paranormal contents, but it's definitely worth reading and it will appeal to those readers who are willing to read something a bit different that isn't cut from an all too familiar cookie cutter mold.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- The story has been divided into two parts: 1) To Pera and 2) In Pera. The first part tells how new people arrive in Pera and the second part tells what happens when they've arrived in Pera.
- The story begins in Pera where Shady, who is one of the immortals, awaits his friend, Carl, to arrive for blind policeman duty. Shady and Carl share a LiGa Bond and have survived the LiGa Bridge tournament and attained the coveted prize, which is immortality. When Shady begins his patrol duty, he is worried about Carl, because immortals have been killed. During his patrol he sees how a White Islander is attacked. Soon he finds out that Carl has been killed. Carl seems to have written down coordinates on a paper...
- Shady visits the Shadow in an underground hall and is told by the Shadow that a chosen ship will soon bring the respected and feared Orion, the Hunter, to Pera. Orion is the chief of security at LiGa and a telempath who can read thoughts and feel emotions of those around him...
- On the White Islands, a young girl is prepared for the Cypress Ritual to be sacrificed. The girl's brother tries to help her...
- The Patron of the pirate ship Flying Fish transports immortals to Pera. The Flying Fish is the only ship that can pass through the Light Veil that hides Pera. This chosen ship is the only link between the two worlds...
This is all that I'll write about the story, because it wouldn't be fair to reveal more about the happenings. The author has written so detailed a story about good and evil that the less you know about it the more you'll enjoy it, because finding out new things is an important part of the reading experience. This is a story that must be experienced personally.
It's great that Sanem Ozdural takes her time to introduce the characters and the world of Pera with its different areas and traditions to her readers and doesn't rush with the story. She smoothly combines different elements and gradually deepens the story by revealing more wonders and terrors about the world of Pera and delivers an excellent story. She skillfully keeps all the threads in her hands and brings them together in a splendid way. I was impressed by her effortless way of combining different threads and elements (all of the different threads and elements are in good balance).
The characterisation works well and each of the important characters is interesting and it's enjoyable to read what happens to different characters and what they do. For example, the author writes well about Shady, Father Griffith and the Patron and their lives by paying attention to their feelings and characteristics. Character interaction also works well and the dialogues are believable.
Reading about the Shadow was fascinating, because the Shadow is an especially fascinating being. It's the soul of Pera and has an enormous body of a crocodile. To be honest, the Shadow is one of the most enthralling beings ever created in modern speculative fiction novels.
Sanem Ozdural infuses her story with intriguing mythic, paranormal and religious elements that blend seamlessly into one another. Writing this kind of fiction has its own dangers, disadvantages and pitfalls, but fortunately the author has managed to avoid them and hasn't let the story become too heavy.
This novel features impressive worldbuilding, because Pera is a detailed, fascinating and also terrifying place in its beautiful strangeness. Pera is different from our world, but there are similarities between Pera and our world. Just like in our world, there's cruelty and darkness in Pera and bad things can happen to children and good people.
Because I've been fond of botany and gardening for a long time, I enjoyed reading about he light trees that grew in Pera. They absorbed light and produced lightberries that were dangerous and lethal to the non Pera-born. The lighberries illuminated Pera and the flesh of the berry was used as fuel, and there were different light tree varieties that produced different kind of light.
The author's vision of pirates differs in interesting ways from what people normally think of pirates and what they do. In Pera, pirates pay taxes and pirates give merchants receipts stamped with their insignias so that merchants can prove that they're honest people. It's nice that the author has brought freshness to this theme and has decided to write about pirates in a slightly different way.
One of the most entertaining things about this novel is that the author writes about the voyage on the pirate ship Flying Fish in a fluent way. It was intriguing for me to read about the people aboard the ship and what they thought about the happenings as they learned new things and arrived in Pera.
I also want to mention that what makes this novel stand out is its complexity and philosophical elements. It was nice that the author didn't underestimate her readers, but assumed that they're capable of following a slightly more complex and different kind of a story with philosophical elements (this novel requires a bit more attention from readers than many other novels).
The differences between the White Islanders and other people are interesting, because the White Islanders have their own traditions that others don't approve of. The author explored these differences in a good and thought-provoking way.
Sanem Ozdural writes fluently about what it means to be immortal and what kind of changes a person experiences during the process of becoming immortal after the LiGa Bridge tournament. It was interesting to read about the different persons and their thoughts about this matter, because being immortal changed a person.
The excerpts from the Book of Shadow are wonderfully creative, poetic and mythic, because the Book of Shadow is a collection of stories, songs, poems and sayings etc. For example, The Evening Song that is sung by boys before the night falls is an excellent indicator of the author's creativity and ability to incorporate mythic elements to her story (all of the Singers are boys and there are Seven Singers for each of Pera's seven branches, forty-nine children in total).
It's interesting that Sanem Ozdural has had courage to write about what kind of cruelty is inflicted upon children in the name of custom and religion, because it adds harsh realism to the story. She writes convincingly about the White Islanders' beliefs, customs and traditions.
The different rituals and ceremonies - the Silent Dark ceremony, the River Ritual and the Cypress Ritual - are captivating. The author describes well what kind of beliefs are associated with them and how people feel about them. The Cypress Ritual is an especially interesting ritual, because a child is killed during the ritual.
Reading about the Cypress Ritual from the White Islanders' point of view was thrilling, because the author described how a girl was prepared for the ritual and what happened to her. The vivid descriptions of this ritual and its different phases are memorable, because the White Islanders truly believe in what they are doing.
The mystery elements involving Carl's death are handled well. In my opinion, the circumstances surrounding Carl's death were approriately mysterious and added depth to the story. I also want to mention that the paranormal elements were handled in an excellent way.
One of the best things about this novel is that the author doesn't pay too much attention to LiGa Bridge. In the previous novel she wrote quite a lot about LiGa Bridge, but now she only refers to it when necessary and she does it well. In this novel, she writes about a game called sleet, the Light Game, that is being played in Pera, but doesn't alienate her readers with her descriptions of the game.
When I began to rate this novel, I was torn between giving strong four stars and full five stars, but finally I decided to give it full five stars for being something a bit different. This novel was an enjoyable reading experience, because it isn't often that one has an opportunity to read this kind of science-fantasy.
The Dark Shall Do What Light Cannot is a skillfully written novel that differs quite a lot from other new and contemporary science fiction novels. It's a fascinating combination of science fiction, fantasy, paranormal elements, mystery elements, traditions, religion and mythic elements. If you're interested in reading something a bit different, this novel is a good choice.
Good, imaginative and thought-provoking science-fantasy for adults!