Blog Tour and Review: Invisible in a Bright Light – Sally Gardner

Welcome back!

It has been my absolute pleasure to be part of the blog tour for Invisible in a Bright Light. This stunning book is one of my favourite books of the year. Read on to find out why.


It is 1870: opening night at the Royal Opera House in a freezing city by the sea, where a huge, crystal chandelier in the shape of a galleon sparkles magically with the light of 750 candles.

Celeste, a theatre rat, wakes up in a costume basket from what she hopes is a bad dream, to find that everyone at the theatre where she works thinks she is someone else.

When the chandelier falls, she is haunted by a strange girl who claims to know Celeste’s past and why she must risk playing a game called the Reckoning to try to save the people she loves.

Taken from Invisible in a Bright Light


Sometimes I read a book and I wonder how it is even conceivable that it came from someone’s brain. This is the first book I’ve ever read by Sally Gardner, and I can promise you it will not be the last!

Invisible in a Bright Light is a fabulously thrilling fantasy story of a young girl, Celeste, who finds herself onboard a sunken ship, the Empress, ensnared in a game known as the Reckoning. It is up to Celeste to find three things and return them to the man in the emerald green suit. But there’s a fairly large problem – he can change the rules of the game at any time.

There is much to be enjoyed in this book, but one of my particular favourites is the opera house setting. Gardner sets the scene so beautifully to the point where I swear I could hear the wooden stairs creaking, the dust in the seamstresses’ room, and the glistening of the haunting chandelier.

The character development is exceptional, particularly that of Madame Sabine Petrova, the feared opera singer, and her daughter, Hildegard. At first, Hildegard is seen as a spoiled, entitled girl, taking after her mother with her fearsome temper. However, as the book develops, it becomes clear that Hildegard is emotionally neglected by her mother and this escalates into physical violence.

The scenes of physical violence are difficult to read (although not graphic nor frequent) and do serve to add to the depth of emotion in the book, so are therefore not gratuitous. The development of Hildegard’s character makes you want to sweep her away and look after her, which makes some of the later scenes particularly emotional.

For middle-grade readers, there is much to be found in the main character, Celeste. She shows herself to be a leader and mentally strong, with an ability to see beyond herself to the needs of others and her family, prepared to do what she needs to save those on board the Empress.

To read this book you need to let your imagination flow freely – and once you do, you will soon find yourself in the city of C-, feeling the snow beneath your feet and the light and warmth of the opera house. There is also a mention of Christmas, so if you are looking for reads on those cold days with a hot chocolate, this book will be a perfect choice.

Magnificent, beautiful, and heartrending – Invisible in a Bright Light is a work of art within a book. I cannot recommend it highly enough and I hope you take the time to read it.

Don’t forget to check out the other blog tour stops below!

Thanks to Zephyr for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Illustrator

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About the author

Sally Gardner gained a first class degree at a leading London art college and became a successful theatre costume designer before illustrating and writing books.

I, Coriander won the Nestlé Gold Award and she is also a Costa and Carnegie prize-winner. Her books have been translated all over the world and have sold over two million copies. Zephyr also publishes Sally Gardner’s Mr Tiger and Betsy series, illustrated by Nick Maland, for younger readers.

Blog Tour

 Comment below!

Will you be reading Invisible in a Bright Light? Let me know in the comments below.

Wishing you a bookish week,

Pen and ink

3 thoughts on “Blog Tour and Review: Invisible in a Bright Light – Sally Gardner

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