Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar (reviewed by Matthew Higgins)

Order Legacy Of The Brightwash over HERE

Official Author Bio: Krystle
has been writing for a long time, but things got serious when Tashué
Blackwood walked into her life, an amber-eyed whirlwind. Her debut, Legacy of
the Brightwash
, is a SPFBO Finalist, an r/Fantasy nominee for Best Debut and
Best Indie.

When she isn’t arguing with Tashué or any of his
friends, she parents full time. She has a lot of children, too many hobbies,
and one very excellent husband.

She is currently working on lots of stories set
in the Dominion, is 1/4 of the
Swords & Corsets Podcast, and is probably
obsessively rewatching BBC’s Ripper Street and/or anything that Dennis Lehane
worked on like Apple TV’s Blackbird


Disclaimer: I am good friends with the author Krystle Matar, however this has in no way influenced my review


SHORT REVIEW: Krystle Matar‘s Legacy Of The Brightwash pulsates with a
furiously righteous anger as she tears down the system and even the most hard
hearted of readers in 600+ brutal and consequential pages.



FULL REVIEW: Legacy Of The Brightwash is a rare book. It enticed me into its sensual romance. It transcended both genre and expectation to claw its way
inside my very soul.


It stoked a fire within my heart, a passion hitherto missing
from my connection to most fictional characters.


I could write many an ebullient sentence with which to
describe my experience with this spectacular debut, however the best thing I
could possibly offer would be to encourage you to experience this world for



But what does this world have to offer readers who are
enticed by such an offer?


Legacy is set within a begrimed and corruption ridden gaslamp
Yaaelsmir is a city of contrasts, politicians and organised
crime, poverty and class divides, life and death. A world much like our own in
some regard. It is this uncomfortable, shifting closeness that forces the
reader to confront some uncomfortable truths. 
Within these fraught times we are introduced to Tashuė
, an semi morose regulation officer filled with whiskey and regret.


Tashuė works for the Authority, monitoring registered magic
users known as ‘tainted’ to keep them on the Authority’s constrictive leash.
For decades Tashuė has followed the Authority, convincing himself he is doing
the right thing in upholding the Authority’s fascistic laws.


Everything changes when the dead body shows up. Stella Whiterock is a single mother doing her best to raise
her adorable young child Ceridwen. Drawn into the ever-spiralling chaos of
Tashuė when she is placed under his authority, their relationship will twist like
the changing winds within the authority.


Krystle writes this world and her characters with a soulful,
very deliberate prose:


“Better to be lonely and feel the
sharp edges of it, she thought, than to be empty and filled with nothing.”


As such her style is rather methodically paced, with a very
unique voice. Slowness reflects the reality of life for Tashué and many in the
city.  He is burdened, wounded, and just
surviving. As the city slowly falls apart, so does he. 
There’s a brooding atmosphere in the air. A tension of decay.
The character of Glaen is a stark and bold damnation of Yaelsmir society. It
fails those who need it most. It pulsates with anger, stretching in the way the
population stretches its limits and surely, like Tashué himself, set to break
like the soft bough of a branch ready to fall to its final end.


Krystle subtly builds out this narrative, immersing us into
the perspective of each one of her characters, though Tashuė and Stella stay
central throughout.


It is easy for one to write ‘stick through it until it gets
really good’ and you readers may scoff in cliché. However, this truly is one of
the books in which this stereotype is true! Krystle is not writing a story in
which events fall consecutively into place, she is inviting us into the lives
of these characters. 
We follow Tashuė as he meets with the ‘tainted’ under his
purview, Stella as she works in the city hospital.


This story lives and breathes, as if it is not Krystle
dreaming this tale, but a chronicle snapshotting their very lives.


The world they live in is a world that is unfair, a world of
grit and drudgery, and yet there is still beauty and magic to be found within.
The fantastical elements are kept to a minimum here, however I did find myself
entirely satisfied as a fantasy reader. There are more than a few hints at the
deities involved in this realm, and a past surely coming into play. Just like
her characters, this is a fully realised world, which makes its shortcomings
all the more stark and terrifying to the reader.



The historical inflections Krystle peppers her novel with will
be a delight for those of you within that Venn diagram of historical fiction
and fantasy fans. For those of you with politically motivated minds, you will
engorge yourselves on the veritable feast of political intrigue.


In fact, some of my favourite sections can be found from
within the politically focused sections. The only major flaw within the book
was that the stories begin to spiral out leaving certain threads such as the
politics to languish for considerable lengths of time. After a tightly but
deliberately paced 30%, there was a middle section where it just wasn’t landing
as hard, and I was eager to return to the political circus. However, when one
considers the short time frame within which the book is set, it does bring
things into perspective.


My great hope is that
Krystle does use the sequel to build on the solid foundations  laid within the political elements, as we do
have such delightfully serpentine characters beguiling their way around one
another, each trying to get close enough to constrain the others political


Illea Winter, a sensual powerhouse of political machination,
and a fan favourite character stole the scene every time she leaped off of the
Ishmael Saeity with his quick wit and often absurd outbursts
has a queer relationship with Tashuė, and yet he is also a big part of the
heart and soul inside ‘Brightwash’ bringing a healthy and nuanced humanity to
the world of the wealthy. 
Rainer Ellsworth the corrupt and despicable head of the
authority will have you simply shaking with rage.


It is these emotions that Krystle manages to elicit from her
readers. And yes, she did manage to make me cry by the end. She writes with
a furiously righteous anger that lit a spark within me. I dare anyone to
read this book and not finish in sheer outrage at the injustice and the cruelty;
the suffering and the pain; the sheer audacity of those with power to control,
demean and diminish those weaker than them.


I do so enjoy seeing eloquent authors as Trudi Skies and Krystle
exploring the classism of society in a world that’s so often held promising
women back. Their sting ripples throughout their works in a terrifying takedown
of the system.  


We feel the struggle because they KNOW the struggle.
Consciously or not, it is infused with such a snark that only those who’ve been
wronged by the system can write so poetically.


“We’ve all faced dark days and
I’ve yet to meet someone who always made the right choice “

So be warned, this is a dark and political book folks. The
things those in authority do are not pretty, and yet even our beloved Tashuė is
not always a paragon of morality. 
This is what leaves us with the uncomfortable reality. What
would you do?


This is a book that makes one reflect on our lives and the
failures within them. To see the ugly reflection of our own society and how we
struggle to hold this in power to account.


Tashuė is a man of trauma, a lot of it his own making. He
doesn’t ruminate and yet he is stuck. Stuck in an at times frustrating hero
complex because he cannot seem to save those he wishes to protect. He sees
those he loves suffer and blames himself. The reason it’s so infuriating is
because it’s staring me right back in the face and asking, ‘are you so


Perhaps for other readers you will find yourselves within
Miss Whiterock, doing anything to protect her child, no matter the law. Or
maybe you’ll see yourself in one of the ‘tainted’ who suffer because they are
different, because they are not who society wants them to be and so they become
‘othered’ until their inner turmoil is unleashed on those around them.


The point is that this is a story for everyone.


There are noir-ish elements, however this is not the focus.
There is a concentration on romance in large portions of the book, however it
is not romance for romance’s sake, it is about relationships for the characters
sake. It also dives into the gangster genre, political thriller, military
elements, and hints towards a larger, more fantastical world at play.


CONCLUSION: It wears the hat it needs to to best serve the story and our
Whilst occasionally the story creaks at the constraints of
trying to tell such a large and sweeping tale within a comparatively small page
count (oh the irony!) It also bites, it has sass, it’s pointed, political and
unashamedly woke.


It’s a dang good time is what it is.

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