Top positive review
What makes a family?
Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2021
Every happy family is the same, but every dysfunctional family makes absorbing reading. The Rigby family is no exception - in fact, they might be a prime example.
The Rise of Light is a richly detailed portrait of a family, a community, and a religion that both holds and tears apart that family and community. For all that the main characters are sympathetic, none of them are particularly likable, because they all keep secrets and hurt each other to protect themselves. Gad, the patriarch of the Rigby family, is an awful human: an abusive father, a distant husband, and something more, which, when his carefully seeded backstory appears, makes you empathize with him even as you want to punch him into the next state.
Aran and Tamsin, two of Gad's children, deal with their father's tempers in different ways. Aran tries to conform and to make his father happy, but nothing he does will ever be enough - and if his father discovers his secret painting, it will get even worse. Tamsin wants nothing more than to escape and be able to control her own life.
As always, Hawker is top notch at her descriptions of landscape, so vivid that you can see it. Her handling of Aran's art, how he sees light and renders it on canvas, are is also very convincing and evocative.
This is another fabulous book from Olivia Hawker, only slightly less perfect than her One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow, which is one of my absolute favorites.