A Sea of Broken Glass by Sonya M. Black

SPFBO: A Sea of Broken Glass by Sonya M. Black

Congrats to Sonya M. Black for becoming our finalist!

Series: The Lady and the Darkness #1Rating: 7.8/10
Date of Publishing: March 19th 2019Genre: fantasy
Publisher: self-publishedAvailable: Amazon
Number of pages: 319Author’s website: Sonya M Black


Secrets have a price.

After enduring weeks of torture and being convicted of witchery, Ris escapes, only to discover the Darkness and the Lady are hunting her. They need the magic that sings within her.

Creator of all, the imprisoned Lady needs Ris, her last vessel, to find the Heart of Creation. The Darkness seeks to corrupt the vessel and retain his hold on the Lady, and with it, the world.

Ris finds help from a pair of Paladins of Light who aid her in cleansing the evil taint from the lands. As her power grows, so do her questions. How can she restore balance to the world and free the Lady? Should the Lady be trusted or is she as much at fault for the evil in the world as the Darkness? With powerful demons War, Ruin, and Plague at her heels, Ris struggles to stay alive as she tries to unravel the secrets hidden within her before it’s too late.

Secrets that may cost Ris her soul even if she does succeed.

SPFBO Note from Nick

The interesting thing about my semi-finalist selection for RockStarlit BookAsylum in SPFBO5 is that I read it pretty early on in the process and had a gut feeling that it would ultimately end up being my pick. Don’t get me wrong, I still kept an open mind with regard to all of the other books that I read but in the end, none of them fully matched the quality that I found in Sonya M. Black’s A Sea of Broken Glass.

There are a few reasons why this book stood out among the rest for me. For one, I immediately fell in love with the story. From the opening pages this was a story that I connected with and wanted to keep reading about. Second, the prose is just beautiful and flows seamlessly. The characters speak the way you would expect people in their situation to speak and react. Lastly, the world-building is really impressive. The setting is sort of a Victorian Steampunk one but it also contains elements of traditional Epic Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery as well.

For me, this was a no-brainer of a choice. Although a couple of other books gave me slight pause, I just didn’t think they rose to the level of this book. And so it is with great pleasure that I name A Sea of Broken Glass as my personal choice as semi-finalist for Team RockStarlit BookAsylum!

Nick’s Review – 7.8/10

A Sea of Broken Glass opens with the main character Ris barely escaping execution for practicing witchcraft at the hands of a corrupt and vile Inquisitor.  Aided by two Paladins of Light named Bran and Michel, she is quickly secreted away by her protectors and transported to a place of safety, or so they believe.

Many are looking for Ris as she represents the last vessel of the Lady, the ancient savior and creator born from The Bastion of Light.  The Lady needs Ris if she hopes to once again save the world and keep her vessel from being corrupted.  But the Darkness also seeks Ris for its own gains and has deployed various agents in the hopes of capturing Ris and tainting her magic, thus controlling the world and plunging it into an age of despair and anguish.

Ris is saddled with the unenviable task of trying to free the Lady from the bonds of Darkness so that she may hopefully restore balance again to the world.  But to do so she must first battle all likes of demons and evil minions who hunt her from one border of the continent to the next.  Coupled with that is the realization that the taint of the darkness is spreading across the land bringing plague and war in its wake.  It soon becomes a battle against time and powerful enemies for Ris and her fellow protectors of Light, where the fate of the world is anything but certain and the motivations of some of the main players are very much in question.

This book was a joy to read and I devoured it in just about a week even though it’s just short of 400 pages in length.  I simply loved the elements of witchcraft and the Victorian-esque setting that almost bordered on Steampunk at times.  Reading it, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to Mary Wells’ Death of the Necromancer and Paula Volsky’s The Grand Ellipse (Two favorites of mine), but this is also a book that has its own unique story to tell, and it’s a very good one at that.

The chapters alternate viewpoints between four characters whose stories and actions move the plot forward in their own particular way.  Although there are four viewpoints, it is obvious that the main character is Ris and she is the one that I felt the most connected to and invested in as a reader.  Without giving away too much, let’s just say that she is put through a lot of duress throughout the book and the strength of her character and force of will is really on full display.  Likewise, the other viewpoint characters Bran, Michel, and Aeron were fleshed out very well and gave a depth to the story that I thought worked extremely well and enhanced the experience.

In closing, A Sea of Broken Glass was such a delight to read and I recommend it to anyone who likes their fantasy with a bit of Victorian flair, witchery, and a timeless light vs dark, good vs evil plot line.  The characters and world-building really sucked me into this wonderful dark fantasy read.  I look forward to the second book in Sonya M. Black’s The Lady & The Darkness series with much anticipation.

Timy’s Review – 8/10

Upon finishing with slush piling, A Sea of Broken Glass definitely was among my favourites. I’ve read it very early, it was the third book I’ve sampled, but it stayed with me until the end. It was a no brainer that I would go back to read it until the end and that it will be among the contenders to be my semi-finalist. In the end I decided to go with another book, but I’m really happy that we’ve got A Sea of Broken Glass sorted into our group.

A Sea of Broken Glass is the first book of The Lady and the Darkness series, and does not waste any time to get right in the middle of things. Ris is being imprisoned by the Inquisitor, called Talbot under the accusation of using charms – and also because she is the last of the Lady’s vessels, which makes her valuable for both those on the Light’s side and on the Darkness’. Once her real identity is out the race starts. She has to find the Lady’s Heart, a gem which the Lady of Light hid, and which is the source of all creation. During the cataclysm it got tainted and cursed along with a big portion of the land. Whichever side gets it under control will have immense power to decide the fate of the world. Agents of the Darkness are after her trying to either capture her, corrupt her or kill her in order to get the Heart. Ris and her company has to go a long way and there is no assurance they will survive the ordeal.

A Sea of Broken Glass is definitely a super fast read. I’ve read 60% of it in a day, and that’s not something that happens to me a lot these days. I just couldn’t not read it and know what’s going to happen next. I also had a few “Oh shit. That’s not going to go well.” moments which is always a good thing. Especially since I’m not really a fan of books which has a lot of travelling – in this case I really didn’t care about that as the characters kept me interested.

The mix of 1st and 3rd POV worked out really well. By making Ris a 1st POV character allows us to connect with her more but also puts her in the focus even more. Her companion, the paladins who all have different roles and types of magic (water, air, earth) opposite to her healing (fire) magic are all there to support and protect her. Not that she needs much protecting, because even though she is a kind of Chosen One, she has strength and independence. She can take care of herself, but she is also smart enough to know she won’t succeed all by herself and that she’ll need her friends for moral support if nothing else. She is not a damsel in distress kind of character who needs saving, but isn’t an invincible bad-ass fighter either. I liked her interactions with the others and generally how all the characters interacted with each other. And the way they struggled with their own demons and minds when it threw them off way. But I think my favourite part was the way magic is described. All kind of magic has its distinct sound/instruments attached to them, creating a song rather than a spell.

In way of criticism, although I did enjoy the ride, I would have liked a bit more worldbuilding – to learn about the different titles and roles, the Bastion, the characters’ past (though we do learn about them a bit, especially during the second half). A bit more showing than telling wouldn’t have been amiss. There was a lot going on and I didn’t got to really immerse myself in this world, to get a good grip on it. It also works with the usual tropes – Chosen One, quest for an important treasure to stop the world being destroyed, good vs evil. Which is fine, and as terms of writing, this book is really good, but for me there was something missing, something that would make me say “Now, that’s what makes it stand out!”

Overall, A Sea of Broken Glass is a book I highly recommend checking out as it has some neat ideas – music based magic!! – likeable characters and an epic chase. Just be warned that you might end up staying up until way too late while reading… Now, where is the sequel??

Jen’s Review – 7.3/10

When the Lady fell to the Darkness, evil and corruption gained a foothold, allowing Ruin, War, and Plague to be released upon the land.

The Lady’s daughters are meant to carry her power – the power of Light. Marissa (Ris) is a healer and the last vessel of the Lady. She needs to find the Heart of Creation- the Lady’s last hope to break the darkness that has her bound, and restore the balance of power.

Ris is accompanied by the Paladins: Aeron, Bran, and Michel, they are her cloak, shield, and sword respectively. Their job is to keep Marissa safe from the Darkness because if she falls, the Darkness wins and there is no more hope of the Lady returning the Light to the land.


This was a fun read! Enjoyable and well-paced. Things get interesting fast, and there is a good tension build straight through to the end with the relationships growing and falling apart as the Heart, and the Darkness get closer.

There are some neat ideas with the world, government, and the magic.

The world is Victorian inspired and the story has a tinge of a romance feel to it which lends itself nicely to the setting. (If you don’t read romances you probably won’t even notice).

The Bastion (the government of sorts) before the Lady’s fall, was made up of the Paladins, they were her closest circle. Now, the true Paladin’s numbers are down to just a few from the Lady’s days and the rest are made up of sworn members. But with a dying belief in the Lady; the Darkness, greed and corruption are becoming prevalent in the order.

Excerpts from The Lady and the Darkness, a translated work at the beginning of each chapter give us a glimpse of the Lady’s fall and her plan to fix where things went wrong.
Other information is well placed and gives us hints about the relationship between the Light and the Dark. I particularly loved the balance of it all- in the magic, and in the order.
How even with the Paladins, their counterpoints were either dark (Bran and Aris) or they had to battle the dark within themselves, like Aeron. It added a nice touch, and again, it fits with the Paladin shiny pure image that we tend to associate to them (or at least I do) and gives this world and magic, a well thought-out and complete feel.

The magic – both the Light and the Dark are demonstrated to us in instrument sounds, when the user’s magic joins it works a bit like an orchestra combining the sounds to create a stronger piece of music or clashing sounds when they’re battling. I liked the use; it works for helping to imagine what’s occurring and made for some cool visuals, but I didn’t feel it like I have in other stories with a music-based magic.

I liked that there was a lot of backstory for our main pov’s characters and with the Paladins- some of it is quite tragic and painful. But I also found myself feeling a little detached to it all too.

I think this is one of those times when more showing would have been helpful, especially with the past relationships, because the telling gave me just enough distance to these characters and their emotional wounds, that I felt a little disconnected from their pain and/or happiness, keeping me from totally falling in love with these characters and their stories.

Outside of that there were some very minor issues:  repetitiveness, a few typos, and words that felt like they were supposed to have been removed, and my least favourite thing – the retelling in an overlap POV. (ugh)

Enjoyable read, great pacing and solid all-around storytelling. There was just very little to complain about with this story.

Did I tell you I read this in two days? I should have led with that, right?

Belle’s Review – 8/10

This was such a delight of a book, and I finished it in just a few hours.

I really enjoyed the setting on this one, and the magic system was unique and delightful (although sometimes I wished I had more information about how it worked). More information about the wider world would have been appreciated, but I’m also happy to let the series unfold and see what happens.

The blend of first and third person POVs worked really well for telling the story – it allowed Ris to shine as the main character, while giving us more information and context about other characters. I loved the writing style. For me, it was the perfect balance of being emotive and detailed without sinking into purple.

I also loved the character interactions. There was the potential for this to turn into a book where Ris was cast into a “weak female” role, but that definitely didn’t happen here and she was shown to be more than capable every step of the way. The relationships between the primary cast was well done, and I appreciated their growth over the book.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a fast-paced fantasy with a unique magic system and setting. I will definitely be hunting down the rest of the series.


Congrats to Sonya M. Black for becoming our finalist!

You can follow our progress and find everything we’ve done so far on my SPFBO Phase 1 page!